The New Bread Lab

The Bread Lab combines science, art, and curiosity to research grain diversity, expand the availability of regional grains, and explore innovative applications and techniques for improving wholegrain milling, baking, cooking, and malting.  The Bread Lab’s mission is to promote whole grains as an essential element in healthy diets and in profitable, equitable, and stable agriculture systems.

To this end, in addition to the core work in classical (non-GM) plant breeding, each year the Bread Lab’s scientists and PhD students test thousands of experimental grain lines to identify those that perform well for farmers and that offer improved nutrition and delicious flavor.  Then our resident baker, bakers around the country, and visiting bakers and chefs work with selected grains to determine the products and formulas that best capture their unique qualities 

The Bread Lab’s leadership in developing a vibrant regional grain economy in western Washington has evolved into a model increasingly adapted by other localities.  This recognition, plus our commitment to safeguard public access to grain research and our collaborations with farmers and other stakeholders, defines the Bread Lab as the unofficial national headquarters for wholegrain discovery across a range of food and beverage categories.

GROWING TO MEET THE NEED

The growth of interest in healthful foods has heightened the demand for wholegrain products that taste good.  This, in turn, is creating a solid increase in requests for Bread Lab research, educational outreach, and consultation.  Not surprisingly, we’ve outgrown our original 600 square foot corner lab at Washington State University-Mount Vernon Research Station.  With generous support from the Port of Skagit County, we are moving into a 12,000 square foot facility, just minutes from our previous location and within walking distance of Skagit Valley Malting, Gielow Pickles, Chuckanut Brewery (under construction), Skagit Valley College’s new brewing certification classroom (April 2016), Biscuit Ridge Country Mill (summer 2016), and a grain processing and storage facility (under construction).

The new Bread Lab will accommodate several major improvements including an enlarged bread laboratory, a milling laboratory, a professional kitchen, meeting areas, and, in collaboration with King Arthur Flour, a state-of-the-art baking education school.  The upgraded infrastructure will support the Bread Lab Plant Breeding Program and parallel laboratory, culinary and bakery testing of grain qualities and functionalities.  By creating a meeting space for ongoing collaboration and experimentation, the new facility keeps the Bread Lab regionally anchored while continuing to work with our partners to cultivate a nationally relevant transformational model for a regional agricultural ecosystem.

Washington State University