by Cat, June 2008 (Photo, right, from Wikimedia Commons)
Sprouting, or at least soaking all seeds (grains, legumes, nuts and fruit/vegetable seeds) before cooking them is the most nutritious way to consume them. You can also sprout them to eat most of them as sprouts. Some of my favorites are sprouted sunflower seeds, and sprouted almonds.
- See also: 1. Grains, Flours & Starches Menu; 2. Whole Foods (About) menu; 3. Soaking & sprouting grains; 4. Soaking & Sprouting Beans and other Legumes; 5. Nuts & Seeds: Soaking and Sprouting; Other sites: 1. Precision Nutrition: All About Lectins (8); 2. Yogitrition: Soaking Grains, Beans, Nuts and Seeds 101 (9); 3. Mercola: Reduce lectins in your diet (10)
- Includes: 1. Why soak or sprout; 2. Sprouting seeds for eating: in a jar, or in a hemp bag; 3. Soaking or sprouting grains for porridge
Why Soak or Sprout?
Soaking any seed begins the processes of germination and fermentation, which have major benefits for the human diet:
- Makes their minerals more available for absorption (by unlocking them from phytic acid). This includes not only the minerals in the grain, but other dietary minerals as well.
- Breaks down the starches into shorter-chain vegetable starches and sugars;
- Breaks down some of the proteins into peptides and amino acids;
- Forms new proteins, vitamins, and other active components of the living plant.
But perhaps the most important benefit of sprouting is that turns the grain, legume, nut or seed into a vegetable! This is important if you believe in food combining, which cautions against consuming grains and legumes with animal protein (the combination is very acid-forming). If the grain or legume is sprouted, it is considered an alkalizing vegetable, and is only slightly acid forming when combined with animal protein. (Refer to my articles on Food Combining and Acid Balancing, in the Diet & Health section of my main website for more).
For more information
- Rebuild From Depression website and Whole Health Source, on Soaking, Germinating Grains for more on the subject of sprouting. You can either soak/sprout the grains before grinding into flour, or soak the flour after grinding. Both methods are described below.
- Living and Raw Foods on Sprouting for lots of good information.
- My article Working with Grains, Legumes, Nuts and Seeds (in the Diet & Health section of my main website).
Sprouting Seeds for Eating
All seeds can be sprouted for eating or for making flour. This includes grain berries, legumes, nuts and seeds. Apart from grains, you’ll have the most success with adzuki or mung beans, garbanzos (chick peas), red or green lentils, fenugreek, pumpkin, hulled sunflower, millet, and quinoa. I find sprouted lentils and garbanzos quite tasty.
(NOTE: some seeds will mold easily and require special equipment and precautions. These include: Broccoli, clover, mustard, garlic, onion and radish. Alfalfa also falls into this group, but it is not recommended to eat sprouted alfalfa seeds because they contain a toxic substance known as canavanine, if eaten in quantity.)
You can eat your sprouts raw, but don’t overdo it; raw sprouts contain digestive irritants to keep animals from eating the young sprouts (per Nourishing Traditions (1)). It is best to steam them lightly, or add to hot dishes such as soups.
There are two methods for sprouting: in a jar, or in a hemp bag, as described below. Note that I use the term “seeds” for grain berries/groats, legumes and seeds.
Sprouting in a jar
To sprout for eating, you can use the same method as for flour (see below), or you can sprout in a jar fitted with a screen in place of a lid. A wide-mouth mason jar works great for this; use the jar ring to hold the screen in place. You can either use window screen, or an old nylon stocking.
- Fill jar 1/3 full with seeds (they increase in volume as they soak in the water). Add filtered water to the top of jar and screw on the top with its screen insert.
- Allow berries to soak overnight, then pour off the water. Rinse berries well, right in the jar without removing the top. Invert jar and let it sit at an angle so it can drain, and to allow air to circulate.
- Rinse every few hours, or at least twice a day (3 – 4 times a day is best). Sprouts will be ready in 1 – 4 days, depending on type of grain and how much of a tail you like.
- Rinse well, shake out excess moisture, and replace screen insert with the solid section of the lid, to store in refrigerator.
Sprouting in a Hemp Bag
You will need a bowl, colander and hemp bags for sprouting (hemp is better than cotton because it resists mold); and a jar or Evert-Fresh bag for storage.
- Place 1/2 cup seeds in a bowl. Add 2 -3 times as much cool water; mix to assure all berries are moistened. Soak for 8 – 12 hours (overnight is best).
