Dumb Questions about Sprouted Grains

plllogMay 2, 2014

Grainlady, I'm hoping you still have patience for my questions, and I welcome input from everyone else as well.

I've been trying to learn about sprouted grains and am in a muddle again. I get it that sprouting increases the vitamins and gets rid of the phytic acid, which is important for iron absorption.

I've also read that sprouting greatly reduces gluten. Doesn't that reduce the protein? Or is not the normal amount of gluten digestible? (Unlike many here, I actually feel better when I eat glutenous breads.) How does reducing the gluten affect the stretchiness of dough? Do you have to compensate for that?

Is there anything "wrong" with commercially sprouted whole grains? Other than the price, I mean.

Can freshly sprouted grains be truly dried in a modern oven that keeps in the steam?

Nutrimill specifically says not to use it with sprouted grains. Are those weasel words in case people use ones that haven't been thoroughly dried? Or do they really need a different kind of mill?

I started down this whole path towards milling because it would be so much more convenient than buying and storing flours, especially as I'm using more legumes, with the added benefit of better nutrition. But I figure if I'm going to do it, I want to start "right", rather than getting into habits that need changing. It's really hard to figure out what that is, however.

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If you have read that sprouting greatly reduces the gluten, that is incorrect, although I've read that misinformation too.

Sprouting aids people who have difficulty digesting some grains because they are essentially pre-digested due to the enzymatic breakdown of the protein. The proteins are broken down, but not destroyed. It's a digestive issue sprouting addresses, not gluten intolerance or sensitivity.

This is why many people who have a problem digesting some grains can eat sprouted-grain breads and sourdough breads (made with a long fermentation - not the "fake" flavor-enhanced commercial sourdough), because both of those methods break down the hard-to-digest proteins.

I dry grain in a dehydrator on a low temperature, not an oven, because I want the moisture to expel from the inside out. Most ovens are too hot for that purpose, and what you get is baked grain, not dried.

In the dehydrating world when you dry something at too high a temperature it develops a hard outer skin before the inside has thoroughly dried, it's known as "case hardening". The grain may sound dry (rattles in the pan), but not all the moisture has expelled because of that outer skin, and that's when you can have a problem using your high-speed impact mill. Too much moisture in grain can also cause milling stones to glaze over on a stone mill, and this can happen with any type of grain with a high moisture content, not just sprouted grain. In that case you have to remove the stone heads and clean and dry them (and why I have extra stone heads for my hand mills). In a high-speed impact mill the high-moisture grain will clog the mill and burn the motor out.

You would have to check the moisture content with a grain moisture meter in order to get an actual moisture content of anything you dry at home. I check the grain by chewing some of it. I learned how to judge moisture content of wheat when I was a kid growing up in the middle of wheat fields. My other option would be to buy a meter or take a sample to the elevator or mill to be tested for moisture content.

Alternative methods: Try using a soaked flour method instead of a sprouted and dried grain method. Sue Gregg calls it a two-stage method (good article at the link below - or check Sue's web site: suegregg.com/). That way you don't have to worry about destroying your mill.

There are also methods where you make the sprouts and blend them (raw) into a dough with a food processor without drying them first. Do an internet search on - making bread dough from raw sprouts. You'll find some videos on the subject.

Hope this information helps more than hinders.... ;-)


Here is a link that might be useful: Urban Homemaker

    Bookmark   May 3, 2014 at 7:42AM
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Thanks, Grainlady, your info always helps! That's why I keep bugging you. :) Sometimes I'm not educated enough to fully grasp things you say, but they're always simply and straightforwardly stated. I find that's true across the board with expertise. People who really have a high level of expertise tend to be able to discuss their fields with the greatest clarity and simplicity.

Re ovens, mine go down to 85ð F, which is barely warmer than my kitchen. Surely that's lower than a dehydrator. But they're also designed to filter the air exhausted and leave the moisture in the oven, which is why I'm concerned about drying in them. I'd only be able to sprout in the dead of Winter or else I'd be growing mold, and we didn't even have any Winter this year, so I thought I were going to do it, it would have to be dried thoroughly for preservation either as sprouted grains or flour.

I totally get the sense of moisture acquired as a child in the fields. Being a city girl, my only similar is the same test for if it's cooked enough. :) Grain moisture meters look like great farm tools but way more than I'd put into making a little bread in the city. Similarly, the closest (only) grain elevator is at least 15 miles away and belongs to a railroad company. Even if it were possible to drop in (it's probably secured), I doubt they'd be that interested in measuring the moisture content of some lady's jar of sprouts. :)

So, what it comes down to is that I might be able to adequately dry the sprouts if I could sprout them without growing mold, but I might not get them dry enough to mill. I could get a cheap, small dehydrator if that would do the trick.

What you said about the proteins makes so much more sense! I couldn't figure out why or how sprouting could destroy them, but I know nil about plant biology. I have a couple of people near me (i.e., whom I cook for from time to time) who can't have gluten at all, but none that I know of who need it predigested. I'm more concerned about the phytic acid interfering with minerals.

If I were baking by plan, I could soak the flour. Sometimes I just have time, however, or get an idea, and want to get right to it.

QUESTION: Do the dough recipes that call for 100% hydration of whole wheat flour plus acid, and refrigeration for at least one day, do the job of soaking on getting rid of the phytic acid?

QUESTION: Can one rely on sprouts dried in a dehydrator to be dry enough not to wreck a grain mill?

QUESTION: Are commercially available sprouted whole grains dry enough not to wreck a grain mill? Is the quality good?

