Soaking and Sprouting Grains

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Soaking and Sprouting Grain -

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There are a growing number of folks out there having a hard time tolerating grains. Some discover allergies to wheat or gluten, but others find that any grain bothers them.

So what’s up with grains? Many reasons can lead to problems with grains, but one of the biggest issues is that we simply eat grains WAY too much, and we eat them with an enormous amount of preservatives, sugars, and even more gluten added to them.

There’s wisdom in the saying, ‘too much of a good thing’. Our culture is saturated with grains in every meal and snack – and we happily eat it in abundance.

Grains are hard for our bodies to digest. They’re full of carbohydrates that, once digested, are quickly converted to sugar. Over consumption of any food that is high in carbs or sugar can lead to candida. And the limited grains we do eat should be properly prepared by soaking or souring so that our digestive system isn’t overloaded.

I’ve only scratched the surface here. If you’re concerned about grain I encourage you to keep researching and becoming informed. Some of my favorite books on this topic are:

You only have one body – be good to it. :)


Soaking and Sprouting Grains Before Cooking or Grinding into Flour:
1. Combine 1 cup of grain, 1 cup of warm water, and 2 tablespoon of an acidic liquid (homemade yogurt, kefir, buttermilk, whey, lemon juice, or apple cider vinegar) in a large jar. (You can increase the total amount of grain to be soaked as long as the water and acidic liquid is increased as well.)
2. Cover your jar with a cheesecloth and rubber band to keep out bugs. Let it sit at room temperature for at least 7 hours and as long as 24 hours for best results.
3. If you go for longer than 7 hours, you should drain the liquid, rinse the grains, and add more water and acidic liquid about every 8 hours.
4. When your soaking time is done, drain and rinse.

If you want to sprout your grain, continue with the steps below:
1. Tilt the drained jar on its side (with the grains still inside and the cheesecloth still rubberbanded to the top of the jar). Shake the grains to level them out (for more air flow). Tilt the jar into a bowl or pan to catch drips.
2. Rinse every 8 hours or so. After another 24 hours you should notice tiny little sprouts on the ends of your grain.

Voila – you’re done!

Now you can cook your grains as you normally would, or if you want to grind them later, spread them out on dehydrator sheets and dry them until they’re good and dry. Store your grains in a glass jar. You can then grind the grain into flour and use as you normally would.

Soaking Flour for Baking
If you don’t grind your own grains, or you don’t have the time or equipment to sprout and dehydrate them, you can *soak the flour (it’s still best to use whole wheat flour) called for in a recipe and still receive the health benefits.

1. Combine all of the wet ingredients in the recipe with the flour only.
2. Make sure to add 2 tablespoon of acidic liquid (homemade yogurt, kefir, buttermilk, whey, lemon juice, or apple cider vinegar) for each cup of flour. (This is not necessary if the recipe already contains one of these acidic liquids.)
3. Cover and let sit for 12-24 hours – the longer the better. (Note: If you include eggs in your ‘wet ingredients list’, refrigerate the batter for the 12-24 hours. If you have enough liquids in a recipe that you don’t need the eggs to help moisten it, then you can leave them out until you finish the recipe later. If you leave the eggs out you can let the batter set out at room temp for the 12-24 hrs. It seems that the proteins and phytic acid is broken down better at room temp.)
4. Add the rest of the ingredients (and eggs if you’ve left those out) and continue recipe as normal. Add more liquid if recipe seems dry.

Note: soaked flour recipes may take a bit longer to cook.

*If you want to get every possible benefit from soaking your flour, sourdough is the best method. Fermenting/Sourdough grains break down gluten and other difficult to digest proteins is a practice that goes back to biblical times, our ancestors in the days of sourdough bread and covered wagons, and the not so distant past of our grandparents.  It’s not too complicated either (whew!).Read how on our Sourdough page.

Soaking Rice
Rice needs a starter and to sour at a very warm temperature (90 degrees F).

1. Soak brown rice in water for 16-24 hours at about 90 degrees. (you can do this by setting up a hotplate, a pan of the water and rice, and letting it ‘sour’ in 90 degree water.)
2. Change the water and rinse every 4-6 hours to remove waste and bacteria from the rice.
3. Drain and reserve 10% of the final soaking liquid (keep in fridge – keeps for a long time).
4. Cook the rice in broth or fresh water and butter. (You won’t need as much water since it has soaked up quite a bit at this point.)
5. The next time you make rice, sour it in water PLUS the reserved soaking liquid. Repeat the steps for souring the rice and again reserve 10% of the soaking liquid in the fridge. The process will gradually improve until 96% or more of the phytic acid is degraded at 24 hours. After the fourth cycle of using this liquid, the brown rice becomes significantly softer and more digestible.