- Empty berries and water into hemp bag (water drains out of the bag). Rinse thoroughly with cool water. Set bag in a colander over a shallow bowl, out of direct sunlight and at room temperature, between rinses. Never let the bag rest in the drained water.
- Rinse and allow to drain every 8 – 12 hours (2 or 3 times a day). Sprouts will be ready in 1 – 4 days, depending on type of grain and how much of a tail you like. Usually ready after three rinsings. It is advised to taste after each rinse, to determine when they are ready to your preference.
- Drain thoroughly after final rinse. Then store in a covered glass jar or Evert-Fresh bags in the refrigerator.
Soaking/Sprouting Whole Groats for Porridge
Soaking grain groats for porridge
See also Soaking & sprouting grains.
- Place whole grain such as oatmeal, multi-grain cereals, couscous, and bulgur in a bowl.
- If using oatmeal, put wheat berries in your spice grinder and grind coarsely, then add to the oatmeal/water mixture. Oats are low in phytase enzyme, so need the enzyme boost from the wheat. You need about 10% of the total grain to be wheat; thus for 1 cup of oatmeal, you need about 1 1/2 Tbsp wheat berries.
- Measure an amount of warm water (about 113-1310 F) equal to the amount of grain (cup for cup); add acidic medium such as yogurt, buttermilk, liquid whey, or lemon juice, about 2 Tbsp per cup of grain. Pour over the grain and stir it a bit.
- Cover with a cotton cloth (to keep bugs out) and soak in a warm place at least 2 hours (overnight is best). If you soak them for 24 hours, they will ferment slightly, for a delicious flavor, and even more nutrition! (fermentation produces new proteins (as enzymes), and more vitamins.
Sprouting groats for porridge
- Use a jar or hemp bag and follow appropriate steps for jar or hemp bag method above. Rinse after 24 hour soak, then rinse at least 2 times a day until the tiny sprout tail appears on most of the groats.
The hull issue:
All grains will sprout with the hull intact, but not all are pleasant to eat with the hull intact. This is not such a problem for pseudo grains, but can be a significant problem for true grains (oat, barley, rye and the wheat family). Thus people look for grains that will sprout without a hull, and this has led to debate about what will and will not sprout, because of the misuse of confusing terms (6, 7). Therefore, I will clarify terms and sprout ability as follows:
- ‘De-hulled’ means the grain had a hull that was removed. If the hull is relatively soft, as with wheat, it is easily removed during harvest, and usually does not take the germ with it, so that the wheat berry will sprout.
- ‘Hulled’ means the grain’s hull has been removed (same as de-hulled), but is often misinterpreted as ‘with hull.’ If the germ is removed during the process to remove the hull, the seed will not sprout.
- ‘Hull-less’ means the grain is grown without a hull (never had one to remove), and will sprout. However, this term may be misinterpreted to mean de-hulled (hull removed).
- ‘With hull’ means the original grain, with a hull. These will sprout; however, for some grains like oat and barley, the hull is tough and abrasive and not enjoyable to eat. It grows great grass, but is not so great as a sprout. If you want to eat the sprouts of oat and barley, buy hull-less groats.
Buckwheat is not a true grain, and it has a hull. However, I do believe its hull is fairly soft and easily removed without damaging the germ, so the groat (hull removed) can be sprouted.
If you have a grain that cannot be sprouted, you can still make a healthful porridge by soaking the grain in acidic water overnight (see above). While it doesn’t sprout, it still undergoes some of the biochemical changes that make the grain more nutritious. Follow this with a long cooking time, and your porridge will be almost as nutritious as when made from sprouted grain.
- Nourishing Traditions, by Sally Fallon and Mary G. Enig
- Creating Heaven website (http://www.creatingheaven.net/eeproducts/eesfc/)
- Rebuild From Depression website (http://www.rebuild-from-depression.com/simplechange/simplechange/grains-legumes-nuts-seeds.html)
- Hipppocrates Institute and Hippocrates Greenhouse websites (www.hippocratesinst.org & www.hippocratesgreenhouse.com)
- Living & Raw Foods: www.living-foods.com/articles/sprouting.html
- Precision Nutrition: All About Lectins (precisionnutrition.com/all-about-lectins😉
- Yogitrition: Soaking Grains, Beans, Nuts and Seeds 101 (yogitrition.com/soaking-grains-beans-nuts-and-seeds-101)
- Mercola, Reduce lectins in your diet (articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2017/08/14/reduce-lectins-in-your-diet.aspx)