Thank-you so much!

    Bookmark   May 3, 2014 at 3:25PM
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First thing to remember - there is no single food or single method that is a panacea. Your diet is made up of a wide variety of foods (or should be) of which grains are just a small portion.

--Are you mineral deficient? If you are consuming large amounts of grains/nuts/legumes high in phytic acid (especially large quantities of oatmeal which happens to be one of the grains highest in phytic acid), you can start by limiting the amount you consume, as well as off-set the minerals that are bound to the phytates by consuming other mineral-rich foods. Bread is only a minor source for minerals. For iron, if that is a concern, include more iron-rich foods and be sure to eat something high in vitamin C when you do, to aid absorption.

Baking bread also reduces the phytates. I have that information in my files someplace, but won't take the time to source it just now.

--Dehydrators: My dehydrator goes down to 95-degrees F, and I usually dry grain between 115-120-degrees F, but no higher than 130-degrees (you can also start at the higher temperature for an hour, then finish at a lower temperature). Dehydrating food is as much about air movement as it is temperature in order to dispel the moisture properly. It's better to increase the air movement rather than to increase temperature. It also depends on the relative humidity where your dehydrator is used as to how long it will take. Dehydrated foods need to dry from the inside out.

To test for moisture you can do-the-math:
1. Weigh the dry grain (which will already have a moisture content between 10-15%), and prepare the sprouts.

2. Dry the sprouted grain until it is close to, or lower than, the original weight.

--You will find sprouting and drying your own grain what I call a HUGE "make work" program you'd really rather not get into on a large scale. I sprout something at least once a week, and I would have gone crazy sprouting my grain for making breads and other baked goods. The soaked flour method is equally as effective.

--There are sprouted and dried grains/beans/seeds available if you check for sources on-line. (I also sprout and dehydrate most of the nuts we consume.) I can't guarantee commercially-prepared sprouted products won't affect your mill, nor will they. When I mill sprouted/dried grain, I make sure it is completely dry (bite test and comparison of dry weight to finished weight) and add it very slowly to the mill, and mill only small amounts at a time. I can also use my hand-mills to mill it in to flour.

For making yeast, or naturally-leavened bread, I'd choose the soaked flour method (which includes an acid), or the raw sprout method. Both have the same result when it comes to phytic acid.

--When making sprouts, are you also soaking the seeds in an acidified water solution and rinsing with an acidified water solution? Those are the new recommendations for sprouting to help prohibit microbial growth. Mold is another issue, but...

    Bookmark   May 4, 2014 at 11:45AM
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Not a dumb question. I've been studying and getting conflicting information.
I've got myself into a mess with my brown bread...during some winter storms my neighbors were treated to some of my loaves and want the recipe as well as family members. My mom and dad love it. (he buys Ezekiel) but likes mine much better.

I don't dehydrate, but soak my mixed grains to the first split, barely a tail.
"...As the grain wakes up and pushes that first little rootlet out, it converts the complex carbohydrates into simple sugars to feed the emerging plant. If you let the grain sprout too much, there isnâÂÂt enough starch structure left..."

Different problem but i'm working on it.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2014 at 12:21PM
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Thanks, both!

Grainlady, I think I learn better from dialog. I have browsed through Nourishing Traditions and read bits and pieces (I have the revised second edition, which I got maybe 6 years ago?). It's a really excellent soporific! I'm sure the information is just as excellent as you say, but my mind wanders. I could go sit in an airport lounge, which is what I did in grad school to help me focus on turgid material, but I think I learn more of what I need to take away from asking questions, so as long as you're willing to answer them, if you don't mind, I'll keep asking. (I'd be happy to make a donation to the local food pantry in return.) And I certainly understand if you just want to kick me out of the nest and leave me to fly on my own. :) I do have the book...

This all started because I wanted to make a good whole wheat pizza. I'd had a commercial one that was great, and a number that were awful. When I finally found a recipe I could wrap my head around, it wasn't perfect, but I liked it better than the very good bread I buy. So I've been working on perfecting a recipe and we've been eating pizza more than bread (i.e., home is better than bakery even if it isn't perfect, so I should start baking bread for everyday use). As you say, not the lion's share of the diet, but bread is the most likely starch around here. Very little potatoes or rice, some pasta. More leafy veg and veg-fruits like tomatoes and squash. And aromatic veg. Meat/poultry, but mostly cut up in dishes rather than slabs. A little cold fish. Too much cheese. Plenty of yoghurt. Nuts, beans and seeds in normal proportion, but I've been trying to increase them.

Not a perfect diet, but pretty good. Constantly fighting to reduce the cheese. One thing about the pizzas is that the cheese to veg ratio is lower on the cheese side than a similar cheese and veg sandwich would have.

Here I show my imperfect understanding of the phytic acid issue. We don't seem to have any gluten related digestion issues, though you said, I think, that soaking/sprouting also makes more protein digestible, leading to smaller servings. Certainly, having more digestible protein in pizza would be a good thing since generally we make them veggie/dairy.

QUESTION: In the context of a balanced diet with, say, a maximum of 6 oz. of bread per day, will the phytic acid in freshly ground wheat interfere with enough metals to cause a nutrition problem?

I haven't tried sprouting since the whole fiasco years ago with the mold. I was thinking it could be a winter project if the dried sprouts would keep, and/or could be frozen. Thanks for explaining the weight method. That makes a lot of sense and is easy.

Supposedly, one can dry foods in my oven using the convection fan, but I still think it's probably not vented enough.

