Triticale, with its deep roots in agricultural science, was initially developed in the late 19th century in Europe. The goal was to produce a crop that could thrive in a variety of soil conditions, resist common diseases, and yield bountifully. In appearance, triticale grains resemble wheat but often have the size and robustness closer to rye.
In Alberta's varied climatic zones, triticale is especially prized for its ability to thrive in less-than-optimal soil conditions where other grains might struggle. This adaptability has made it a preferred choice for certain farmers, particularly for those focused on livestock feed. Beyond its agricultural attributes, triticale is also rich in protein, dietary fiber, and essential minerals, making it a valuable addition to the human diet.
While triticale's inception lies in European agricultural experimentation, its story in Canada is relatively recent. Introduced to Canadian fields in the 20th century, its initial appeal was its potential for high yields and its use as a quality feed grain. Alberta, with its vast agricultural expanse and focus on both grain cultivation and livestock rearing, saw the value in this hybrid grain.
Over the decades, as agricultural practices and priorities evolved, so did the use and perception of triticale. Beyond its role as feed, Alberta's farmers and researchers began exploring its potential as a food grain, leading to its incorporation in various food products and its gradual acceptance by consumers.
Triticale's culinary versatility mirrors that of its parent grains:
- Baking: Triticale flour, often combined with other flours, can be used in bread, muffins, and pancakes, imparting a unique, nutty flavor.
- Porridge: Just like oats, triticale can be simmered into a hearty porridge, a warming breakfast especially in Alberta's colder months.
- Whole Grain Salads: Cooked triticale berries can be tossed with vegetables, herbs, and dressings to make nutrient-rich salads.
- Soups and Stews: Its grains add heft and nutrition to soups and stews, making them more filling.
- Sprouting: Triticale can be sprouted, and these sprouts can be used in salads or as a garnish.
- Brewing: Experimentally, triticale has been used as a base grain in some craft brewing endeavors, particularly in microbreweries aiming for unique flavors.
- Feed: In Alberta, a substantial portion of triticale is used as livestock feed, given its high nutritional content.
For those cultivating or considering triticale as a dietary addition, it's beneficial to explore both its traditional uses and more innovative culinary applications, keeping in mind its rich nutritional profile.