I have wanted to sprout grains and make flour for quite awhile. I tend to read a lot of different things around the Internet and in books, and then mentally compile them into a rational reason for doing something. Certainly, it's easier to open a bag of flour and make a baked good, but the more I read about flours, chemicals, digestion, and nutrition, the more sprouting seems to make good sense to me.
Obviously, I am the type who often makes more work for herself than needed - and the truth of that is that I have the time and I enjoy it. As I read frequently by electronic means, I consider how I'd make a good Amishwoman excepting of this technology thing. Oh, and the dresses - not too sure I could swing that either. A few things withstanding, the Amish way of life is close to what I'd like if I could choose anything. The idea of making whatever I need, bartering with others, and country living all appeal to me greatly. I may lose a Husband if I ever felt I needed to act on this urge, but truly I am happy being urban-ish "amish" for now. Especially if I can make, barter, and discover on a whim, and with the aid of a computer.
soft wheat berries.
The Amish are in a time freeze somewhere around 1860, probably before the smooth mechanization and distribution of flour. From all of my readings on sprouting wheat (and other grains), I take away that sprouting wheat increases both digestibility and food enzymes and decreases phytic acid
: the acid found in nuts, seeds, and grains that is undigestible to humans. When the grain is soaked and allowed to begin germination, the phytic acid breaks down, allowing the nutrition in the grain itself to enter our systems.
I think of the Amish, because every Fall, I witness the sheaves of corn and occasionally wheat dotting the countryside near my Parent's farm. I figure that even though most of that grain is likely going to livestock and is not for human consumption, it is most likely healthier for those ruminants because essentially it is sprouted. The sheaves are left standing in the elements, even the rain, and then allowed to dry - the way our ancestors likely treated their grains by necessity. When demand and modernization caught up with us, the grains and flours were able to be processed quickly, more efficiently. The once nutritional flour powerhouse we are left with is basically plain and white, devoid of life-giving, healthful properties.
I won't lie. It takes time to sprout. Largely unattended time, but time nonetheless. Purchasing sprouted flour is costly, and really I have never considered it. My curiosity for most things culinary, and my new VitaMix that can actually grind wheat into flour, led me down the road of sprouted flour. I have to say it will be hard to turn around. After my first batch of soft wheat berries was ground up into flour, it bore no resemblance to anything I ever thought of as flour.
sprouted to tiniest tails.
The smell, and taste for that matter, of the freshly ground, sprouted and dried grain is incredible. I can't describe it, it's just wholesome and clean. I have no dehydrator so I dried the sprouted berries in the oven at my lowest temperature, 170 degrees. I left the oven door open with a wooden spoon, and frequently put my hands in to toss the grains around on the baking sheet. It took about 3 hours until the grains were dried, a much shorter time than I was expecting after reading around... but I chomped on a few and confirmed that they were fully dried.
After they cooled, I stored them in the freezer until yesterday when I decided I couldn't wait anymore to grind them. Since I sprouted the only wheat berries I had on hand, I didn't know if they were hard wheat (suitable for bread making) or soft. Yesterday when I visited the bulk bins at my co-op
, I knew by sight that they were soft wheat, probably purchased for salad making. My dreams of making my first homemade, sprouted wheat flour into bread was gone, but a healthy baked good could result. I picked up some more hard wheat berries and some spelt berries to experiment with and headed home to figure out what to make.
sprouted, dehydrated wheat berries.
sprouted wheat flour.
I have to gear up to make my Daring Baker challenge, so I didn't want to make a cake. I settled quickly on making some cookies, which are wholesome enough to showcase the brilliance of this new sprouted flour. (And, the Boy-O devoured them too!) They were delicious, and I should have made a whole batch instead of a half... since these aren't going to last too long. For the half batch, I used 2 eggs, which worked out fine.
Sprouted Wheat Cookies
(this is the whole batch amount, about 4 1/2 - 5 dozen)
- 1 cup unrefined, virgin coconut oil, softened
- 1/2 cup raw honey
- 3 eggs (or they recommend 1/4 cup flax seed meal + 3/4 cup pure water)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 2-1/4 cups sprouted wheat flour
- 1/2 cup chocolate chips
- 1/2 cup raisins
- 1/2 cup chopped nuts (I used walnuts)
- 1/2 cup unsweetened coconut
- 1/2 cup rolled oats (soaking recommended, but I did not do that)
Cream together room temperature coconut oil and honey in large mixing bowl.
Add eggs to mixing bowl (or the flax seed/water mixture that has been mixed and allowed to stand for 5 minutes) along with vanilla and beat.
Sift flour, baking soda and salt in a medium size bowl, and add to wet ingredients in mixing bowl. Mix until just combined.
Add chocolate chips, nuts, coconut, and oats to mixing bowl. Mix gently until just incorporated.
Drop by tablespoons full onto parchment lined baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 12 to 15 minutes, rotating pans halfway through.
Be sure to drop by the GNOWFGLINS website, as there is an enormous amount of information and great looking "traditional foods" recipes!
We do live in a "gluten-centric" culture here in America, and I have to wonder if that may account for the seeming increase in gluten allergy. My Husband's box of highly colored and sugared cereal even touts "whole grain" and "high in vitamin D", the buzz words that cause and reinforce consumer purchase. But what is whole grain? From now on, my whole grain is going to be an actual whole grain berry if I can swing it. The cost differential isn't that great, and if I am half as happy with the bread as I was with my cookies, it will be well worth it.
I'm sure this will not be the end of my sprouted grain tinkering. Here is a (partial) list of things I've been reading lately on sprouting: