What’s The Deal With Sprouted Grains?
If you’re already digging into ancient grains, you might know about sprouted grains, which have been showing up in breads and crackers, as well as in the diets of vegans and raw foodists—with some pretty incredible health claims. Read on to learn what’s up with the latest grain trend.
What Exactly Are Sprouted Grains?
Sprouted grains are exactly what they sound like. Grains are seeds—they’ll germinate into new plants when subject to a damp, slightly warm environment (similar to one you’d find in good soil). By re-creating that atmosphere in your kitchen, you can make grains germinate. And instead of sowing these seeds to grow into full new plants, you can eat them once they sprout or grind them into flour. Sprouting grains likely grew out of an accident, the result of storing them in a moist, rather than dry environment.
Why Eat Sprouted Grains?
Sprouted grains nourish your body in two ways. First, the germination process mimics digestion: The seed starts to break down, deactivating the compound phytic acid that can make the grains easier on our systems. Second, our cells absorb more of a grain’s many nutrients when the grain has sprouted, including zinc and iron.
How Do You Sprout Grains?
While sprouting grains takes some time, it doesn’t require much hands-on effort. Start with any grain that’s completely intact. (Skip hulled barley, white rice, and instant oatmeal, which have vital components stripped and may not germinate.) Discard the grains that look damaged and wash them well. Soak grains in a jar for about 12 hours, then strain the water, but keep the grains in jar. Cover the top with a porous material, such as cheesecloth secured by a rubber band; you want it to be breathable—grains need oxygen as well as water in order to sprout—but bar any intruders, like bugs or bacteria. Many sprouting experts turn the jar upside down over a rack so that the grains don’t sit in residual water.
Rinse the grains twice a day to keep the grains moist and clean, then drain well and let sit in a warm place out of direct sunlight. Repeat this rinse-and-drain process until you see little sprouts poking out of the grain. This should happen within a day or two, though it may take up to five days. As soon as the sprout appears and up until the sprout is up to ¼” long, sprouted grains are edible raw or cooked.
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