February 8, 2016

malt rootlets

Local maltster Andrea Stanley of Valley Malt was the first person to introduce us to malt “rootlets”—the germinated rootlet of the grain that forms during the malting process and is later removed. Typically this byproduct is discarded or used for livestock feed, but Andrea wondered if they might have more delicious culinary applications. She directed us to an 1860 document called The Maltster's Guide, which mentions an erstwhile use for the rootlets: curing meat. While the process did not sound very scientific (“the meat is simply put into a heap of malt coombs for a few months…”), our Blue Hill chefs were intrigued by the promise of the “peculiar sweet and somewhat smoky flavor.”

Rather than use them for curing, we began applying the rootlets as a kind of dry rub. The chefs coat pork (typically loin, coppa or rack) in the rootlets, Cryovac the meat, and let it infuse for one week. The final product is seared off to order. And the flavor? Sweet, smoky, and, yes, peculiarly delicious.


An excerpt from The Maltster's Guide (1860):