Mom of nine saves time and money sprouting own flour and baking bread!
Kimarie of Cardamom’s Pod joins us today with an amazing sprouted flour tutorial. My grandmother was a mother of nine who baked all her own bread (white flour, certainly, but made with love). I truly honor women like Kimarie and my Busia who are open to life and joyfully raise large families while nourishing their bodies with real food.
Plus, I’m really thankful for this guest post because I was supposed to soak some whole grains yesterday for sprouted flour, but I forgot. I won’t have photos in time for Excalibur giveaway week (Don’t miss 6 a.m. Thursday, hint, hint!) Here’s Kimarie:
Should You Soak Grains?
First of all, I’d like to heartily thank Katie for this knee-knocking opportunity to guest post on Kitchen Stewardship! I’ve really enjoyed the topics she posts here on her extensive website, especially the delicious recipes. It’s been delightful to find like-minded people as interested in the nitty-gritty details of real food as I am!
So, why am I here? It all started a few weeks ago when I commented on her post that explored the debate about soaking grains. I made a friendly comment that although our family enjoys soaking some of our grains/flour – that I had decided to make my own sprouted flour to reduce the phytic acid in whole grains. To give a little history, and in the style of one of Katie’s posts 🙂 I thought I’d include a portion of our conversation that took place in the comments. Katie asked me a few questions, and I’m sure she had no way of knowing what she had started. A post that had been milling around in my head for a while about how I sprout large amounts of grain came to the forefront. I replied with what is probably my longest comment ever!
I can dry 3 gallons worth of sprouted grain in my 9-tray Excalibur dehydrator in about 12 hours or less. According to my dehydrator book, which is 10 years old, it costs 3 cents per hour to operate. Let’s just double that for today’s costs – at 6 cents per hour, that’s 72 cents for 3 gallons of dried sprouted grain. (I won’t even get into how I can either grind that into flour, OR roll it to make a very yummy cereal that my children like better than soaked rolled oats…)
I also make my own buttermilk, kefir, and yogurt from raw milk, so I’m already saving money on that as well. I even drain yogurt regularly to make yogurt cheese, and get the whey to use for soaking – so I get double the value for that.
For me, there’s also the “mental savings” of not always having to think 24 hours ahead of time. When I want to bake with my children, we don’t want to wait 24 hours – we want to mix, bake and eat right away! There’s also the fact of not thinking about making sure I have all the soaking mediums on hand AND soak the grain 24-hours ahead of time.
We still soak a good many things, and enjoy some things soaked and others made with sprouted flour. I’ve recently acquired the Sue Gregg cookbook set, and am enjoying learning about using the blender to grind grain directly into the liquid ingredients and letting things soak in the blender.
Does this make sense? As I understand it, we have a choice between sprouting the grain or soaking the freshly ground flour for better assimilation. For me, it’s not about whether or not the soaking works, it’s about what works best for my family the majority of the time. No matter what method I use, I am no longer feeding my family unsoaked or unsprouted grain – we don’t like the results. – Kimarie
I was completely stunned by her response:
Oh, my goodness, you should definitely do a tutorial on all that! I could learn a lot – and I really connect with you on the “mental savings” – baking when you want to bake. I am sometimes frustrated by the wait period with soaking.
I’d love to use your sprouting grains post as a guest post here, so be in touch (seriously!) when it’s finished!
Obviously, we’ve been in touch… 🙂
How to Sprout Wheat
I would like to show you how I soak, sprout, and dry a batch of soft wheat berries – enough to fill a 9-tray Excalibur dehydrator. (Ahem, Katie here, taking notes. This is exactly what I’m going to do this week!) It’s really easy! I began doing such a large batch using gallon jars because it took me a lot of time to rinse 6-8 quart jars a couple times a day.
- Approximately 18 cups of soft wheat berries
- 3 one gallon glass jars
- 3 strong rubber bands large enough to fit over the jar rim
- Plastic screen mesh
- A 9-tray Excalibur dehydrator
Measure 6 cups of soft wheat berries into each 1 gallon glass jar. You’ll want to fill the jar about 1/4 or 1/3 of the way with grains, depending on what grain you are using. My goal is to have the jar completely full of sprouts, because I know that’s the maximum amount my dehydrator can handle – 3 gallons of sprouts. In these pictures I’m using old one-gallon pickle jars. You can use a canning funnel if you want to pour the grains in, but I usually just make a “funnel” with my hands to get the grain into the jar.
