Before going in detail about the substitutes for wheat germ, it is good to first learn what it is. A single grain of wheat is called Kernel, and is a seed that grows into wheat grass. A whet kernel can be divided into 3 distinctive sections;
Wheat germ is a tiny part of the grain, which is also the reproductive part of the kernel. As the name suggests, it germinates and forms the wheat grass. Wheat germ is considered as the most nutritional part of the seed.
It is removed from the kernel and then used as a supplement in different recipes because of its high nutritional value. However, in case of absence of this ingredient, or someone intolerant to gluten, then a substitute may be needed to replace wheat germ.
Wheat Germ in Bread
Many people enjoy baking their own bread. However, it is important to note that wheat germ is added for nutritional reason only. It does not affect how the bread is prepared or formed, nor affects the taste in a major way.
Whole Wheat Flour
In case one runs out of wheat germ, the same amount of whole wheat flour can be added instead. Whole wheat flour is also produced from wheat kernels which include the germ, and so contains some wheat germ in it.
Flaxseed serves as another great substitute for baking bread. Similar to wheat germ, flaxseed has a rich amount of nutrition within it, along with highly beneficial compounds such as omega-3 fats, folic acid and a wide range of vitamins and minerals.
Almond Flour (Gluten Free Option)
Even the smallest amount of wheat can lead to severe side effects or a strong reaction. So to avoid contamination with gluten, almond flour can also be used instead. Besides being completely free of gluten, it is well-tolerated by most people. It has a sweet taste, making it a great substitute for wheat germ.
Oat bran is free from gluten, which is the wheat protein that many people like to keep away from. There is evidence that oat bran can trim down cholesterol level in blood. Oat bran does not have a distinct taste, so one can further include an extract or sweet flavor without increasing fat or sugar.
Wheat bran is a good fit as it is similar in taste to the germ. Nevertheless, it is clearly extracted from wheat, so it does contain the same properties of gluten as wheat itself.
Rice bran is quite popular and mostly used for baking non-gluten breads, cakes and cookies. It has a light, crispy texture and a light color in contrast with wheat germ, so one can add a honey sweetener for caramelization. Same amount rice bran is used as wheat germ. It is best to store rice bran in an airtight container in the refrigerator or freezer to prevent it from turning rancid.
A final option for wheat germ substitute is buckwheat groats, which are naturally void of gluten, and have a tasty nutty flavor. Buckwheat groats can be roasted to further enhance the flavor, and it can be simply grounded in a small spice or coffee bean grinder just before adding to the recipe.
Any one of these options will work well in most recipes, and they can offer a supplementary taste also. With these easy to use substitutes, one can make their own baked goods free of gluten without a problem. Or, in case of running out of wheat germ, these alternative sources can see through.