My takeaway from this dialog seems to be that the best thing is to grind flour in small batches for use, soak it in an acid bath the day...

    Bookmark   May 4, 2014 at 7:36PM
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It isn't a traditional Essenes. More DanishDarkRye with sprouted ancient grains.
I need to work on it for my dad using the danish dough whisk i gave him.
I'm horrible at writing out recipes. I use grains i have on hand and always adjust a bit.
(just a tiny tail) : )

I've never bought it nor do i care for it really but nice toasted when i visit my folks. My mother will not touch it...too expensive. Probably hiding and hoarding the ones i made and left behind in their freezer, so they need to learn to make their own.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2014 at 10:19AM
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I totally understand. Thanks for the story!

I love my Danish dough whisk! Such a simple device, and so perfect at what it does!

    Bookmark   May 6, 2014 at 1:40PM
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Did a seed sprouting test. Millet, red winter wheat, rye, chia, golden flax, lentils green and brown. Individually in deli cup lids. I had splits and tails within 6-8 hrs. I even tested the cracked and pearl grains for softening. Probably why the grain bread i've been making since the new year has worked so well.
Soft seed/grain means no cutting of the gluten when mixing?
I went ahead and started my sponge/bigga at the same time and soaked a blend of seeds/grains. I did buy the sprouted grains. Wheat and spelt. Used my blendtec to grind.
(kinda pricy) My local market has the OneDegree brand.
Cut the recipe down one third that makes 4 small loaves or two boules.
Corn, teff and rye make up one cup...sprouted wheat and spelt 1/2 cup each.
Just used the dough whisk. Neighbor is going to do a field test. I have an extra/new whisk as a testing gift.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2014 at 10:40AM
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Wow! Very cool! I'm sure the neighbor loves field testing. :) I'm nowhere near being able to do all of that, but I've put the first foot on the road...

I've just made my first home milled test. It's pizza dough, of course. :) I read a lot about soaking and decided that just mixing up the dough and letting it do it's thing in the fridge for 36 hours, would be adequate. I hope that's right. The whole push-pull between chelating phytic acid, how much bran is the right amount of bran, and where the trace nutrients are and if they're available, makes my head spin.

What I can say, is that the difference between the home milled flour and good fresh King Arthur is definitely noticeable. Both are hard red winter wheat. I know that there are finer distinctions, but that's as close as I get for like to like. I think the milled flour might be a little less fine, but it's pretty close. I wish this mill did finer. It reserves the very finest that has been through the air filter, and says, "save this for pastry flour", but there's maybe a tablespoon per 2 cups of flour milled (eyeballing volume--I didn't measure or weigh it, just put it in with the rest). Still, this mill is good as a starter, and the price and bad customer service reputation for Mil-rite put me off.

Anyway, my dough kneaded more nicely, and has great texture and spring. I went back to my first recipe with the questionable flavor, and used the barley malt instead of honey or sugar.

My first baking attempt, I got distracted while the dough was resting, and it got too warm, and was tearing instead of getting on the peel. I had to roll it up and slide it onto a pizza pan. This isn't a good test of the dough recipe, but it tasted good! I think it might need a little more, or maybe a little less, malt, but there were good air bubbles, and it didn't have any of that cardboardy flavor that makes people hate whole wheat. The top part was very soft--I like a little more tooth--but I'm reserving judgement until it's a proper pizza.

New theory. Grainlady tells us that the flour can go rancid long before you can taste it. It's way too early in my conversion to milling to be making declarations, but I'm suspecting that the cardboardy taste comes from that! I haven't had that with the KA flour, but occasionally had distant echoes. For sure, the fresh tastes better. It can't all be down to the malt.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2014 at 3:22PM
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--Are you adding bran? If you are using King Arthur Whole Wheat Flour it's 100% extraction (the whole grain is milled into flour) and the bran is already in it. Some brands of whole wheat flour are actually white flour with some of the bran raked back into it to make it "look" like whole wheat flour, and has the germ removed to increase the shelf-life (the largest portion of the wheat germ oils are removed).

If you want to add more fiber, I'd suggest adding some chia seeds (or chia seed flour), freshly-milled flaxmeal, or hi-maize resistant starch. If you are buying bran separately, it will most certainly be high in phytates and probably rancid (a nasty body-damaging free-radical).

--Commercially-milled whole wheat flour tastes like road dust to me (and old, DRY road dust at that), compared to freshly-milled flour.

--It is my experience the flavor whole wheat haters dislike is the acidic flavor from the tannins in red wheat. You don't have that problem if using white wheat.

--Pastry flour (as well as cake flour) isn't just about being a fine grind, it's also about being a low-protein/gluten flour - milled from soft wheat varieties. I purchased soft white wheat from Bob's Red Mill. Use low-protein soft wheat for baked goods that don't require a lot of gluten-development: pastry, cake, biscuits, quick breads of all kinds.... For a fine low-gluten "cake" flour, mill a 3:1 ratio of soft white wheat with oats OR spelt.

--(Source: Nourishing Traditions) When you add an acidic ingredient - buttermilk, cultured milk, yogurt and whey, as well as lemon juice and vinegar, they activate the enzyme phytase, which works to break down phytic acid in the bran of grains. Sour milk products also provide lactic acid and lactobacilli that help break down complex starches, irritating tannins and difficult-to-digest proteins."

The baked goods made with soaked flours are also not as "heavy" as those that have not been soaked. Even flour milled from red wheat will be much lighter in color and lighter in texture after being soaked (at least 12-hours, but even better results are obtained with a 24-hours soak).

