Wednesday, July 1, 2009

The Value of Soaking your Whole Grains – Passionate Homemaking

This is a great link. Don't know what exactly put me in the Nourishing Traditions or soaked/sprouted grains sort of mindset, but I've been looking at blogs and recipes all morning already.
What do you know about soaking your grains? I know absolutely nothing -- except that it is way way more healthy for you.

Now, most of my bread recipes call for 'sponging' my dough, but that's not quite the same thing as soaking. The sponging process is only 10-20 minutes -- soaking is 12 hours or longer, depending on the grains being used.

Here are some tips from the site shared above, Passionate Homemaking. Please share any other thoughts you have, as well as recipes you might want to share. I'd love to see more websites and blogs too.

Before I go, I have a grain mill question. I already have The Family Grain Mill, and I have the flaker attachment that I've never even used :o( I like hand-cranked, but I'm looking at the NutriMill. I found that Pleasant Hill Grains has it on sale until the weekend for $239 -- cheapest I've found so far. I'm leaning toard ordering it...though I say that quite often.
What do you like or dislike about a NutriMill? Am I just not as happy with my Family Mill because I'm too used to store-bought flour's powdery texture? Is my problem just a case of suck it up and get over it?

Ok-- the Passionate Homemaker notes:
Phytic Acid Prevents Digestion
Unfortunately, whole grains contain phytic acid in the bran of the grain which combines with key minerals, especially calcium, magnesium, copper, iron, and zinc and prevents their absorption in the intestinal tract. This makes it more difficult to digest properly.

Soaking, fermenting, or sprouting the grain before cooking or baking will neutralize the phytic acid, releasing these nutrients for absorption. This process allows enzymes, lactobacilli and other helpful organisms to not only neutralize the phytic acid, but also to break down complex starches, irritating tannins and difficult-to-digest proteins, including gluten.
For many, this may lessen their sensitivity or allergic reactions to particular grains. Everyone will benefit, nevertheless, from the release of nutrients and greater ease of digestion.

How to Soak
1. The first stage of preparation is to soak the whole grain flour in an acid medium and liquid.
The basic idea is to soak all the flour with the liquid ingredients and 1 Tbsp of an acid medium per cup of water called for in the recipe.
Acid mediums options include: cultured buttermilk, kefir, cultured yogurt, whey, lemon juice or vinegar. Dairy product acid mediums must be cultured!
- Brown rice, buckwheat, and millet do not have as high of phytate content and thus need only be soaked for 7 hours (these are great last minute grains if you forget to soak, won't be a big problem – also recommend purchasing brown rice pasta for this reason as well)
-All other grains (whole wheat, spelt, kamut, oats, etc) should be soaked from 12-24 hours, with oats have the highest level and best soaked for 24 hours.

2. Leave your grains soaking at room temperature on your counter. Cover tightly with plastic wrap, or with a plate to prevent it from drying out (especially in the case of a dough).
After soaking, you add the remaining ingredients, if required, and proceed with recipe!
Sue Gregg shares two other benefits to soaking: "There are two other advantages of the two-stage process. Several hours of soaking serves to soften the grain, resulting in baked goods lighter in texture, closer to the texture of white flour. The longer the soaking, the less necessary is baking powder. Baking soda, alone,will give enough rise. Secondly, this is a great step in convenience, dividing the task into two shorter time periods, cutting the time needed to prepare the recipe right before cooking and baking when you feel rushed to get food on the table."

Another benefit I have found to soaking is that it absorbs the liquids and expands the grains, making a larger quantity in the end. This is very true especially with my soaking oatmeal. If I forget to soak, it results in a smaller batch, but if I soak it increases the quantity and is more satisfying and filling as well. Don't quite know why this happens, but it extends the food budget further!

Whole grains overall are much more satisfying and fill you up longer than white products…so once again, more value for your money!
Soaking Cereals
Simply soak your cereals in half the quantity of water called for in the recipe with the 1 Tbsp acid medium per cup of water for 12-24 hours. When you are ready to cook, boil the other half of the water before adding the soaked grain. It will be ready in 5 minutes!
For our regular twice a week breakfast of oatmeal, I soak 1 cup of rolled oats with 1 cup of water and 1-2 Tbls of kefir. I let it sit covered overnight. In the morning I put 1 cup of water to boil on the stove. When it is rolling, I add the soaked oats and let it simmer for 5 minutes or so. We then add ground flax seeds, dried cranberries, chopped apples and sometimes a little mashed bananas and there you have an excellent high fiber breakfast.

Soaking Quick Breads
For quick breads (waffles, pancakes, muffins, etc) add 1 Tbsp of an acid medium (best with cultured buttermilk or kefir) for every cup of water called for in the recipe, cover and soak as recommended above.
If the recipe calls for buttermilk already, soak in the buttermilk or replace with kefir (which is my favorite!). I replace buttermilk with kefir completely most of the time without problem. If desired, you can also add all the other ingredients besides the egg, leavenings, and salt in the soaking mixture as well. This helps maintain a moist dough.

After soaking, I simply add the egg, leavenings and salt called for in the recipe. Sue Gregg incorporates this idea in all her breakfast recipes. She has other sample recipes on her website.

Soaking Beans
Beans should be rinsed then soaked with 1 Tbsp whey or lemon juice per cup of beans.
After soaking, drain, rinse and start with fresh water. Follow the recommended quantities as you would normally.

Soaking Yeast Breads
Soak flour, and 1 Tbsp vinegar or kefir for every cup of water called for in the recipe (leave 1/2 cup of water for activating yeast later). I like to also add the oil and sweeteners to maintain moist dough, otherwise cover tightly with plastic wrap.
After soaking, active the yeast in the remaining water with a tsp of honey. Proceed with the recipe.

----I'm sure there are several other tips ofolks can share. I would love to hear what you do to make the most healthy choices for feeding your family.


LizBeth said...

Thanks for this info. I've been trying to learn more about this, too. Liz

LizBeth said...

Two-stage process and tons of good stuff


Jeremiah 6:16
Thus saith the LORD, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls.

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