Beremeal is a creamy coloured whole flour made from bere, an ancient and genetically pure variety of barley (although it differs in both appearance and taste) grown in Scotland since around 2000BC. Bere is now grown only in the far north of Scotland, Orkney and Shetland and the Western Isles. This grain is dried in Birsay Mill, providing an earthy, nutty flavour and then ground through three sets of millstones. Beremeal makes excellent bannocks and blinis and adds flavour and texture to other baking. It's suitable for those on a wheat free diet although sadly not for coeliacs as there is still some gluten
Bere has been grown in Orkney for thousands of years, both for human and animal food. In the old days, it was called Bygg, and this is still the name given to barley in Norway. Although we call the meal beremeal, the crop is usually called corn in Orkney. It has been the staff of life in Orkney - in the form of bere bannocks and home brewed ale - since time immemorial. The gourmet will easily tell the difference between ale made from barley and that made from bere. The same applies to bannocks.
How to make a traditional Orkney bere bannock
2 cups of Birsay beremeal
1 cup of plain flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cream of tartar
salt (if desired)
Add milk, water or buttermilk to make a stiff but soft dough
Roll out on a floured (mixture of flour and beremeal) board to form the bannocks (this will make 2 or 3)
Cook on a hot, ungreased girdle 5 minutes or so each side until both sides are browned and the middle is cooked.
Add a bit of butter, a slice of cheese and enjoy!