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When I first started on my road to making homemade bread, the word wheat berry was being tossed around.  Wheat huh?  You mean flour comes from a wheat berry?  Yes, the 5lb bags that we buy at our local grocer filled with powdered flour is actually ground, whole grain wheat berries from the wheat grass.

A wheat kernel (berry) is an edible seed composed of three parts – the bran, the endosperm, and the germ.  Since the wheat kernel is left intact, virtually none of the nutrients are stripped away.

The bran is the outer covering of the kernel. It makes up only a small portion of the grain but consists of several layers – including the nutrient-rich aleurone – and contains a disproportionate share of nutrients. The bran layers supply 86 percent of the niacin, 43 percent of the riboflavin, and 66 percent of all the minerals in the grain, as well as practically all of the grain’s dietary fiber.

The starchy endosperm accounts for about 83 percent of the grain’s weight. Most of the protein and carbohydrates are stored in the endosperm, as are some minerals and B vitamins (though less than are in the bran). This layer also has some dietary fiber; for example, about 25 percent of the fiber in wheat is found in the endosperm.

The smallest part of the grain is the germ; it constitutes about 2 percent of the kernel’s weight. Located at the base of the kernel, the germ is the part of the seed that if planted would sprout to form a new plant. It contains a good amount of polyunsaturated fat, and, as a consequence, is often removed during milling to prevent grain products from turning rancid. The germ is also relatively rich in vitamin E and the B vitamins, though it has fewer of the latter than are found in the bran or endosperm, and some minerals.

White flour is actually made by stripping the bran and the germ, leaving the white endosperm.  This refined flour looses between 48-98% of the many naturally occurring vitamins and minerals.

For those of you familiar with Nourishing Traditions, a lot of focus has been pointed to the phytic acid level in the whole grain.  In the book it’s explained that all grains contain phytic acid (an organic acid in which phosphorus is bound) in the outer layer or bran.  Untreated phytic acid can combine with calcium, magnesium, copper, iron and especially zinc in the intestinal tract and block their absorption.  In order to neutralize the phytic acid levels, Nourishing Traditions teaches it’s readers to soak their flour in an acid medium overnight.  It starts a fermentation process creating lactobacilli to aid in digestion and breaks down the phytic acid allowing our bodies to absorb important minerals.

This took me awhile to understand and quite honestly, it never really made sense to me.  Now, I’m not saying that soaking is not doing something, but I honestly feel their are inaccuracies in this research.  Katie, from Kitchen Stewardship brought this to my attention a few months ago and she is currently doing A LOT of research to figure this whole thing out.  If you’re interested, she’s running a series on this topic that is very interesting.  In her latest post, she pointed to an article called, Phytic Acid – Friend or Foe by Sue Becker.  Her knowledge in this area makes tons more sense to me so I will no longer be posting about soaking any type of flour or legume for reasons provided by NT.


So now that that is out of the way, a nourishing technique that does go back centuries is sprouting your whole grains.  When you sprout a whole grain or any seed for that matter, it is the beginning of it’s life… germination.  This life begins in the germ of the grain. When a grain starts to sprout, it begins to multiply and develop nutrients in order to provide enough nourishment for a fully mature plant.  Some protein is lost during the sprouting process, however, vitamins, enzymes, minerals and trace elements skyrocket shortly after germination!

Baked goods using sprouted grain are significantly higher in protein, vitamins and enzymes, and the complex starches are converted into natural sugars.  Since these starches are converted into natural sugars, many wheat intolerant people are able to eat sprouted wheat bread without any problems. They are also low GI,  so they are digested more slowly by the body, keeping the blood sugar levels stable for longer, making people feel more satisfied.  This leads to less snacking.  It is interesting to note that the more highly processed a food is, the higher GI it is.  A loaf of white bread is significantly higher GI than a loaf of sprouted grain bread.



So the benefits…

  1. Increased vitamins, enzymes, minerals and trace elements
  2. Easier digestibility
  3. Low GI, great for diabetics!

It’s a win win situation and so easy to do at home!!

Sprouting Whole Grains

Materials Needed

  1. Quart Glass Mason Jar
  2. Sprouting Screen or Coffee Filter
  3. Chemical Free/Organic Wheat Berries
  4. Food Dehydrator
  5. Grain Mill

 Steps

  • Fill a quart mason jar with 2 cups of wheat berries and 4 cups of filtered water overnight.
  • The next day, rinse the wheat berries and add a sprouted screen to the top of the lid or a coffee filter.  Place upside down in a food colander in your sink.
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  • Rinse the sprouts every few hours or a minimum of 3 times for a maximum of 3 days.
  • The wheat berries can start to produce sprouts within 1 – 3 days after you start the process.  Keep your eyes on them.  After the sprouts are a small bump or 3mm they are done!
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  • After your grains have sprouted, the next step is to dehydrate the wheat berries so that you can grind them into a flour to use for home baked goods!
  • Place the sprouts on the racks of your food dehydrator and dry them on the lowest setting (95) overnight.
  • You can then place your dried sprouted berries in a large mason jar and store them in your refrigerator to keep them fresh!
  • Grind them in your grain mill, or blender and use for an additional boost of nourishment in all of your baked goods!
sprouted_bread


32 Responses to Sprouting Whole Grains

  1. Fresh Local and Best says:

    This is a great post Diana! So incredibly detailed and informative!

  2. Miriam says:

    Brilliant!

  3. Simply Life says:

    wow, this is great to know! thanks!

  4. Kristen says:

    I have sprouted mung beans and lentils, but never wheat berries! Thanks for the tutorial!

