Wheat Tasting December 2012

group2_650For this year’s wheat tasting we outdid ourselves (perhaps overdid ourselves) with nineteen (NINE-TEEN!) different wheat varieties from farms in California as well as Oregon and Washington. Each variety was presented in three different applications: cooked whole grain wheat berries, flat bread, and pasta.

Our goal with these types of exercises is to help develop a common vocabulary allowing for bakers, millers, and farmers to speak to one another about flavor components in different varieties of wheat. We also have an additional interest in familiarizing ourselves with wheat varieties that have shown promise growing in CA and/or are known to offer exceptional flavor.

Our tasters (admittedly flagging towards the end there) were great sports offering up their observations on texture, flavor components, and occasionally suggesting uses for certain varieties. Due to the sheer number of varieties it is difficult to include all that was said, but tasters were kind enough to turn over their notes afterwards from which we have compiled the following list.

tasting_jenny_notes_480General observations: Durum makes the best pasta, Ethiopian Blue Tinge makes a great flat bread, and the corn-like qualities of Sonora could lend nicely to a tortilla. Overall favorites: Red Fife, LP3, Marquis, and Yecora Rojo.

TASTERS
Bob Klein – Owner, Community Grains
Jenny Raven – Pastry Chef, Oliveto Restaurant
Nancy Silverton – Owner/Chef/Baker – Osteria Mozza
Matt Molina – Executive Chef, Mozza
Liz Hong – Sous Chef, Mozza
Russell Jones – Plant Biologist, UC Berkeley
Lance Winters – Master Distiller, St. George Spirits
Matt Taylor – Farm Manager, Front Porch Farm
Harold McGee – Writer
Sherry Yard – Owner/Baker, Epic Bakery
William Rubel – Writer, Food Historian
Craig Ponsford – Owner/Baker, Ponsford’s Place
Brian Wood – Owner/Baker, Starter Bakery

PARTICIPATING FARMS
(MGP) Mendocino Grain Project – Mendocino, CA
(FBF) Full Belly Farm – Yolo County, CA
(CCF) Clover Creek Farm – Lake County, CA
(WSU) Washington State University – Mt. Vernon, WA
(CCM) Camas County Mill – Alvadore, OR

For full descriptions of all varieties tasted click here.

wheat_tasting_vertical_200PASTA WHEATS

Variety: 2011 Durum-Iraq (MGP)
Taster notes: sweet*, bitter aftertaste*, mild aroma, bland, dusty, lemon, creamy, butter, clean, vibrant, toasty, oatmeal flavor

Variety: 2012 Durum-Iraq (MGP)
Taster notes: not as sweet*, intense, nutty, mild, not as bitter, less length

Variety: 2012 Durum-Iraq (FBF)
Taster notes: creamy, barnyard, well-balanced, slightly butter, nutty, sweet, acidic, grassy

HARD RED WINTER WHEATS

Variety: 2012 VNS (CCF)
Taster notes: nutty, rich, sweet, buttery, orange fragrance, spicy, astringent

Variety: 2012 LP3 (WSU)
Taster notes: sweet*, barnyard, dense, bitter, coffee, earth, bean, rich almost fatty

HARD RED SPRING WHEATS

Variety: 2012 KELSE (CCF)
Taster notes: austere*, caraway*, buttery texture, musty, grass, legume, lacks length, sweet, boring, bland, bitter finish, spicy, sunflower, mineral

Variety: 2012 Yecora Rojo (CCM)
Taster notes: sweet*, mild, pleasant, malt, earth, simple, lacks complexity, woody, hay

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LANDRACE/COMMON WHEATS

Variety: 2011 Chiddam Blanc (MGP)
Taster notes: spice*, gingerbread, white pepper, earthy, grass, corn, mild, toasted, flat, buttery, beany, musty, subtle, boring

Variety: 2011 Foisy (MGP)
Taster notes: one-dimensional*, bland*, hay, grass, corn, barnyard, slightly bitter, moldy

Variety: 2012 Foisy (MGP)
Taster notes: toasted*, hay, grass, corn, caramel, lacks flavor

Variety: 2011 India Jammu (MGP)
Taster notes: toasted*, corn* (corn, popcorn, cornmeal) peppery, some spice, buttery, mellow, corn, popcorn, oat, graham cracker, orange peel, dust, sweet

Variety: 2012 Marquis (MGP)
Taster notes: sweet*, tannin, grape skins, dusty, nutty, subtle, round, barnyard

Variety: 2011 Red Fife (MGP)
Taster notes: lingering finish*, buttery, hearty, spice, polenta, sweet, mild. Legume

Variety: 2012 Red Fife (CCM)
Taster notes: toasted*, grass, barley, dust, honey, barnyard, mildest of red fifes

Variety: 2012 Red Fife (CCF)
Taster notes: bitter, less flavorful, grassy, subtle, plain, sunflower

Variety: 2011 Sonora (MGP)
Taster notes: corn*, bland, mild, leathery, fleshy, toasted

EMMER WHEATS

Variety: 2012 Ethiopian Blue Tinge (FBF)
Taster Notes: spice*, nutty, toasted, coffee, bitter, round, soft, creamy, floral

Variety: 2011 EthiopianBT (MGP)
Taster notes: legume, roasted, chestnut, lacks intensity

Variety: 2012 EthiopianBT (MGP)
Taster notes: mild, sweet, baking soda, boring, biscuit flavor

*agreement among tasters

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