Fill each jar with cool water and let the grains soak for 8-12 hours. You can do this overnight, but I start my grains soaking in the morning, and I’ll explain why later. The picture below shows the grains after they were soaking for a few hours – they’ve already begun to increase in size.
Here are the grains after about 10 hours of soaking. I’ve accidentally soaked them for as long as 18 hours and everything has still turned out ok. Remember, soak times for different grains vary. Time to get ready for draining and rinsing them.
I like to use plastic window screen to cover the jars – it allows for air circulation and fast draining. You could use an open-weave cloth but I have found that doesn’t let enough air get into the jar. (Note from Katie: tulle or even small-weave onion bags are great repurposed for this!) I used a medium dinner plate as a template to make a circle of screen – this one measures about 10 inches across. It’s a little large for these particular jars, but I have other jars with wider openings, so this size is multi-purpose for me. Get some strong rubber bands – I save the ones from broccoli or other veggies and try to hide them from the children! 🙂 Place the screen on the jar and secure it with the rubber band. If you are using smaller canning jars (quart or half-gallon sizes, regular or wide-mouth) you can use just the canning ring to hold the screen securely on the jar.
To drain the grains after they have been soaked, I like to rinse and drain them again before sprouting. To rinse, I nearly fill the container with water, and then place my hand over the screen, turn the jar on its side, and swish the grains gently back and forth a bit to rinse them well. You’ll come up with your own technique that works.
To drain, I get the grains “leveled out” while the jar is sideways, then remove my hand from the screen and let the water gently flow out of the jar. I prefer not to put the jar all the way upside down, because I want the grains to have air circulation around them while they are sprouting. This prevents them souring.
Now you want to put the jars somewhere where they can continue to drain as they begin to sprout. For these jars, a 9×13 glass pan works perfectly. Be creative, and find what works for you. You’ll want to rinse the grains thoroughly about 2-4 times a day. Usually I will remember to rinse after each meal, and before bed.
How Long Does it Take to Sprout Wheat?
These particular berries I’ve been using start to show sprouts pretty quickly. When I drain the grains and set them sprouting before I go to bed, this is what I see in the morning, and it moves pretty quickly from there. This is why you don’t want it to be at this stage before you go to bed. You can wake up to pretty long sprouts!
According to Nourishing Traditions, you should sprout wheat berries until the sprout is as long as the grain – so that’s no more than 1/4 inch or so. Then I read in Sue Gregg’s Whole Grain Baking that for making sprouted flour, you can dry the grains when the sprouts are just showing at 1/8 inch or so. I’ve dried longer-sprouted grains before, and I just prefer my grains here. Recently I did a batch of Kamut and the sprouts got about 1/4 -1/2 inch long. I still dried them and they were delicious – actually almost sweet. There was just a lot of dried “tails” and fuzz all over the dehydrator and counters when it was done.
Here are the sprouts when I like to dry them – just when you start to see a little three-pronged sprout. This is nearly 24 hours since I drained them the previous night – I told you this soft wheat is fast! Remember that with different grains the time to sprout will be different. You can see the sprouts have nearly filled the jar, they expand a little bit more while they are sprouting. Sometimes I rinse them one last time, other times I don’t. Put them in a colander, or turn the jar upside down to get them drained really well.
(Of course, if you want, you can simply put the grains in the fridge at this point, and use them in bread or cook them in a casserole. My children like to snack a bit at this point and have “wheat chewing gum” – they’ll take a spoonful of grains and chew them until they get a teeny tiny bit of rubbery gluten. But that is for a different post…)
How to Dehydrate Wheat Berries
Prepare the dehydrator trays for drying the grain by cutting more screen mesh to fit over the larger-holed plastic mesh (use the white dehydrator mesh as your template). I’ve dried grain without using the window screen, but some grains do fall through as they shrink. By using the window screen, you’re prepared for any size grain you’ll be sprouting.
Here are all nine trays with their piles of grain ready to be spread out. One gallon of sprouts is divided to fill 3 trays.
