Most people think malt is a milk product, just like cream. But in reality, malt refers to malted grains and malted barley, making it a vegan ingredient.
To be precise, most malt products are vegan, including malt loaf, malt flour, malt extract, malt liquor, and malt vinegar. However, malted milkshakes and malted milk have cow’s milk, making them non-vegan products.
Malt has several vegan products to choose from, although you must read the labels before buying something. Read on to learn about different vegan-friendly malt products and categorize them before making a selection.
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Malt – A Brief Description
Malt refers to cereal grain dried in a process known as malting. The malted barley or grains are germinated in water and then dried with hot air to eliminate the germination.
Although the actual origin of malting is suppressed in antiquity, there is a myth that Egyptians created malt by placing the malted barley and malted grains in a wicker basket, which they then dropped into the open wells of that time. After some time, they raised the basket above the water level for germination.
Compared to original malted grains, malt has a sweeter taste. Its dessert-like, sweet taste has to do with the malting process. During malting, enzymes are formed that convert the starch in barley and grains into fermentable sugars like sucrose and maltose.
Types of Malt
You can break down malt into numerous diverse categories. For starters, there are diastatic malt and non-diastatic malt available out there. The main difference between these categories is that diastatic malt has active enzymes. In contrast, the non-diastatic ones contain enzymes deactivated by heat during the malting process.
Brewers also divide malt into two categories: base malt and specialty malt. The specialty malt provides unique viscosity, aroma, and taste and is treated with heat instead of mashing. Meanwhile, the base malt offers fermentable sugars, which means this malt needs to be mashed while brewing to break complex sugars.
Different Malt Products
People use malted barley to create hundreds of products, such as malt flour, loaf, milk, vinegar, liquor, syrup, and more. Some of these products are dairy-free and vegan, while others contain animal products.
To help you out in selecting a vegan malted product, below, we have discussed the most popular products and whether they are vegan or not.
Is Malt Syrup Vegan?
Malt syrup is a natural robust-flavored sweetener that has become a fixture in the natural food realm. This product contains 65% maltose, 30% complex carbohydrates, 5% protein, and other nutrients. In addition, malt syrup is a by-product of malted flour, making it 100% vegan and dairy-free.
Is Malt Flavor Vegan?
Malt flavor is usually made out of malt syrup or malt extract. This product has a unique and nutty flavor. Because malt extract and malt syrup are vegan and dairy-free, 100% pure malt flavoring is vegan.
Are Malted Milkshakes Vegan?
When it comes to milkshakes, there are both vegan and non-vegan products available out there. Generally, these drinks contain cow’s milk, making them a non-vegan product. However, instead of dairy, you can also use malt flavoring to make delicious and mouth-watering vegan malted milkshakes.
Is Malted Milk Vegan?
Malted milk combines barley extracts, wheat, and condensed milk from cows. As this product involves dairy, malted milk is not vegan.
Is Malt Powder Vegan?
Malt powder generally refers to two different things: malted milk powder and malted barley flour. So, while selecting a malt powder, you must know what it is. The malted milk powder contains cow’s milk, which makes it a non-vegan product. On the other hand, malted barley flour is entirely vegan.
Is Malt In Pretzels Vegan?
The malt used in pretzels is usually malted barley that was partially sprouted (germinated). As this malting process does not involve dairy, milk, or other animal products, the malt in pretzels is entirely vegan.
Is Malt Loaf Vegan?
There are both vegan and non-vegan malt loafs available in the market. Soft malt loaf recipes include honey, eggs, and other animal products, making them non-vegan recipes. In contrast, other recipes include only malted barley, which is naturally vegan.
Malt loaf is usually eaten with butter. So, if you are vegan, you will need some vegan butter, something like vegan spread by Earth Balance. For strict vegans, here is a delicious vegan malt loaf recipe from The Spruce Eats.
Is Malt Flour Vegan?
Malt flour or malted barley flour is entirely vegan. This flour is made out of malted barley and other malted grains, which are partially germinated. There are no milk, dairy, or other animal products involved in this process. Compared to other flours, malted barley flour creates darker and moister end products.
Is Malt Extract Vegan?
This product is made from malted grains that are converted into “wort” and then condensed. There are no dairy or animal products involved in this process. Perfect for brewing, malt extract is entirely dairy-free and vegan-friendly.
Are Malt Balls Vegan?
Malt balls are one of the most common treats available out there. These chocolate-coated balls have a distinctively hearty or nutty flavor, just like a grain cereal. They are sold in milk carton packaging to promote several milk products, such as malted milkshakes and malted flavored milk.
As malt balls are made of powder milk and wheat flour, they are not vegan. However, they are suitable for those following a vegetarian diet.
Is Malt Liquor Vegan?
Liquor is one of the most popular beverages all around the world.
Unfortunately, as many brands use isinglass and other non-vegan ingredients, it’s pretty hard to find vegan liquors. To enjoy liquor as a vegan, we recommend considering malt alcohol and beers.
Some leading brands offer malt liquors that are confirmed vegan, such as:
- Country Club Malt Liquor
- Schlitz Malt Liquor
- Steel Reserve
- Colt 45
To learn more about alcohol brands and vegan alcohol, you can check out Barnivore.
Is Malt Vinegar Vegan?
Last but not least, we have malt vinegar. This product is usually considered dairy-free and vegan. Malt vinegar is created from malt extract and germinated malted barley through the malting process. It is free from dairy and animal products, making it dairy-free and vegan.
Health Benefits of Malt
Malt is an ancient food with modern benefits. Humans have been using malted barley for more than 10,000 years. However, its nutritional benefits have only recently been appreciated by nutritional science.
There are several evidence-based and proven health benefits of malt, including:
According to many studies, the malting process can help improve the digestibility of cereal grains. This process can reduce anti-nutrient content, which decreases the body’s ability to absorb and digest different nutrients.
A journal published in Food Research reported that a combination of malting, pearl millet, and sorghum could increase the digestibility of protein.
As malt contains hordenine – a compound with mood-boosting effects, it positively impacts your mental health and mood. In addition, a study conducted by Scientific Reports concluded that the hordenine in malt could activate dopamine receptors primarily associated with beer.
Promotes Healthy Cholesterol Level
One of the most significant malt benefits is that it may promote healthy cholesterol levels. According to several studies, malted barley can decrease waist circumference, body mass index, and belly fat. Plus, this ingredient can lower cholesterol levels to avoid several heart diseases.
Supports Digestive Health
Besides enhancing digestibility, malt also supports your digestive health. According to some research, malt extract eases the growth of probiotic cultures that offer better digestive health by promoting good bacteria.
These bacteria can influence your cholesterol level, nutrient absorption, immune system, and more other than digestive health.
Contains Several Nutrients
Malted barley can be an excellent source of several crucial nutrients. Malt is an abundant source of micro minerals, B-complex minerals, dietary silicon, amino acids, minerals, and vitamins. Plus, it can reduce the total fat in your body.
According to Food Science and Technology, the malting process effectively boosts the quality of pearl millet which can increase protein content. In addition, it contains vitamin B6, folate, potassium, and fiber that decrease the risk of cardiac arrest and lower your cholesterol level.
In a Nutshell
Pure malt is entirely vegan. However, when it comes to malted products, there are both vegan and non-vegan options available. Of all the malted products available out there, the ones you need to worry about are malted milkshakes, malted milk powder, and malted milk. As these products contain dairy, milk, and other animal products, they are not vegan.
You can go through the list mentioned above to always select a vegan malt product. Other than that, we also recommend reading the product label before making a purchase.