--Another option is to make naturally-leavened dough - it also alters the phytic acid. I made pizza dough with freshly-milled spelt (or wheat) flour, pinch of salt and milk kefir. Let it soak 12+ hours. I also made a kefir starter (kefir + wholegrain flour), and you can find instructions for both methods on-line. Because of the long fermentation, you get the same results as soaking.


    Bookmark   May 9, 2014 at 4:42PM
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No, no! I'm not adding bran. I've been reading and reading (and not having so much luck digesting Nourishing Traditions, so doing more 'net searches, etc.), and have come across those who think that the amount of bran in whole wheat flour is too high. I don't care to listen, however. :) Just trying to figure out where their issues fit in adds to the muddle. That's why I've stopped trying to figure out "right" and am just proceeding on the idea that my freshly milled is no worse than the King Arthur.

Thanks for the suggestions on adding fiber, however. I hadn't thought of it, but I can think of times I might want to do that, and I have both chia and flax seeds, and a seed mill (came bundled with the flour mill, though my old nut and spice mill does an okay job on seeds--without meaning to, I've become a multimill householder :) ). I think my cornstarch is just plain old cornstarch. :)

My KA wasn't as bad as road dust, but, as I said, I was struck by the difference! Agreed about the whole wheat haters, but I was already a whole wheat lover before I started this project. I always buy box of white matzah for those who want it at Seder, but we eat Yehuda whole wheat throughout the week of Passover for one very good reason--it tastes a whole heck of a lot better! The Trader Joe's whole wheat Tuscan Pane is fabulous, soft bread with tooth and flavor. The ingredients are whole wheat flour, water, sea salt, yeast. Real bread. :) We somehow accidentally got a loaf of the white, recently, and no one wanted it. It tastes like sugar. The "cardboard" flavor is something different from hard red wheat. Some of it is lack of salt, but having tasted fresh milled, I really think some of it is staling, or rancidness or something.

I have some red wheat "pastry flour" which is a finer grind which I was going to try for pasta, but haven't gotten to yet. I use 00 semolina. Is there any way to approximate that with home milling? (Even if it means a more expensive mill?) I do have some soft white wheat berries to try for baking sweets. I only do that for company, and only when they don't insist on bringing dessert. Otherwise, I make frozen sweets, and pies. I have a really good pie dough, which I think was originally KA, that makes a really nice, thin crust using AP red wheat flour.

Thanks for the cake flour recipe! I'm pretty sure I have some spelt, and it's easy to get, and I think I saw oat groats the other day.

The pizza recipes I've been working with all require soaking in the fridge, and a little acid. I've been using either ascorbic acid crystals or tomato juice. I don't want to be bound to dairy products, since I often bake parve (dairy free/meat free). How does vinegar affect the flavor in things like cakes? I know the vinegar trick for flaky pies, but I don't do sweet crust anyway. Is there any reason the ascorbic acid wouldn't do just as good a job?

I found a tip online to freeze the wheat berries...

    Bookmark   May 9, 2014 at 6:20PM
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Next dumb question: In the past, when I've had a dough that was too wet, I just kneaded in a little flour. This flour, obviously, wouldn't be soaked. How does that affect things? What else would you do to correct the texture?

First dough second pizza: I didn't rest the dough long this time--just long enough to get the toppings ready--but it was still too soft to lift. I was able to shift it to a pan without having to roll it up. It was very overloaded because I made broccolini with onions and mushrooms and had too much, so just piled it on. It rose beautifully, even on a pan! Perfect air pockets all the way through, including the middle, even with all that weight.

The finished crust is delicious and well risen, so I don't want to much with it too much, but it's still quite ... soft? and less toothsome than the King Arthur pizzas were. I don't want to lose the loft, which is perfect, but I'd like to make it just a bit stiffer.

Less water?

Coarser flour?

Any suggestions?

    Bookmark   May 9, 2014 at 11:23PM
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-Hi-maize is a high-fiber starch, but not the same as cornstarch. You can find more info. at King Arthur Flour - http://www.kingarthurflour.com/shop/items/hi-maize-fiber-12-oz
I use it in my gluten-free baked goods and morning smoothies, and purchase it in 5-pound bags from Honeyville Grain ($19.99 + shipping - $4.49 for your entire order).

-For semolina I milled durum wheat which is a high-protein grain that is high in gliadins, rather than glutenins (the opposite is true with hard wheat) - from the protein group (what we commonly call "gluten" - but it is actually a protein group) found in grain. I milled it in my Nutrimill on the coarse setting (the setting that is used for a fine-grind of cornmeal). Semolina is durum wheat with the bran and germ removed, and only the endosperm is milled into the coarse/gritty semolina flour, so I made a wholegrain version.

What I learned studying "pasta".... Use fine flour for noodles and use coarse semolina for pasta, and I milled durum wheat for both flour and a coarse grind like semolina. As an alternative, I also used Triticale which is a hybrid cross between durum wheat and rye. Kamut, is another good choice. It is the "granddaddy" of the durum wheat varieties. You can use almost any flour and make noodles/pasta, the "tooth" will be different, or cooking time may change.

Soft wheat (low-gluten) really isn't the best choice for pasta/noodles - use it for pastries, biscuits, cookies, cakes and muffins, although I'm sure you will get "pasta" using it. It will require less hydration due to the low-gluten content and it won't have the viscosity and extensibility that high-protein wheat (especially durum wheat) has.