I think it’s neat that I have as many children as I have dehydrator trays! So when the time comes to spread out the grain, it goes really quickly for me with all the helpers – a few are below. Just make sure it’s spread out as evenly as possible.
Here the sprouts are all ready to go into the dehydrator!
Here is a “before” picture that shows the sprouted grain in its “plump” state:
Load the trays into the dehydrator, and set the temp to 145º F. I dry the grain for 12-24 hours, depending on the type of grain and the humidity level in my house. With my method, I usually start the grain drying at night before I go to bed, setting the timer for 24 hours. (In my comment earlier, when I said 12 hours or less, I realized it seemed less because the bulk of the drying is going on while I am sleeping.) In the morning I check the sprouts and adjust the timer based on how they are doing. Sprouted buckwheat dries very quickly, while sprouted Kamut takes longer than the soft wheat. Another thing to think of is to put your dehydrator in a room that you don’t mind getting a little warm, and you’ll want to consider the noise. The Excalibur is very quiet in my opinion, but everyone has different tolerances of “white” noise. I keep my dehydrator on top of my dryer in the laundry room, where it blends in with the other noises.
If you don’t have a dehydrator, you can try drying the grains in your oven, but the temperature should not go about 150º F to avoid killing all the enzymes you helped to develop! I’ve used my propane oven with the door slightly ajar, but that heats up the kitchen. Of course, if you have a convection oven, check to see if it has a dehydrator setting. A friend of mine uses her car as a dehydrator – she puts things in there on the sunny dash and cracks the windows open. I think this could even be improved by putting a small fan in there to circulate more air. Be sure to do this if the air outside is not too humid, otherwise the car method won’t work!
When you think the grains are done, test them by simply chewing or chopping up a few to see if they are as crunchy as a regular unsprouted grain. Here is what the grains look like afterwards – much like the original grain and almost the same size, except a little shriveled with varying lengths of tiny dried “tails”. You want to make sure they are very dry, especially for the sake of your grain mill if you plan to grind these into flour.
When I take the trays out of the dehydrator, it’s very easy to just stack them on top of each other while they’re full of grain. It saves time going back and forth to the dehydrator and emptying the trays one by one.
I usually have my children help me store the grain, but in this picture I show you how one person can do this. To get the grain off the dehydrator trays, gently move it into a pile in the center. Lift up both sides of the mesh, making a handy chute to pour it into whatever storage container you are using. In these pictures, I’m using a 2-gallon ziploc bag – it’s much easier with a rigid container! It takes only a little bit of practice to not spill grains while you’re doing this.
How to Make Sprouted Wheat Flour
In my house, 18 cups of wheat berries is “only” enough to make one 5-6 loaf batch of bread, which doesn’t last long! So I usually just store the sprouted dried grain in ziploc bags on my pantry shelf. It’s usually not there longer than a week! For longer storage, you can put them in a refrigerator or freezer in appropriate containers. A friend has offered me the use of her vacuum sealer, so I may try that and see how long the whole dried sprouted grain lasts unrefrigerated. You can also roll/flake/crack the grain, or simply grind it into flour.
Voila! You now have sprouted flour readily available to use in any of your recipes without soaking for 24 hours. It is absolutely delicious. Thanks to my gallon jars and my Excalibur dehydrator, I think I may actually be able to get to the point where I never run out of sprouted whole grain flour!
If there is anything that was not clear, please do not hesitate to ask. If you have a particular sprouted grain that you love, or a favorite recipe, I’m all ears. Once again, thank you, Katie, for inviting me to be a part of your excellent website!
By the way, dear readers, here are some related thoughts:
- Why Sprout Grains?
- How to Sprout other Things
- Sprouting is nifty for breads, but even MORE nifty for things that can’t be soaked, like cookies and some bars, and even muffins are better not soaked.
- You can win an Excalibur dehydrator HERE on Thursday!!
- AND you’ll get a chance to win a Nutrimill grain mill this fall!
- Watch for more dehydrator how-to posts all week and into the next, including an update on crispy nuts with some almond pasteurization information
- Don’t miss the other post from today: a giveaway for The Nourishing Gourmet’s eCourse, A Peasant’s Feast!
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