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Malt syrup (malt extract, organic?)

Malt syrup, also called malt extract, is made from barley that has been briefly germinated and then dried again, otherwise the origin must be stated. Organic?
Macronutrient carbohydrates 92%
Macronutrient proteins 8%
Macronutrient fats 0%

The three ratios show the percentage by weight of macronutrients (carbohydrates / proteins / fats) of the dry matter (excl. water).

Ω-6 (LA, <0.1g)
Omega-6 fatty acid such as linoleic acid (LA)
 : Ω-3 (ALA, <0.1g)
Omega-3 fatty acid such as alpha-linolenic acid (ALA)
 = 0:0

Omega-6 ratio to omega-3 fatty acids should not exceed a total of 5:1. Link to explanation.

Values are too small to be relevant.

Malt syrup is actually barley malt syrup , also known as malt extract , and is made from barley malt. For other types of grain, the origin must be declared. Also available in organic quality and as a gluten-free variant.

Use in the kitchen:

To the questions What is malt syrup, what is malt extract and what is barley malt extract? or Is barley malt vegan? and Is barley malt extract vegan? : Malt syrup is vegan, namely a malty-tasting, viscous, mostly yellowish to brownish syrup with a typical taste reminiscent of caramel. Extract from grain malt, i.e. malt extract, is just another word for malt syrup. Malt syrup is used not only in baking, but also as a spread, as a sweetener or for making sweets. Barley malt extract comes from barley malt, which contains much more starch than sugar: the starch is mostly converted into sugar during the entire extract process. Barley malt or rye malt etc. must nevertheless be distinguished from malt sugar .

The dried powder form of malt extract is usually used as a baking agent. In bread and baked goods, the powder improves the baking, crumb and crust properties. The aroma of the baked goods is mainly created by the effect of heat, i.e. by caramelization and the parallel Maillard reaction (non-enzymatic browning). Barley malt is also used in the production of beer and whiskey (whisky) and is also used to make malt coffee (barley coffee).

What can you use as a substitute for baking malt? If you use liquid barley malt (vegan) in recipes, you can replace it 1:1 with honey.

Vegan recipe with malt syrup:

Due to the Maillard reaction, which creates critical amounts of acrylamide at temperatures of 170 to 190 °C, we are not giving a recipe tip here, even though the product is available vegan or organic. In addition, we cannot recommend malt syrup as a healthy sugar alternative, even if the barley malt syrup is organic. Read more about this below - in the chapter on the barley malt extract ingredients, its effects and dangers.

Not only vegans or vegetarians should read this:
Vegans often eat unhealthily. Avoidable nutritional mistakes

Shopping - where to buy malt syrup?

Here you can buy malt syrup: In health food stores, organic shops, organic supermarkets (e.g. Denn's Biomarkt or Alnatura ), drugstores, sometimes in pharmacies, but above all in online shops. The light to dark brown syrup is usually bottled in screw-top jars, small bottles and sometimes in plastic or metal cans. Supermarkets such as Coop , Migros , Denner , Volg , Spar , Aldi , Lidl , Rewe , Edeka , Hofer etc. rarely carry malt extract in their standard range.

If malt syrup is made from grains other than barley, this must be labelled. Buy organically produced malt syrup, because depending on the origin and type, genetic engineering may be involved. You can find further reasons for vegan quality and for Demeter -certified organic products below.

Making your own malt syrup:

Make your own malt syrup? You can make your own malt extract, although it's not an easy process: 1 First you grind the briefly germinated and then dried grain. It's usually barley , but wheat , rye , spelt , corn , etc. - and rice - are also suitable. Mix with water to make a mash and leave to steep in the oven at around 50 °C for a few hours. While stirring constantly and in several steps, increase the temperature of the mash first to 63 °C, then to 73 °C, and leave the pot in the oven for 1 hour each time. Finally, heat it to 78 °C and leave the mash in the oven at 80 °C for around 20 minutes. These high temperatures inactivate the enzymes it contains. Care must be taken that the temperature does not rise too quickly and that the mash does not burn.

The next step is lautering: Here you separate the liquid from the insoluble spent grains. For this you use a cloth, preferably made of linen.

The liquid is left to boil on the stove, stirring constantly. The liquid should reduce by about half, so that you end up with a thick syrup. If you fill it into small screw-top jars or bottles while it is still hot, you have a good chance of it keeping for a long time. Is barley malt extract healthy? Is malt extract unhealthy? - That is a question of quantity and frequency. Malt extract is only healthy in very small quantities.

Storing malt extract:

Purchased barley malt has a very long shelf life when closed. After opening, you should always be careful not to contaminate the syrup with food residue. Store malt syrup in a cool place, protected from light. Once opened, homemade malt extract is best stored in the refrigerator and consumed quickly.

Malt syrup - ingredients - nutritional value - calories:

Barley malt syrup mainly contains sugar in the form of maltose or malt sugar (at least 55%), dextrins (maximum 12%) and glucose. The protein content is relatively high for a sweetener at 12.4%, the rest is water (maximum 28%). Malt syrup also contains vitamins such as niacin (B 3 ). The value of 8.1 mg/100g is similar to that of moringa powder or sunflower seeds . Brewer's yeast , for example, has a lot of niacin with 57 mg/100g or the processed yeast-based spice paste with 128 mg/100g. Niacin is important for the metabolism of protein, fat and carbohydrates. 3

Pyridoxine (B 6 ) is contained in malt extract at 0.5 mg/100g. Dried mango or quinoa have similar values and brewer's yeast contains a lot of this vitamin at 4.4 mg/100g. As a particularly important coenzyme, it is also involved in protein metabolism and the breakdown of glycogen. 3

We normally get enough phosphorus from our diet. Nevertheless, it is an essential element and is involved in many reactions in the body. Malt extract contains 236 mg/100g of phosphorus, which is similar to corn flour or tofu . With 1,650 mg/100g, hemp seeds have a lot of natural phosphorus. The phosphoric acid in ready-made products or soft drinks is harmful if consumed regularly. 3

Amino acids such as tryptophan , threonine and valine are also contained in malt extract and traces of magnesium , potassium , calcium and sodium are detectable. 3

Please note that the ingredients can vary greatly depending on the type of grain. The vitamin content of homemade malt syrup can also be significantly reduced. Long cooking destroys many vitamins and minerals. In industrial processes, the water is removed more gently using a vacuum evaporator. 4

Compared to malt sugar, malt syrup is generally lower in calories and richer in nutrients, and therefore healthier.

