The majority of wheat grown across the globe is common wheat (Triticum aestivum) the grain of which has three parts.
The bran forms the hard outer shell which protects the inner structure of the grain.
The endosperm forms the largest part of the wheat grain. It is comprised mainly of starch and is the part millers' prize as flour.
The wheat germ is the reproductive part of the grain which grows into a plant. Although just 3% of the grain, it is nutritionally the most valuable part containing a plethora of vitamins, minerals, protein and oil which is extremely rich in vitamin E.
How is wheat germ produced?
Milling is the process by which wheat is ground into flour. Milling separates the wheat grain into its constituent parts; bran, germ and endosperm.
Although wheat germ is highly nutritious, its high oil content renders flour which retains the wheat germ liable to rancidity and deterioration. Whilst the bran and wheat germ are retained in whole meal flours, the majority of flour produced is white refined flour from which the wheat germ and bran are removed.
Wheat germ is a nutritionally valuable commodity. It contains protein, vitamins and minerals and 7-9% wheat germ oil which is an exceptionally rich source of Vitamin E however it contains high levels of moisture and the enzyme lipase which render the germ susceptible to rancidity and accompanying undesirable flavours. Raw wheat germ has a short shelf life; less than 3 months from milling. It also has a bland, floury taste. All of these issues can be addressed through gentle processing of the wheat germ.