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Bran is referred to the covering of any cereal or grain. Usually, bran is a hard type of covering that is removed while processing the grain. Though bran is considered as the by-product of the processing of cereal but it is a highly nutritious product and after its removal almost all cereals lost half of their nutrients. The grains with bran are called whole grains. Bran can be easily obtained from rice, oat, wheat and many other such cereals. Due to its high nutritional properties it is widely used in making bran recipes. Bran recipes usually include either cereals with bran or bran itself as an ingredient. The list of popular bran foods comprises of bran bread, muffins and breakfast cereals with bran. The term bran is often confused with ‘chaff’ but the latter is inedible fine covering of grains that is mostly considered as a waste product or as animal feed.

History and Origin of Bran

The history and origin of bran is still mysterious or unknown. No one knows who introduced the bran as an edible item but only this is known that benefits of eating bran were first publicized during the time period of 1980-1990. The research of Dr. Denis Burkitt, a medical officer in Africa, during 1970-1980 has confirmed the fact that high-fiber bran diets are most likely to provide various health benefits. He was the first to discover that constipation and some stomach inflammation occurs due to the insufficient consumption of bran diet. Hence all these claims led to the popularity and introduction of bran recipes in a normal diet.

Culinary Uses of Bran

Bran is one of the excellent sources of fiber in a diet. Bran can be easily incorporated in any diet with the use of whole cereal grains. In case whole grains are not available, bran can be individually added to make bran foods. Mostly it is used to make breads and muffins. Bran flour is widely used to make cakes, cookies as well as other bakery products. Oat bran, wheat bran or rice bran are some of the most popular forms of bran that are used in preparing several bran recipes. It is basically added to enrich the preparation with dietary fiber. In one of its unique use, bran is used to make pickles. Few soups and stews are also the part of the list of bran foods. Bran oil also has varied uses in culinary world and rice bran oil is one of the kinds. Bran recipes are commonly eaten in breakfast and make a very healthy option.

Popular Bran Recipes

• Blueberry bran muffins – Muffins is one of the most popular bran recipes that usually makes a tasty and healthy breakfast dish.

• All-bran loaf – It is one of the healthiest bran foods that can be served in breakfast as well as in main course.

• Oat-bran raisin bread – This high fiber bran recipe is made with the goodness of raisins. It can be eaten as a tea-time snack or as breakfast bread.

• Borscht – It is a Romanian soup dish in which fermented bran of wheat is used to give the sourness to the soup.

• Bran porridge – It is also one of the most popular high fiber bran recipes for breakfast.

Cuisines Commonly Making Bran Recipes

Bran is such an ingredient that is eaten mostly in all cuisines among health conscious people. In American cuisine, bran muffins, cakes, cookies and breads are very commonly served as tea-time snacks or as breakfast dishes. Japanese cuisine uses bran in pickling. In Japan rice bran is popularly known as ‘nuka’ and it is widely used to ferment vegetables for pickling. ‘Nukazoke’ is the kind of pickle that uses rice bran. A Japanese city called ‘Kitakyushu’, rice bran is called ‘jinda’ and often to make fish stew. Another significant use of rice bran in Japanese cuisine is related to its oil. Oil obtained from rice bran is fondly used as cooking oil. Romanian cuisine is also famous for making sour soups by using fermented wheat bran. Bran is a highly used ingredient in Indian cuisine. Bran roti and wheat bran khichdi are some of the famous Indian bran foods.

Preferred Methods of Making Bran Dishes

• Baking – This is one of the main methods of making Bran recipes. Muffins, cakes and loaves call for this method.

• Pickling – This sounds unique but pickling often calls for bran where fermentation is required.

• Boiled – Fermented bran is often boiled to make sour soups.

• Fermentation- Various Bran dishes involve fermentation of bran.

Nutritive Value of Bran

Though bran is considered as a by-product of cereal processing, its amazing nutritional properties make it a highly demanding ingredient these days. It is believed that a daily consumption of bran recipes reduces risk of bowel cancer and also helps in preventing constipation and piles. Oat bran which is high in soluble fiber helps in reducing cholesterol in body. Other types of bran are also considered high in dietary fibers. For diabetics, almost all bran helps in increasing glucose metabolism. Apart from all these benefits, bran dishes are highly loaded with essential vitamins, minerals and other nutrients.

Consumption Criteria of Bran

The excessive intake of bran that is also considered as insoluble fiber gives rise to some new problems such as irritable bowel syndrome. Certain mineral deficiencies are also caused by High-fiber diets.

Buying and Storage of Bran

Bran-based foods are known as whole grains and they should be purchased from trusted grocery shops. Often bran comes in ground form hence care should be taken while purchasing rancid and stale bran. Whole foods or bran-based foods are often un-processed and free from preservatives that reduces their shelf-life. By keeping this in mind, bran should be stored in a cool dry place and should be consumed as soon as possible. Leftover bran dishes should also be kept in refrigerator.

Types of Bran

Bran can be obtained from various cereal grains and all are nutritious but differ in properties and uses. Some of the most popular forms of bran are as follows:

• Wheat bran – This type of bran is obtained from wheat. It is high in dietary fibers and used to make whole wheat bread and Indian roti.

• Rice bran – It is referred to the outer covering of rice grains. It is widely used to extract rice bran oil.

• Oat bran – This type of bran is fondly used to make bran recipes such as oat bran bread and oat bran pancakes.

Other commonly used bran varieties are maize bran, barley and millet bran.

Bran Trivia

• Bran boiled with bamboo shoots is used as a dish washing substance in Japan.

• Rice bran oil is considered as a natural beauty treatment.