Secrets of Soaking Whole Grains

December 12, 2016

Only recently have I heard about soaking our whole grains and why it is important.

Though this practice, along with fermentation, has been around for a long time! It has only been a few months now that I have been soaking or even fermenting some whole grains. Now, I do not really do any baking and so I am just going to share what I do with my oats, brown rice, and other simple whole grains I use to cook with. For more information on soaking your grains you can refer to Sally Fallons book ‘Nourishing Traditions’.

Soaking is actually quite simple, the key is to plan ahead.

Since soaking your grains can take up to 24 hours and even longer if you are fermenting. Seeds, nuts, and grains all have a protective coating on them that prevents them from sprouting. Phytates, (whose role is to prevent premature sprouting) found in the bran part of the whole grain binds to phytic acid and phosphorous. When we eat foods containing phytates, the minerals are simply not bio-available and pass right through our bodies. thus, voiding the nutrients that these grains could provide. By beginning the sprouting process, it makes these grains more easily digestible and helps your system obtain all the nutrients from your food.

Phytic acid binds with important minerals such as iron, calcium, magnesium, copper and zinc, blocking their absorption in the intestinal tract. Consuming too much phytic acid can cause mineral deficiencies.

Our digestion depends on enzymes to help break down food. When we are consuming whole grains and think it is much better for us than refined or processed grains (which it is) we may not realize that these whole grains contain enzyme inhibitors. These enzyme inhibitors interfere with normal digestion and can also stress out the pancreas.

Phytase is an enzyme that will help in the process of breaking down phytic acid.

To activate the phytase in grains, these 4 conditions are required:

  • moisture
  • slightly acidic environment
  • warmth
  • time

Now, it is also important to be aware of high phytase grains and low phytase grains. Those grains which do not contain much phytase naturally may require the addition of a grain which contains more phytase. For example, I tend to have oats soaking daily for my breakfast in the morning. Oats though, contain very little phytase and so I tend to add two tablespoons of buckwheat flour during the soaking process in order to provide the phytase needed to help break down the phytic acid.

Examples of High Phytase Grains: 

  • Wheat
  • Rye
  • Buckwheat

Examples of Low Phytase Grains: 

  • Rice
  • Corn
  • Oats
  • Millet

How-to: 

To soak your whole grains, begin by using water warmer than room temperature (100-110 degrees). I usually add two cups of water to every one cup of grains. if necessary you can strain the grains when the soaking process is finished. Next you want to choose some type of acidic medium, (such as apple cider vinegar, or lemon juice) 1-2 tbs per cup of grains. If you are working with a grain which is low in phytase, now is a good time to also add 2 tbs of a high phytase grain flour. Once you have mixed these ingredients together, it is time to set it aside and let the magic happen. Be sure to keep this mixture at room temperature or higher. Depending on the grain 12 – 24 hours is ample time for the phytic acid to break down.

You are now ready to continue with cooking this grain, or in some cases dehydrating it for later use.

I hope you enjoy the science behind this process and your belly enjoys it too!

 

About the Author

Caleigh Anne Clark

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