You might be interested in this recipe for "Rustic, Soaked, Handkerchief Noodles". http://www.thenourishinggourmet.com/2009/02/rustic-soaked-handkerchief-noodles.html

-Vinegar (in pastry)- Every step of pastry making is geared towards preventing gluten development, yet you need enough developed to give it structure, but not so much it gets tough. Adding an acidic ingredient (vinegar) adds one more tenderizer to the mixture. Acids soften gluten and breaks apart the gluten strands which helps keep pastry tender. Using pastry flour (milled from soft wheat) is providing less gluten to start with (a good thing), which is why it's a better choice than all-purpose flour (which is a mixture of hard and soft wheat).

If you want to make a stronger crust, for something that would need to hold a hearty filling, use a pastry recipe that includes an egg. The protein in the egg reinforces the structure of the pastry.

You won't notice the flavor of vinegar in cake. I made this little snack cake occasionally, before going gluten-free:

1-1/2 c. soft white whole wheat flour
1 t. soda
1/2 t. salt
3 T. cocoa powder (can omit)
1 T. vinegar
2 t. vanilla
5 T. butter, melted (I used 4 T. coconut oil)
2/3 c. agave nectar (or coconut palm syrup)...

    Bookmark   May 10, 2014 at 7:15AM
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Thanks for all the additional information! I'm going to have to reread and organize when I'm more with it.

QUESTION: Do you have a rule of thumb for how much ascorbic acid per measure of flour or water or something? For yeast dough? I find it much more convenient than lemon juice, but the recipes I have that call for it say "pinch" without defining what their standard pinch is.

Thanks, too, for explaining the vinegar in pastry. That makes so much sense! For a lot of things, I use a crust that has strong gluten (which, in my own head, I call "leathery" because it's smooth and can be rolled very thin--it's not really tough, but tougher than a flaky crust). I do like flaky for a dessert pie, though recently I've been using a friend's food processor recipe, which is more of a cookie crust, or my whole wheat, which I've just learned how to make like my AP leathery crust. I only get flaky with half frozen butter and half vegetable shortening, and a pastry blender, but now that I understand what the vinegar does in the traditional recipe, I'm thinking it might help the FP one to be flakier. :)

    Bookmark   May 10, 2014 at 5:31PM
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pllog, I am late to your posts, but did want to through in my 2 cents. I sprout white whole wheat berries ( I did red, but didn't like the taste as much) . Once they are sprouted I put them in a convection oven at around 100 - 110 usually for a day to be sure they are dry. As grainlady says, air movement is important, and I have some perforated pans which is great for letting air get to the berries. I have ground them in a home mill with no problem, and used it in bread. I don't measure the absorbic acid, but a pinch - 1/8 tsp sounds about where i am for 400 grams of flour. I have seen a more specific recommendation of 20 - 30 mg per 100 grams of flour - but have never done any testing of any percentages. For whole wheat pizza, a lot depends on your taste preferences. My current recipe, which is a favorite of most of my friends is 60% whole white wheat and 40 % red whole wheat, it has an earthy taste, but not too earthy.

    Bookmark   May 10, 2014 at 8:52PM
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Nothing to do with sprouted grains but thought I would mention a recent discovery. I bought a sack of North Dakota Mills stone ground whole wheat flour....'high protein spring wheat'. Oh Wow...this flour is good...it has a bit of sweetness to it and a nutty flavor. To my taste, it is soooo much better than other WW flours that I've used which can be cardboard-ey and sometimes a bit bitter. The North Dakota Mills flour has a 'packaged on' date so you have an idea of how long it's been sitting on the shelf in the grocery store. (I don't have a mill but hoping that I'll turn one up at an estate or rummage sale one of these days.) From what I have read, spring wheat is higher in protein and is supposed to taste a bit sweet and nutty--so that could be a direction you might want to explore.

Pie pastry....I was reading somewhere recently about using half all purpose flour and half cake flour for pastry. I've tried it twice, making an all butter crust and have been very, very happy with the results. It has been a big improvement over using straight all purpose flour.....which has me wondering...Mom always used AP flour & sometimes lard, sometimes Crisco and her crusts were always perfect. She never fooled with resting the dough or chilling it. Her crusts never slumped down in the pan when she baked them for cream pies (and she never used pie weights, etc.) So something has to have changed in the last 40-50 years and I suspect that it's the flour, i.e., the wheat. (She mostly always used Gold Medal AP.) Anyway, thinking about it, I have almost convinced myself that it's the flour that's different. (I know that Crisco has changed but I haven't used shortening in several years--not since Crisco pie crusts started upsetting my stomach.)

One last thing....has anyone tried any of the Great River flour/ grain products (available from Amazon)? Good reviews generally....I'm especially interested in the 7-Grain flour at the link. But I'd love to hear of anyone's experience with any of Great River's products.

Here is a link that might be useful: Great River Organic Seven Grain Flour

    Bookmark   May 10, 2014 at 9:56PM
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Barryv and Ci_lantro, thanks so much for your comments!

I have perforated pans. I hadn't thought of that! And I could easily open the oven door a few times through the cycle to let out steam. Barry, you've given me incentive to try sprouting when it gets cold (if it ever does again--we had no Winter this year. My attempt at a starter started going moldy. I thought I could get away with it better than something actually in water, but it's just too warm). I'm inspired not only by your success in drying, but also in milling. I like flour. :) It's not that I couldn't soak and cook grains like beans. It's that I wouldn't have as much fun, and if it's not interesting and fun I won't bother. Thanks, too, for the info on the pinch. :) I'm learning to bake all over again for this.