  5. oldwaystable says:

    Yay for whole grains! :)

  6. Denise @ Creative Kitchen says:

    Diana,

    Great informative post…esp for those new to whole grain and breadmaking. Though I make my own whole wheat bread, I have never made it with sproated wheat berries. I don't have a dehydrator, so I buy the ezekiel bread.

    I'm glad to see you and I are both of the same opninion regarding the soaking of grains and nuts. The Sue Becker piece is what really made a lot more sense to me, so therefore I have never soaked my grains. Thanks for spreading the word on that. ;)

  7. Earthgrlie says:

    Thank you for this post! I have really been confused by the idea of soaking grains as NT teaches. I appreciate your comments on that topic, very helpful! I have started experimenting with sprouting beans, I tried Garbanzos this week. Your post was just perfect timing!!

  8. Divina Pe says:

    Diana, that's fabulous. I had the same feeling before. I started sprouted legumes first as wheat berries are hard to find. I think we have it hear now. Thanks for this post Diana. You're awesome!

  9. Sustainable Eats says:

    Diana,

    This was really helpful to see how you've managed to do enough jars at once to make it worth the energy to run the dehydrator. I've always wanted to try this but for some reason it seemed a little daunting to me.

  10. ohel says:

    I am fairly new to your blog, so maybe you wrote about it before – what is a "Dehydrator"? can one use a baking oven instead? how long does it take to dry the wheat kernels?

    Thanks,
    E

  11. Diana Bauman says:

    Thanks everyone for the comments! It really is such an easy technique that can sound quite overwhelming when you first hear about it. It did for me.

    I've never sprouted legumes so I am quite excited to tackle that!!

    Ohel – Thanks for stopping by. Here is a link to the food dehydrator that I have…

    http://www.nesco.com

    You most certainly can use an oven to dehydrate as I used to do this. The downfall to an oven is that you need to constantly be watching what you are drying to make sure that it doesn't start to "cook." You do need to lower your heat to the lowest setting. My oven goes down to 170F. In order to prevent browning and cooking, I would crack the oven door and place a fan right outside on top of a chair directing the airflow to what I was trying to dry. This would keep the air circulating and cooler. As you can tell it can be a bit daunting. My dehydrator is now my best friend as I use it for so many different things. I make fruit roll ups, dry wheat berries, coconut flakes, and I will be getting to homemade granola shortly!! As soon as preserving season hits, I'll also be using it to dry peppers, herbs, tomatoes, and yummy summer fruits! As you can tell, it's a great investment :D

  12. ~Sara says:

    Great post Diana. I learned alot! I have been looking at grain mills, and have been toying with the idea of making my own flour but have never really heard of sprouting grains. Thanks for the wonderful tutorial!

  13. ~Sara says:

    Also, forgot to ask, what type of grain mill do you use? Do you have any suggestions for first time buyers?

  14. My Little Space says:

    Awesome post, Diana! So informative and really helps in learning the sprouting process. Thanks for sharing.

  15. Mar says:

    Aunque no he entendido muy bien que es esa semilla me quedo con la enchilada roja que me ha encantado…
    Un beso desde España

  16. Paula - bell'alimento says:

    Always so informative Diana!

  17. Jen @ My Kitchen Addiction says:

    Looks like a great technique that I will have to give a try! Your bread looks beautiful.

  18. Laryssa Herbert says:

    Wow! This is amazing. I'm going to have to try this. I already sprout our beans and rice, so this will feel familiar.

  19. Michelle @ Find Your Balance says:

    All I need is the grain mill! I love sprouting, but usually eat the grains intact. Flour will take things to the next level!

  20. Tiny Urban Kitchen says:

    Excellent post! I didn't think you could sprout the wheat berries, and then grind them up for bread again. My mom sometimes will sprout mung beans into bean sprouts and then saute them. She swears it tastes better than any store bought bean sprouts. :)

  21. Carol Egbert says:

    I was shocked at how sweet sprouted wheat berries are.

  22. notyet100 says:

    thanks for this awesome post:-)

  23. Fuji Mama says:

    I am dying to try this! Fascinating and informative post!

  24. Anonymous says:

    Keep posting stuff like this i really like it

  25. Miranda Rommel says:

    Wow – information packed. I'm excited to try this out myself, with my new dehydrator. Blender? that works well enough to grind to a flour?
    Interesting that you're not buying into the soaking overnight method anymore- i got NT for christmas and have delved into it full blown. But one must always weigh different opinions and not store all eggs in one basket – i've found that soaking my grains for morning porridge has felt healthful and more easily digested… so i don't think it is hooey. But good to question one person's opinion. I'll just have to have a good balance of soaked and sprouted on hand to be sure i'm getting something good every day :)

  26. Anonymous says:

    Love the post, it's very interesting and enlightning. I wonder how it works to make Sprouted Brown Rice like for lunch, not for making breads. How is it done? Does the brown rice has to be of a special kind?
    Thanks Diana!

    Mar.

  27. Miranda Rommel says:

    Specifics:
    my sprouts may have already gotten a little long (was humid and waaaarm yesterday) but i want to dehydrate today: what temp setting and for how long??

  28. Dan says:

    The homemade whole wheat sprouted bread looks great. I want the recipe!

  29. Giles says:

    Thanks for this interesting info. That’s a good article about Sprouting Whole Grains.

  30. [...] by means of lacto-fermentation, methods of preparing our grains or healthy fats for brain development and cardiovascular [...]

  31. [...] A grain mill is a home mill that grinds wheat berries into homemade flour.  If you’d like information on wheat berries, check out my post on sprouting wheat berries. [...]

  32. I found your site on foodblogs.com and thought I’d stop by and check it out. I just subscribed to your feed and can’t wait to see what your next post will be!
    CJ at Food Stories recently posted..Spaghetti al Limone

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