A plate from Black Cat Bistro of bison done two ways, Wallis rye dumplings, Hakurai turnips, roasted red pepper and smoky baba ganoush

Why Rye? The Glories of Homegrown and Milled Rye

The season of snow is upon us. This can conjure a Nordic frame of mind. As cooks and farmers, the Nordic countries remind us of herring, cloudberries, reindeer and an abundance of mushrooms. We don’t raise any of the above at Black Cat Organic Farm (although we work with foragers to score mushrooms).

But we do cultivate a staple across Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark and Iceland: rye. We grow a variety called Wallis, which comes from Switzerland’s mountainous Valais canton, the home of the Matterhorn.

Why Do We Grow Rye?

A bag of milled Wallis rye on a table, sold by Black Cat Organic Farm in Boulder, Colorado
Wanna’ bake with Wallis rye? Look for bags like this at our farmstand at the Farmers’ Market.

Rye is the softest of our grains. It offers a fraction of the gluten found in wheat, and gluten is essential for bread’s lift. When carbon dioxide from yeast presses against gluten, it forms networks of strands that serve as scaffolding for wheat to climb and stay put.

One-hundred-percent rye isn’t awesome for bread. But low-gluten flour is ideal for things like dumplings, biscuits and pie crusts. Gluten stiffens wheat, but “stiff” is regrettable in a tart crust meant for a quiche. What we desire is flaky, and on that front, rye delivers smashingly.

Even better, after a year of experimenting in the kitchens with our homegrown rye, we believe rye flour offers much more flavor than wheat.  A recent side-by-side taste test of tart shells filled with peach compote and honey cream produced unanimous results: Everybody much preferred the rye tart.

Quick note: Due to so many rye breads incorporating caraway seeds into the dough, it’s no surprise that many people associate rye with that unique flavor encountered in a piece of toast beside a fried egg. That flavor is the caraway, not the rye.

What To Cook With Our Rye Flour?

In the fields, rye performs admirably. It thrives with wet springs and long dry spells in August. In other words, it prefers the 2019 Boulder County growing season. Our harvest this summer was fantastic.We sell our milled Wallis rye at the Farmers’ Market every Saturday up until Thanksgiving. Swing by, snag a bag, and give some recipes a whirl.

Rye choux pastry is extraordinary. Simply replace the white flour with rye. Rye biscuits rock. Rye dumplings? Absolutely.

And do try a rye pastry crust.


Dough from Wallis rye being rolled into a short pastry crust on a butcher block in Boulder, Colorado.
A home baker recently used our Wallis rye to roll out pastry crust for a savory tart.
A friend of Black Cat Organic Farm recently made a Wallis rye tart crust filled with Black Cat Organic Farm roasted butternut squash and sauteed onion, dusted with smoked sweet Spanish paprika and showered with grated Parmesan. His evaluation? “Mind-blowing.”
We’ll have the rye in that tart at the Market on Saturday, as well as a host of other pleasures. We look forward to seeing you in Black Cat Bistro, Bramble & Hare and the downtown Boulder Farmers’ Market this weekend!


Boulder Farmers’ Market

Saturday 8am – 2pm

Weekly Harvest 11/9/2019

Spinach · Kale · Asian collards · Osaka purple · Arugula · Chard · Carrots · Beets · Carrots · Potatoes · Hakuri turnips · Hinona kabu turnips · Parsnips · Escarole

Sonoran White wheat flour · Khorasan wheat flour · Wallis rye wheat flour

Black Cat Heritage-Breed Pork & Lamb Raised on Organic Pastures
All cuts of lamb · All cuts of pork · Pork skin · Pork jowls


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