I might try your mixed wheat for sharing. I know not everyone likes the hard red wheat. So far, the home milled is just fantastic! It has a much more delicate flavor.

Just to clarify, I haven't had the cardboard taste with my home baking, except a little hint of it from the end of the bag of flour. I've made all kinds of things from King Arthur whole wheat, both hard red Winter wheat and Spring wheat. They've all come out great, except my first try at WW pizza--which I actually think was a salt issue. It was poorly distributed and the dough from the end of the batch tasted a lot better than the beginning. The recipe called for sea salt, and I try to do recipes the way they're stated first time out. I used my salt grinder, but I think it was still too coarse, and maybe not spread out well enough. In general, I prefer to use iodized salt because I don't consume a lot of salt and I have enough thyroid issues without goiter!

First batch of home milled hard red Winter wheat, third pizza: Took the dough ball out after all the ingredients were prepped, and put it right on an oiled pan sprinkled with yellow cornmeal (from a box, sitting in a canister--what kind of corn does one make cornmeal from anyway? My mill will take dried sweet corn as well as popcorn, but doesn't even mention field corn, and only excludes very moist and oily things.). Topped with raw onion and mushrooms, cooked Italian chicken sausage, wild arugula and shaved parm. Similar weight to yesterday's broccolini, but less cheese. It didn't rise as much, and had a damper surface, and the bottom had a lot more tooth. I figure the last is in part the oil, and the former two might be because the veg were wetter, but I don't know.

Ci_lantro, it might well be the flour. More likely the lard. :) My mother grew up in the country where there were a lot more people who baked with lard than there were Jews, and she occasionally gets a prissy look on her face and bemoans the lack of lard in pastry too. :) I've never had a pie shell slump, and docking works as well as pie weights for me (though I have had the crust bubble off the plate if I don't do either). If you have...

    Bookmark   May 10, 2014 at 11:11PM
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I confess I didn't read through the replies so someone may have addressed this already.

Gluten is actually not present in wheat kernels. It forms when the kernels are crushed and mixed with moisture. Gluten forms from a chemical reaction between glutenin and gliadin, which are proteins in wheat kernels. When you sprout a kernel, these proteins are converted into completely different proteins in vegetative tissue.

    Bookmark   May 10, 2014 at 11:15PM
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--Pastry is a combination of tenderness and flakiness, and those are the baking characteristics you want to achieve when making it.

Pastry how to: Mix half of the fat into the flour until it is well incorporated. Add the remaining fat in much larger (pea-size) chunks and only add until distributed, leaving large pieces in the mixture. At this point, don't over-work the dough when adding the liquid.

The first addition of fat will tenderize because it coats the flour. Where fat coats the flour, water can't penetrate and the gluten forms in short strands (and is why it's also called "short crust" pastry). The large bits of fat creates flakiness. When the large pieces of fat heat in the oven it releases steam. The steam lifts the dough in layers and as it bakes creates flakiness.

Where does lard come in? Lard has a much larger fat crystal than shortening or butter, which makes it work and melt differently. Lard has always made a great fat to use for making pastry.


Instead of using iodized salt (I haven't used it since the late 70's), I use KELP granules for a low-sodium seasoning and as a food-form source for iodine (see link below), rather than the chemical form found in iodized salt. I also add other sea vegetables when cooking. You might want to save this as a study session at a later date.

--I was re-reading Sue Gregg's "Whole Grain Baking" book so I could pull some more information for you, and she uses the same three methods - soaking, fermenting, or sprouting the grain/flour before cooking or baking to neutralize a large portion of the phytic acid. She covers soaking, sprouting and sourdough methods. (suegregg.com)

As little as 7-hours will neutralize a large portion of the phytic acid in grains. Twelve to 24 hours even better, with 24 yielding the best results. She also mentions brown rice, buckwheat, and millet are more easily digested because they contain lower amounts of phytates than other grains, so 7-hours soaking is sufficient. Other grains, particularly oats, highest in phytates of the whole grains, are best soaked up to 24-hours.

Sue Gregg uses her whole grain bread dough for making pizza and blends 2 c. warm water, 2 T. apple cider vinegar and 4-6 cups whole wheat flour, spelt or Kamut and soaks for 12-24 hrs. for stage one.

In her book, "Whole Grain Baking" she gives instructions for sprouting grain and how to make sprouted whole grain dough (pages 154 and 155) and also uses this dough for her pizza crusts.

--Corn.... Corn comes in three varieties - dent (those fat nibs with a "dent" on the top), which is field and sweet corn), flint (Indian/calico corn) - which is a small grain with a very hard 'coat' - hard like flint and is how it got its name, and popping corn, which looks like flint corn.

All corn can be milled into cornmeal - even popcorn. The large nibs of dent corn are...

    Bookmark   May 11, 2014 at 7:03AM
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The kelp seasoning looks interesting. I don't have any qualms about iodized salt, but the kelp says it also has a lot of potassium, and I've been chasing orange juice with bananas for the potassium. :)

Your pastry how to is how I make my "good" crust. I guess a better name for my "leathery" crust would be long crust. :) I didn't know all the whys about the gluten. Just that it works. Interesting about the lard. Thanks for the explanations!

Your one sentence is the most concise and illuminating description of corn that I've ever seen! So, cornmeal is just the coarse endosperm, semolina (which basically means endosperm) is smaller, and corn grits (as opposed to hominy) are the finer siftings of the cornmeal. Then, mill the cornmeal to silken face powder fineness and you get the 00 flour I use for pasta. I'm pretty sure my mill won't do that, but it might be fun to try.