Read these articles for more information on:
Part 1: Soaking and Sprouting
Part 2: Soaking and Sprouting Grains
Part 3: Soaking and Sprouting Nuts
Part 4: Soaking and Sprouting Beans (a.k.a. legumes)

photo credits:

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I’m Paula - like many of you I wear a lot of hats. Child of God, wife of 17 years, mother of five, reluctant cook, full-time teacher, chocolate-snatcher, and children's author. Various family health issues including Lyme disease and candida has turned me into a 'researcher'. I don't have initials after my name, a degree in anything but motherhood, or a framed certificate on my wall. What I do have is a passion for understanding how our God-created bodies thrive or deteriorate based on what we put in it. Oh, and I also might mention homesteading, homeschooling, fitness, herbs, faith, and anything else I'm thinking about. . . like wow, I need to refill my tea. . .
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  1. Anonymous says:

    Hi Paula. I just found your site and wanted to say that you have some great information and recipes. I also would like to ask you humbly if you have read the article about Phytic acid by Sue Becker over at Bread Beckers. I came across that after reading so many posts about soaking and fermenting grains. I knew that along with everything else I do, it would just be too much to add to my schedule. Also my husband was not thrilled about wetting grain to turn around and pay to dry it…just to pay to bake it. We mill all of our grains and it would be very labor intensive to do this. Anyway I prayed and prayed that somehow I would find an answer that would clear things up. Somehow it just didn't sit right with me to take the word from Sally Fallon and other unsaved people about this. Also too many believers seem to have jumped on her bandwagon. Could the Bible be of help on this? Bread Beckers article seemed to put me at ease. If you feel like it, I think it would be of benefit to you.

    Humbly His servant,
    Mrs. Williams

  2. Hi Mrs. Williams,

    Thank you for sharing this information. I read the article and did a little more research. As you can see by the changes I've made on this page, I found so much more information about phytic acid than I had before.

    However, even if phytic acid isn't as much of an issue as we first thought, there are so many other health benefits of soaking to consider.

    I know how overwhelming it can be to think about soaking grains. I've been there many times! But I've learned you don't necessarily need to soak the grain and dry it before you use it. Simply soaking the flour needed in a recipe before baking or making a sourdough version is just as effective.

    Soaking the flour also breaks the recipe into parts and, in my opinion, makes the final stages of meal preparation, when you are busy with several other recipes, much easier because you already have about half of the soaked recipe completed.

    I agree that we can't take just anyone's opinion and run with it, no matter if they are Sally Fallon or not, yet I believe God can use the saved and unsaved to share the discoveries they've made with others.

    Again, thank you so much for sharing – you've certainly given me a lot to think about!

  3. All this trouble confirms my suspicions that grains are not a natural food for humanoids. Substituting the same caloric value from extra vegetables for starchy carbs should up one's vitamin and mineral count substantially. If you feel you are losing something from not eating the grains, purchase the germ of the grains you are feeling deficient in. Such is where the good oils, vitamins and minerals are found anyway. After all those veggies, meat and nuts if you still have an empty spot, there's always chocolate.

    Nix the chocolate, I am sure Mrs Homo habilis would have agreed with me.

  4. I forgot to add that I do soak all raw nuts. I have trouble with un-soaked almonds especially. Following the O blood diet I use only walnuts and pumpkin seeds. I brine soak over night. Then I wash them well, salt them and pop them into a very slow oven. It takes about 8 or so hours but what a great treat. My friends think I am nuts but I do loads at a time and since I limit my intake to a small handful a day, I can get by for months before starting over again. I am thinking about trying sesame seeds next, though they are not a beneficial food for my blood type.

    I am curious about flax seeds. Don't know how one would or if one should soak it. This is the only grain I eat but I usually do it raw ground up and added to my morning mix of dried ground powders – chilli pepper, Rosemary, cinnamon, ginger and turmeric in distilled water. As you can see, I don't need it to taste good to send it to my gullet. This is my excuse for succumbing to my addiction to dark chocolate.

    I might also add that since giving up on anything wheat and grains with gluten my hip no longer hurts and I have feeling (what you might call sensuous) in my feet and legs for the first time in my life.

  5. Hi Paula,

    I don’t have the equipment to mill my own grain, so I am interested in the soaking of already milled flours – or a GF way to make sourdough starter.

    If a bread is a soured does that mean those with a sensitivity to the gluten would be alright eating it?

    My son isn’t “allergic” by medical definition, but we cut out gluten and dairy over a year ago for behavioral reasons (in place of medicine doctors were recommending we weren’t comfortable with) and noticed a major change in him both behaviorally AND digestive changes (like, he hasn’t have a stomachache since we cut it all out!).

    Should I soak your GF mix for your GF bread?

    • Hi Becca,

      Sorry for the delay in getting back to you.

      Soaking won’t help the starchy flours, but it is beneficial for the grains. So yes, if your son sees benefit from soaking flours first, then he should also see a benefit from soaking the GF mix too.


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