I have been reading about home malting here and here for the purpose of making my own malted flour. However, I doubt my grain has been inspected for Fusarium and, if using rye, I'm not sure if I ought to worry about Ergot either.

I understand this is (practically) an internet forum and I should not be asking for safety advice. However, can anyone say 'Yes, you definitely need special quality grains, special malting equipment' or something else in order to safely practice home malting? Also, since I'm baking, not brewing, would the heat destroy any potential toxins?

  • "I doubt my grain has been inspected" - why? Where did you bought it? – Mołot Jun 22 '17 at 12:52
  • @Mołot Sorry, I am sure it has been inspected and cleaned. However, it is not labeled as particularly for malting so I am unsure whether it would have been inspected for Fusarium. I bought it from Amazon so perhaps I will question the seller. – sirdank Jun 22 '17 at 16:18
  • Ergot could be a real trip, except for your nose falling off from ergotamine poisoning. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ergot Caution is advised. – Wayfaring Stranger Jun 22 '17 at 19:27
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    @WayfaringStranger I'm aware of the dangers which is why I have no intention of cultivating rye. However, I don't believe ergot grows on flour. Please correct me if I'm wrong. – sirdank Jun 22 '17 at 19:39
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    @WayfaringStranger Looks like I'm not cultivating anything then :) If you find any reliable sources that say it can grow on already milled flour (rather than requiring a maturing grain to develop), I would be very happy to hear about them. – sirdank Jun 22 '17 at 20:00

In Poland any grains need to be inspected when delivered from farmer to the company that buys and stores it. And then it is inspected few times more before it reaches fina consumer. If you bought it in a food store, and if your country has similar legislation (many countries do), it should be safe.

I heard, but never was able to confirm or debunk, that sometimes food-grade grains are treated with chemicals that prevent germination and spoiling. Of course it might depend on the region you are in, but if that's the case for you, you will not be able to malt it, obviously. But you will see your grain not sprouting, so no real harm in trying.

Now, ergot. Chemicals it produces can cause hallucinations, muscle cramps and even necrosis of hands and legs and temperature does not remove these toxins. All effects mentioned was observed in people who ate it in baked products. Of course effects depends on dosage, but if you have any doubts about ergot and can't get your grain inspected, throw it away. For small batches of grain, ergot should be visible: Ergot image

Sadly, it's less visible when grain is wet, and practically impossible to see in flour.

I believe in "better safe than sorry". Other fungi can leave toxins that are bad for you and can't be removed by baking, too. Not all of it will be as visible as ergot, and luckily most of them aren't as bad for you, either. Still I prefer to throw away some grain and buy safe one later than to risk poisoning.

For the equipment, remember floor malting. No need to overthink it. If grain was safe, just be careful to keep things clean.

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  • Ergot should be pretty visible, from what I've read, the problem was them not knowing it was bad in the first place and not taking the time to remove in large scale use. If you pick out any grains that look visibly bad (large, black, misshapen etc) it shouldn't be a problem...I mean, there might be other problems, but likely not ergot. – Megha Jun 22 '17 at 13:11
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    @Mołot Forgive my imprecision: I do believe the grain has been inspected and it is certainly free of ergot. Really, I have no reason to doubt it was inspected for Fusarium except that it does not appear to be specifically for malting. It's raw so it's sprouting fine and everything appears to be going well. You have assuaged my fears and I will carry on. Thank you! – sirdank Jun 22 '17 at 16:17
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    Yes, It is fine - your answer was good to begin with, though your expansion is also nice. My comment was only meant to be supplementary information. – Megha Jun 22 '17 at 16:53
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    I hate that "sometimes food grains are treated to prevent germination story". Store bought bulk Coriander usually sprouts to make nice cheap, tasty Cilantro. But the only way to be sure with other seeds is to suck-it-and-see. – Wayfaring Stranger Jun 22 '17 at 19:30
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    @WayfaringStranger recently I've seen people using bird food to seed cannabis for traditional rope making. And to protest. Don't know if they succeeded for either group, though. – Mołot Jun 22 '17 at 20:32

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