I'm also going to try some commercially sprouted wheat. Maybe compare it to my wheat and perhaps dry it in the oven just to be sure before milling--and that carefully, like for legumes. Because while I'm fine with the recipes that call for soaking in the fridge, I'm not so happy with doing it on the counter.

QUESTION: What do you do about soaking when the liquid in a recipe is milk? I'm not about to soak on the counter with milk. Just flour and water (and acid) bugs me because of the warmth of the room.

One thing I do like is that my mill seems efficient. I can weigh out the wheat before milling and I get the full measure back in flour. There doesn't seem to be much loss to the air, etc. Which I'm also glad of for safety's sake. There's a gas stove next to my baking area, not to mention the consequences of breathing superfine dust.

    Bookmark   May 11, 2014 at 3:59PM
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I can only think of one recipe where I've used milk for soaking, and it and the soaking grain is refrigerated (I do add whey to the recipe, however, to introduce an acid).

(source: "The Splendid Grain" by Rebecca Wood)
Makes about 15 pancakes.

2/3 c. oat groats
1/3 c. buckwheat groats, toasted
1-1/4 c. milk or soy milk [I use 1 c. milk and 1/4 c. whey or kefir]
3 lg. eggs
2 T. unsalted butter, melted
1/4 t. sea salt
2 T. Sucanat or light brown sugar [I use palm sugar.]
1 t. baking powder
1/2 t. grated nutmeg

Combine [but DO NOT blend] the oats, buckwheat and milk in a blender container. Cover and let soak refrigerated overnight or for 8-hours. [The next day, or after 8-hours] Blend until smooth. Add the remaining ingredients and process to combine. Preheat a griddle. Drop the batter by the ladleful onto the griddle and bake for about 2 minutes on each side, or until golden. Serve hot with the usual pancake accompaniments.

I use a cultured dairy product (kefir, whey, yogurt, buttermilk) or an acid (lemon juice or vinegar) \- and it is often, but not always, mixed with water when soaking at room temperature (and remember, "room temperature" is considered 70\-degrees F). You will have to make adjustments for cooler or warmer temperatures. I'll see if I can find some definitive information about optimal temperature. 

I would refrigerate something that is soaked in milk because milk is missing the cultures and bacteria necessary for fermenting at room temperature, and plain milk will sour and spoil without a culture. (A culture is essentially "good" bacteria. Spoiling or rotting milk is "bad" bacteria.) 

\-\-When I sprout seeds/grains/beans I use acidified water (1/2 t. ascorbic acid or citric acid (or even Fruit Fresh which is a mixture of the two acids) per quart of water \-\-\- lemon juice can be used, but it takes so much because it's not as effective as acid powders \- 1 c. lemon juice to 1 quart of water. I use the acidified water for soaking AND rinsing seeds/grains/beans to prevent bacteria growth. Seeds also sprout faster when soaked in acidified water, and aren't as prone to rotting. Ambient temperature and relative humidity is something you must consider when fermenting/soaking/sprouting. 

\-Extraction Rate (the amount of flour from grain). You are getting 100% extraction because the entire seed is being milled. When you mill 1\-pound of wheat you will get 1\-pound of flour. When a commercial mill removes the bran and the germ, they get a much smaller extraction rate. 

1 pound \= 3\-cups wheat berries and yields approximately 4\-cups of flour   
A rough approximation: a scant 2/3 c. wheat berries \= approximately 1\-cup flour 

\-Quinoa: 2/3 c. \= 1 c. flour   
\-Buckwheat: 1 c. groats \= 1 c. flour   
\-Millet: 3/4 c. \= 1 c. flour   
\-Rice: scant 3/4 c. short\-grain OR 3/4 c. long\-grain rice \= 1 c. flour   
\-Barley: 3/4 c. lightly...
    Bookmark   May 12, 2014 at 10:18AM
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Thanks, Grainlady. I think I was the one being unclear though, not you. :)

I've found a lot about soaking that includes soaking in dairy at room temperature, but even my attempts at flour and water starter are going moldy, so I'm not about to go near dairy spoilage. My kitchen, this time of year, is usually around 76ð F. Great for yeast--and mold! This is why I'm such a fiend about completely drying dishes before putting them away too--about the grossest thing to me, even worse than some forgotten thing rotting in the fridge, is moldy dishes. My problem with sprouting isn't the ambient temperature but growing mold before sprout. I having tried tripling the number of water changes, because I just can't do that.

And I was trying to say a similar thing about the cornmeal. That all the different products seem to just be differing textures of the endosperm. But then I started thinking about semolina (yes, from durum wheat) and conflated my sentences. I can type faster than I can think and I get in trouble like that sometimes. I meant to say that all of these coarser grinds, cornmeal, polenta, grits, and wheat semolina, are traditionally the endosperm. I'm still stuck on the push pull between wanting fresh, whole grain flour and wanting 00 semolina flour for pasta. :) And I made a whole muddled mess of that whole paragraph!

I think some of my experiments have taught me that soaking isn't for everything. I made some quick rolls which weren't so happy, and I think it's because they didn't want to be that well absorbed.

edit: typo

This post was edited by plllog on Mon, May 12, 14 at 17:27

    Bookmark   May 12, 2014 at 2:40PM
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Now, that makes sense.... ;-) I often have to give myself this advise - engage brain before moving fingers....(LOL)

I think the easiest method for making bread is by using the "Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day" method. BUT, I am not convinced the toxins are fully mitigated no matter what method you use (soaked flour, sprouted flour, naturally leavened - and I've tried all of them). When it comes to wheat, I feel strongly they aren't mitigated, especially after reading more at phyticacid.org and other sites today.