The complete ingredients of malt syrup, the coverage of the daily requirement and comparison values with other ingredients can be found in our nutrient tables. In the article Nutrients explained you will get a detailed insight into the topic.

Health aspects - effects:

If you read the list of ingredients with the many vitamins and minerals, you might think that barley malt syrup is a healthy alternative to sugar. Used in small quantities, this may well be true. The sweetening power of malt extract is only half as strong as that of sucrose.

Barley malt extract is also a popular additive for making bread darker. However, this deceives consumers into thinking that the bread is healthy wholemeal. In addition to white flour, the bread only contains caramel coloring, sugar beet syrup and malt extract. In addition, bread is often not vegan because it is diluted with milk powder.

Dangers - Intolerances - Side effects:

When exposed to heat, the sugars contained in malt syrup react in a way that intensifies the taste, color and aroma of food (caramelization and Maillard reaction). The industry uses this advantage and hides barley malt extract in many foods. In the non-enzymatic browning reaction (Maillard reaction), amine compounds (e.g. amino acids, peptides, proteins) are converted into new compounds under heat. Temperatures of 170-190 °C and above produce acrylamide and nitrosamines, which can have mutagenic and carcinogenic effects. 5 If you want to avoid Maillard molecules for health reasons, you should avoid using barley malt syrup when baking - as well as other sweeteners obtained at high temperatures, and also starch products that have been heated to high temperatures.

People with gluten sensitivity, gluten intolerance or celiac disease should avoid barley malt extract. Sometimes you can find gluten-free barley malt extract (vegan) produced using special processes. Demeter , for example, offers biodynamic liquid organic malt extract (vegan and gluten-free) made from barley. Look specifically for a note for gluten-free foods. There is also malt extract made from rice , which does not contain gluten.

In addition to baked goods and sweets, barley malt is also used to sweeten "discreetly" packaged muesli, snacks, ketchup and other convenience products. The World Health Organization ( WHO ) recommends limiting the daily intake of free sugars (including maltose) to less than 5% of energy requirements. 4 Diabetics must be particularly careful with hidden barley malt extract. The glucose it contains causes blood sugar levels to rise very quickly.

The various names for sugary substances are very confusing for consumers. If you want to avoid sugar as much as possible, always read the ingredients list before buying. Look for the element -syrup (e.g. glucose syrup, fructose syrup) or -ose (e.g. glucose, fructose, lactose, raffinose...), for example; but sweet whey powder, fruit juice, honey, etc. also contain sugar. Such additives are often "hidden" in baby food. In Germany, the BMEL banned these additives by a regulation in 2020. 6

Sugar substitutes (sweet-tasting sugar alcohols such as sorbitol E420, maltitol E965 or lactitol E966) or sweeteners (synthetically produced substitutes such as cyclamate E952, neotame E961, stevioglycosides or stevioside E960, xylitol E968 etc.) should also be used with caution as a substitute for barley malt syrup, as they are rather unhealthy. 7

Danger of confusion:

Maltitol syrup sounds similar to malt syrup. Maltitol (E965) is a sugar substitute made from maltose (obtained from corn starch). This is usually added to low-calorie foods, desserts, ice cream, jam, chewing gum and pastries. It also serves as a humectant, sweetener and carrier and has no maximum limit in many foods. In larger quantities, however, it is said to have a laxative effect. 8

Inactive malt extract should not be confused with enzymatically active malt, malt flour or baking malt. Low temperatures allow the enzymes to remain active and are used, for example, in baking to increase the leavening capacity of the dough. They are also called diastatic malt extracts because the enzymes they contain are diastases (alpha and beta amylases). 9 These active malt extracts are also often available in liquid and dried form.

To distinguish between maltose and malt extract, read our description of the ingredient malt sugar (maltose) .

General information:

Malt is a natural vegan product and one of the oldest baking ingredients. Germinating and drying the grain activates enzymes that are also needed for brewing beer. The processing into malt extract is mainly used by the food industry. However, barley in our monoculture has to contend with a number of pests - such as viruses (e.g. yellow dwarf virus), fungal diseases (e.g. net blotch disease), nematodes in the soil, lice, etc. It is therefore worth buying organic quality. The main growing area is Russia, followed by France. Pure barley, like wheat, has a high nitrogen requirement, which means artificial fertilizers. In organic farming, mixed cultures are chosen instead, e.g. with organic peas or organic potatoes. Organic mixed cultures do not require artificial fertilizers!

Alternative names for malt syrup:

In addition to the spelling malt extract and malt syrup, you can also find malt extract, barley malt extract or barley malt. Inactive malt is sometimes called coloring malt or roasted malt. In English, the terms barley malt syrup, barley malt extract or simply malt syrup are common. If rice is used, the product is called rice malt syrup.

Keywords for the use of malt extract:

According to Wikipedia , malt extract is also used as a nutrient medium in microbiology, e.g. in GYM medium 10 as a nutrient for yeast cultures, as well as a gloss and humectant.

Literature - Sources: