The Difference Between Pumpernickel and Rye Bread

Pumpernickel and rye bread are definitely in the same family, but you should consider rye bread to be the parent.

Both rye bread are great for making sandwiches or toast, and are real staples of German cuisine. But they can be quite different taste experiences.

The main differences between pumpernickel and rye come from the part of the grain used, and how coarse the flour is before the bread is made.

What Is Pumpernickel Bread?

Pumpernickel is one of several types of rye bread. It’s a dark bread made with pumpernickel flour, which is coarse rye meal. This rye meal includes rye berries that have been coarsely ground.

Pumpernickel bread

The bread is usually very dense and dark in color, because it is often made with crumbs from other types of bread, including rye. Pumpernickel bread tends to have a strong flavor due to the fact that it is normally steam-baked at low temperatures for a long period of time.

In addition to pumpernickel flour, this type of bread usually has at least a small amount of wheat flour added to it. Why? Because pumpernickel flour has no gluten in it. In order to have the proper taste and texture, it needs to have something made with gluten added to it.

It gets its sweetness from the natural sugar found in the rye, which is also how it gets its dark color.

European pumpernickel bread makes a great accompaniment for borscht or smoked salmon.

What Is Rye Bread?

Rye bread comes in two main types: light and dark. When making light rye bread, white rye flour is used. White flour is made by grinding the endosperm of the center only of the rye berry. It’s a light color because the flour doesn’t contain any of the bran, the germ, or the outer seed coat. This doesn’t affect the taste for the most part, but it does affect the color. Nevertheless, many people prefer light rye because of its taste and its texture.

Light rye bread

When making dark rye bread, two methods can be used.

In the first method, the bread is made the same way as light rye, the only difference being that some coloring and flavoring are added. Flavoring can come from ingredients such as molasses or cocoa powder.

In the second method, a different grind of rye flour is used. It’s more like whole grain. They mill the flour from the whole endosperm of the rye berry, and this is the part that contains a lot more color pigments.

Dark rye bread

In addition, they grind the flour a lot more coarsely, which gives anything baked with this flour a different taste and texture.

Those are regular rye breads. You’ve probably also heard of marbled rye bread, which is a combination of both light and dark rye breads. This is possible because both types of rye flour have the same density, so mixing the light rye and the dark rye dough together creates a nice, even, and uniform bread in the end.

Marbled rye bread

Rye bread is often used in delicatessen sandwiches and can be served with many kinds of deli meats or cheeses. It’s also great toasted with coffee.

Nutritional Data

If you’re buying or making bread for its nutritional benefits, just know that both pumpernickel and rye breads have a lot of vitamins and minerals, but there are still some differences.

Pumpernickel is higher in some vitamins and minerals than rye bread, including phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, and fiber—the latter measuring 6.5 g as compared to rye’s 5.8 g per 100-gram serving.

Rye, on the other hand, has 3.85 g of sugar, whereas pumpernickel has only 0.53 g per 100-gram serving.

Nevertheless, in some vitamins and minerals, rye bread comes out the winner, including selenium, folate, and vitamin B3.

When it comes to things such as iron, calcium, and sodium, both breads are roughly the same. The same goes for vitamins B2 and B5.

Pumpernickel is lower in saturated fat and has a lower glycemic index (GI), which is why many people choose this bread over any other type of rye bread on the market.

Once you learn more about these two types of bread, you’ll understand why each is actually very good for you. Naturally, each bread has a distinct flavor and texture. Whether you make the bread yourself or buy it at your local farmers’ market, you’ll find the taste compelling.

That being said, for certain types of diets—including low-fat, low-carb, low-calorie, and low-GI—pumpernickel is probably best.