We can't control all phytates in our diet and some are actually beneficial. BUT, I would rather err on the side of trying to reduce the most toxins possible -- when possible -- and try to improve the nutrition as much as possible. That's why I make kefir with powdered milk (a less-than-perfect food storage staple) - as a way to improve the nutritional profile. The same goes for sprouting grains/seeds/beans.....

Another interesting tidbit I read at The Nourishing Home.com.... Sally Fallon came out with an update on soaking. Long term storage or freezing of wholegrain flours ends up breaking down and eventually destroying the phytase enzyme in flour. This is another reason to only use freshly-milled flour when using the soaking flour method. So if you are using "old" flour (especially commercially milled flour that was milled who knows when? - or was stored a long time in the refrigerator or freezer), be sure to add a freshly-milled flour high in phytase (rye, spelt, wheat, or buckwheat) when soaking it. When I make overnight oatmeal I always include some buckwheat due to the low level of phytase in oats.


    Bookmark   May 12, 2014 at 4:31PM
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I like making different kinds of breads. The pizza dough I've been working on is based on a recipe that's based on a recipe of Reinhart's. It's dead easy. I tried a different, low yeast, one that sounded good but turned out too sticky no matter what I did to it. The barley malt seems to be what was lacking in the first recipe, but the texture is different with the fresh ground flour, so on the one hand, it came out better, but on the other hand, it needs more work.

My mother's challah recipe is brioche style and not easy. The results are worth it. People say the same thing that Marie Antioinette's detractors said she said--it's cake. :) Very soft, very moist, full of eggs and saffron. It's okay with AP, better with Gold Medal better for bread. Not good with King Arthur bread flour. It's coarser, though from what I can find out, it has about the same amount of protein.

On my list after I get the pizza issue settled (before air conditioner season), is trying to approximate my challah with fresh milled white wheat.

I'm not so hot on the idea of keeping a big bucket of dough going in my fridge. It's fine for feeding a household, but I'd rather make different things and start from flour rather than a sponge. The last part is for the fun of it. Probably all those years of helping my mother measure out the flour. Milling the grain is fun and gives me my flour fix even if I'm soaking thereafter, so I might work up to the point of the never ending sponge, but I'm not there yet.

Given what you've said about flour going rancid so quickly, I'm thinking that if the whole grain flour doesn't work so well for challah, that I might be able to sift out a lot of the bran. Seems a shame, but it's meant as a treat, not staff of life. :)

    Bookmark   May 12, 2014 at 5:53PM
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Thanks for the 60:40 suggestion. I tried 60% hard white wheat in the latest batch of pizza dough, and it made a big difference! It's not the flavor---that was good with 100% hard red wheat--but just the way it handles is so much better. It might be the wheat itself, rather than that it's white, or the very low humidity we've been having, or something like that. I'll have to see if it holds true across many batches.

The 60:40 dough didn't get sticky as it hydrated. I still used a pan, but I think it might be fine without if it's not stretched too thin. It was also less fragile. That surprised me. Maybe I just didn't pick up on it, since I've been assimilating so many new facts, but I thought that hard white wheat was supposed to be similar to hard red wheat in terms of the length of the gluten strands and all. So I looked it up on The Fresh Loaf. I used wheat from a sampler pack which wasn't labeled for season, so maybe they were both Spring wheat, whereas I've been using Winter, and Spring is supposed to have hardier gluten. I can do without the big holes, if the rest of the dough handles this well.

The other good thing about it is that the flavor of the malt comes through better with the milder flavored wheat. I still may add a tad more malt, but the flavor of this current one is B+/A- whereas I'd mostly been making C+/B-. (That's setting C=good enough but not stellar, B=good, A=outstanding, not the grade inflation version of C being a miss.)

This batch also has a firmer crust. The sticky ones were coming out too soft to the tooth (i.e, inside--I don't have problems getting a firm outside). So, again, I'm guessing better gluten. Lightbulb! The first, very promising, batch, before I started milling, was mostly hard red Spring wheat, with a little Winter to make up the weight because I ran out. That settles it!

So now I have a big canister full of hard red Winter wheat to find other uses for. Maybe I'll buy a starter and make sourdough, since my efforts at home starter starting were going moldy.

Rats! I thought I'd post the recipe and looking at it, I realized that I probably forgot the ascorbic acid. I hope using it doesn't screw up the end product. Since this dough has to develop in the fridge for a full day, minimum, I have been making it up fully as my "soak".

This is based on an online recipe by Red Apple Guy, who adapted it from Peter Reinhart.

Whole Wheat Pizza

Mill flour:

  • 204 grams hard white wheat
  • 135 grams hard red wheat

Add to mixer bowl with:

  • 22 grams barley malt powder
  • Pinch or scant 1/8th tsp ascorbic acid
  • 7 grams dry salt (any kind)
  • scant 2 grams active dry yeast
  • 241 grams water
  • 22 grams olive oil (I use EVOO for the flavor, and it seems to be well enough shielded by the dough not to go weird at the high heat)

Mix with Danish dough whisk or flat wooden spoon and let rest for about five minutes. Knead with dough hook for about five minutes.

Transfer dough...

    Bookmark   May 17, 2014 at 3:40PM
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