Why Eat It

Why Eat It

Unlike many of the other grains, triticale (pronounced tri-ti-kay-lee) does not have a history that covers several millennia. It was developed only a little more than a century ago, in 1875, when a Scottish botanist crossed wheat with rye in hopes of creating a food grain with the good baking qualities and high yield of wheat and the robust growing habit and protein content of rye. The few seeds he was able to germinate from the hybrid were sterile, but, in 1937, a French researcher succeeded in producing a fertile cross of wheat and rye. Subsequent research beginning in the Fifties led to great improvements in the new grain, called triticale after the Latin genus names for wheat (Triticum) and rye (Secale).

Although perhaps not the supergrain it was once claimed to be, triticale does combine rye's ability to survive cold temperatures with the disease resistance of wheat to produce a grain with a substantial protein content. Depending on growing conditions, triticale ranges from 14% to 20% protein, by weight. It also has enough gluten, unlike rye, to be used alone as a bread flour. Triticale is a good source of some of the B vitamins: It has more thiamin and folate (folic acid) than either wheat or rye, but less niacin and B6 than either of its parent grains. Its nutlike flavor is richer than that of wheat, but not so assertive as that of rye. Triticale is not grown in great quantities, and therefore is more likely to be found in health-food stores or through mail-order sources.


Triticale comes in the same forms as wheat or rye:

Cracked triticale: These have a shorter cooking time than the whole berries. You can make your own cracked triticale by processing whole berries in a blender until they are coarsely chopped.

Triticale berries: Like wheat berries, whole triticale berries have not been stripped of their nutritious bran and germ. They are twice the size of wheat berries, and need to be soaked overnight in the refrigerator before cooking.

Triticale flakes: Like rolled oats, these are triticale berries that have been steamed and flattened.


Triticale berries are particularly flavorful when they have been browned before cooking. Saute 1/2 cup of uncooked triticale in a small amount of oil until brown, then proceed with cooking.

Simmering: Add 1/2 cup triticale berries to 1 1/2 cups of boiling water. Lower heat and simmer until done. Cooking time: one hour, 45 minutes. Makes about 1 1/4 cups.

Date Published: 04/21/2005
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