Drying Spent Grains at Home
There are a number of ways to prepare spent grain for storage at home:
- Freezing – Tossing it into the freezer is the safest, easiest way to store grain. It takes no effort to put into storage, but it has the drawback of being a frozen solid block when you wish to use it, and when it thaws it’s still sopping wet.
- Drying – Involves long hours of baking at low temperatures on sheet trays until the grain is dry outside and inside. The drawback here is that it is crispy and dry, and any recipes with an addition of dry grain will need to be adjusted for the water that the grain will — eventually — absorb. This is very undesirable for many styles of bread.
According to this professional baker, her preference is to dry just the outside of the individual kernels of grain, leaving the inside moist.
Conceptually, this prepared spent grain is water-neutral, in that it neither contributes or absorbs a significant percentage of its own mass in water. It can be stored frozen, and still scooped or poured without thawing, and used on a whim.
Procedure for water-neutral spent grain preparation:
- Drain grain of as much fluid as you can.
- Spread grain in a half inch deep layer in shallow baking pans.
- Place into a 350-degree oven for 10-15 minutes, until you no longer hear sizzling on the bottom of the pan.
- Remove from oven and stir, stirring the corners to the middle, the outside to the inside.
- Return to oven for 7-10 minutes, until the grain no longer feels moist when touched, but still appears to be steaming.
- Immediately transfer the grain to a sheet pan and spread into a 1/4 inch layer.
- Then place the sheet pan under the blower vent in your freezer until frozen. Working quickly will ensure that the moisture inside of the grain stays there without steaming out onto the surface.
- Once frozen, brush the grains from the pan into a storage container and cover tightly to prevent freezer burn.
- Keep frozen.
The end result can be stored frozen in a bin or bag and used as needed. It should be loose and dry, yet still remain moist inside of individual grains. Frozen shelflife of two to three months.
Another technique advocated by the pioneering Brooklyn Brew Shop (more energy intense):
- Set your oven to the lowest setting possible. For most ovens, this is 170-200 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Spread out your spent grain on a clean, ungreased sheet pan in a thin 1/4 inch layer.
- Place in oven and let dry for approximately 7 hours. Alternately, a food dehydrator works as well.
- 4 hours into drying, pull out barley and toss to mix with a spoon.
- Drying time may vary depending on your environment or oven. Your barley is dry when you feel absolutely no moisture remaining.
- Store your barley in an airtight jar or plastic container in your pantry.