How to Sprout at Home
By now most folks have been introduced, or I should say reintroduced, to the goodness and digestibility of sprouted grains and sprouted grain flours. Sprouting grains is not a newfangled food trend, but a tried and true traditional preparation of grains dating as far back as biblical times and as modern as the industrial revolution. Until modern farm equipment was invented to gather grains out of the field quickly for shipment to cities and large storage facilities, grains were cut and stored in the fields until time to use or sell them. The dew and rain would naturally sprout the heads of grain.
Today, at home methods of sprouting your grains before baking them entail a few easy steps and not very much time; and the benefits are worth each step of the process.
- Sprouting neutralizes phytic acid, a substance present in the bran of all grains that inhibits absorption of calcium, magnesium, iron, copper and zinc.
- Sprouting neutralizes enzyme inhibitors present in all seeds.
- Sprouting produces numerous enzymes.
- Sprouting breaks down the starches in grains into simple sugars so your body can digest them like a vegetable (like a tomato, not a potato).
- Sprouting produces vitamin C.
- Sprouting increases the grains’ carotene and vitamin B content.
So let’s get started!
Things you will need to sprout:
- 4 to 8 quart mason jars with large-mouth lids
- 1 plastic needlepoint grid, 7-mesh size (available at WalMart or craft store)
- 1-2 large round bowls big enough to place 4 of your mason jars in at an upright angle
- A large colander and small strainer
- ¼ cup organic cider vinegar
- 6-11 cups of organic grains (For breads, cookies, and pastries try wheat or spelt. For sour dough starter, try rye).
- Filtered water
The first steps are to wash and sanitize your grains. You may choose to skip this step, but it takes only minutes and I recommend it. Grit often adheres to your grains and you never know what kinds of “critters” walked through the field where your grains were harvested.
1. Fill your kitchen sink with tap water (room temperature).
2. Pour your grains into the water. Agitate the grains thoroughly for a minute or two.
3. Using a colander scoop up all the grains you can. Using a small strainer and your free hand, scoop up the remaining grains into the colander. If you have a strainer that fits in your sink drain, this works great to get to the remaining grains and drain the water at the same time. Hold the grain-filled colander under the tap for a quick rinse.
4. Clean your sink thoroughly of all grit and fill with 2 gallons of tap water. Stir in ¼ cup of organic cider vinegar. Dump your washed grains in the vinegar solution. Let stand for 7-10 minutes. Repeat step #3.
Now your grains have been properly washed and sanitized. It’s time to begin the sprouting process.
1. Place about 1 1/3 cups of clean grains into each mason jar. (If you’re baking only 1 large loaf of bread you will only need 4 jars)
2. Fill each jar with filtered water. The grains will sit on the bottom of the jar.
3. Place mesh lids and screw-tops onto each jar and tighten well. Let jars sit on your counter for 4 hours.
4. The ideal temperature for fast, even sprouting is 69-72 degrees. You may need to place jars in your pantry or laundry room to maintain an even temperature.
To make meshed lids for your jars, remove a solid lid from a jar top. Place the lid on the needlepoint grid and using a pen or Sharpie, trace a circle. Repeat this step for each of the jars you will use. Cut the mesh lids out using scissors and place inside the jar’s screw-top to replace the solid lid.
5. After your grains have soaked for 4 hours (it won’t hurt if they soak for 5-6 hours, so don’t worry if you’re busy and can’t get back to them after 4 hours), hold each jar over your kitchen sink and turn upside down, letting all the water drain out.
6. Turn each jar right-side up and fill with tap water. Then turn them over again and let all the water drain out of the jar.
7. Once you’ve completed steps 5 and 6 for each jar of grains, place your jars in a large bowl at a slant with the meshed lid toward the bottom of the bowl. This will allow for more water to drain off of your grains as they sprout. Place the bowl on your counter and leave overnight.
8. If you are completing step 7 by early afternoon, then repeat steps 6 and 7 in evening and leave jars in bowl to sprout overnight.
9. By mid-morning your grains should be sprouted. You are looking for a distinct white tail on the end of the grains. Usually sprouts begin with a 2-pronged antenna protruding from the end of each grain.
NOTE: Do not let your sprouts grow beyond a ¼ inch in length or your grains will take on a “grassy” taste and will be hard to feed into your mill or grinder once dried. You get all the benefits of sprouting when the tiny antenna pops out of the end of a kernel of grain.
You’re almost finished! Now it is time to dry your sprouts.
10. Remove your sprouted grains from each jar and spread onto parchment-lined toast pans or place onto racks in your dehydrator (set at 105-110 degrees and let grains dry thoroughly).
11. If you are using your standard kitchen oven, place pans onto racks and set oven at its lowest temperature. If that temperature is above 110 degrees, prop your oven door open about 1 inch at the top using a wooden spoon or dowel. Let grains dry thoroughly. This will take several hours or overnight. NOTE: Most new ovens, since about 2000, have built-in dehydrators. Check your owner’s manual to see if you have one (it took me 3 years to discover my oven had one!)
12. Store your dried grains in an airtight container in the pantry until you are ready to mill.
Sprouting is very easy to accomplish and you are not limited to just common flour grains. I find that sprouting beans before making soups, chili, and hummus eliminates bloating and gas. Try sprouting wild rice grains and mill for gluten-free baking. There are lots of foods you can sprout for better digestibility. Be creative and have fun!
And, of course, if you are not inclined to do your own sprouting, please let us do it for you. Check out our products online. Also, we have lots of recipes on our web site to try with your fresh sprouted flour you made all on your own. Happy baking!