The embryo of a seed or kernel of grain, located at the bottom center of the kernel. The germ is the oily part of a kernel or seed from which a new plant sprouts. It contains protein and fat and is loaded with vitamins and minerals, so it is highly nutritious. The germ is often eliminated (as is the outer protective layers known as the bran) during the production of many types of refined flours, such as those milled from wheat. This reduces the nutritional value of the flour, but increases the shelf life of the product due to the elimination of the fat (all within the germ), which hastens spoilage. (Whole-grain products deteriorate much more rapidly because of the presence of the fat in the germ.)
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