Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Soaking, Sprouting and Fermenting

It was less than a year ago that our diet was the typical American diet with way too many processed foods. Now, we have very few processed foods, but that does not mean that we have achieved our health goals.

I would like to introduce you to the guy who got my family changing their dietary ways. I found Underground Wellness while playing on YouTube one day. I don't advocate people seeking health advice on YouTube, but that doesn't mean that everything on YouTube is quackery. Sean Croxton, the guy behind Underground Wellness, knows his stuff. He is a nutritionist and fitness trainer.

He has a BlogTakRadio show as well. I love his BlogTalkRadio show. For some reason, it puts all my kids to sleep! So, I have it playing as background noise a lot. He has interviewed many other wellness experts on his show including Sally Fallon, David Getoff, and Paul Chek. It has opened up a new world for me.

Back to my health journey; there are many steps in a journey and right now I am working on fermenting and sprouting grains and vegetables. I have fermented grains in the past, but somehow got away from it, so I have been making a conscious effort to do it again. So grain fermentation is step one.

To some readers, this is going to be radical information. Other readers may not believe me or call this bogus science. Still other readers may have been wondering when or if I was going to get around to this.

I am going to explain the science in the best way I can, and then give you a reference to someone who has explained it better than I have.

Think of other animals that eat grains. If you look at their anatomy, they have more stomachs, up to four, and longer intestinal tracks. They are better able to digest grains fully. Fermenting grains, also called soaking grains, is basically a predigestion process for humans.

Why is predigestion necessary?
Whole grains have antinutrients that can bind with nutrients you need and block their absorption. These antinutrients are part of the shell of the grain, and they protect the grain from sprouting before it is ready. When whole grain flour is milled, the every part of the grain is milled together. This is good, as you get more nutrients overall, but it means we need to take extra steps to make sure we are digesting the grains properly. Fermenting, or soaking, breaks down these antinutrients so that the grains don't interfere with nutrients from other food.

How do you ferment grains?
Basically, mix the grains, for me flour and oatmeal, and liquids in a recipe together the night before you need it with either whey, cider vinegar or yogurt. I use whey, which is a by-product of making ricotta cheese and cream cheese, so it does not effect the final cost. I found my fermented pasta recipe here, and my fermented tortilla recipe here. I have tried and loved both recipes, but I changed the proportions to make smaller batches.

Does it taste different?
I've been making sourdough bread, so it tastes different, but my pasta and tortillas taste the same. You don't have to make sourdough bread to make a soaked grain bread, it's just what I am doing. I'll be posting about my sourdough bread, and about making your own sourdough starter.

I don't get it. Where's the source that explains it properly? Be Kind to Your Grains


LobotoME said...

great post (and youtube link) - thanks for sharing! jenny

Ms. Lilly said...

Thanks for this information. I haven't done anything like this with grains in spite of some friends who swear by it. And honestly? Because I'm just starting out with making our bread, tortillas, and pasta from scratch (well, technically I haven't tried the pasta yet), I probably won't try it for a while. I will bookmark this page though; it has a ton of useful information. ~ The Early Modern Mom

Hopewell said...

You may want to ask your library to find a copy of "Nourising Traditions" [link below] or the Sue Gregg cookbooks--she has some free recipes on her site. Here are links to both:

Emily said...

Ms Lilly, one step at a time is the way to go, and making regular grain products at home is a big step.

Hopewell, I recently got Nourishing Traditions and love it. Thanks for the Sue Gregg link.

Jen said...

I love Kimi's and Wardeh's sites! I started down the traditional food journey about a year ago, though I began researching it many months earlier, when I stumbled upon the WAPF site while researching vaccinations.

We eat homemade sourdough bread exclusively now, but it sure did take a while to get it right. Now I'm trying to increase my lacto fermentation efforts. Haven't gotten to sprouting yet. It's a process!

I recently started making kombucha, and we love it as a replacement for soda. It's so cheap to make, and so good for you too.

Good luck with your transition, Emily.

lexie said...


Thanks for being such a wealth of knowledge. You are so much more motivated than me. After I had my son, I did not have much energy for anything except surviving.

This is an interesting topic. I had a friend who would do this. Thanks everyone for the information.

Ginger said...

In case you haven't visited this blog yet, here is a great one full of recipes based on the concepts in Nourishing Traditions:

Ami said...

Emily, you need to be careful about Kombucha, especially while nursing or pregnant. It is a good detoxer, and has the ability to pull mercury out of your body. So if you've ever had or have amalgam fillings, be really careful. Fallon talks about it in NT too.

Adrienne S. said...

I can't wait to see your sourdough starter recipe. I've tried so many different ones and so far none have worked out for me. It always starts off great, then it just flops and stops rising? It's such a terrible waste of flour when it doesn't work out.

Devon said...

I've never heard of I'm not 'crunchy' by any stretch of anyone's imagination. I should be more. I'm interested in the sourdough starter as well--I LOVE sourdough. And be proud of me--I got my whole wheat flour yesterday and am planning on making up my loaves here soon. Fortunately we have been eating whole wheat for so long now DH is cool with

Anonymous said...

Another way to make sure that the flour is well fermented is to let it rise slowly overnight.

This works well with a sourdough starter, or with beer yeast which is a slightly different strain that is bred to work slower and at lower temps. if you want to use beer yeast, you simply mix a thin batter of rye flour using a cup or two of flour and some water. When your yeast starts to run low, just make more rye batter and add a cup of the old batch. The rye flour keeps the starter from tasting sour.

Anyway, back to the bread. Mix up your bread as you would normally, water, flour and a bit of salt, and add a quarter cup of the starter for every 3 cups of flour. Obviously, this means you'll use slightly less water. Knead it, and then leave it overnight in a covered bowl. 8-12 hours later, punch it down, shape the loaves, let rise again and bake. The other advantage to this method is that the bread keeps much better, so its practical to have a weekly baking day.

Simple in France said...

Emily, wow, I've been working on my sourdough technique for a couple of months because I like it and because I didn't want to pay for manufactured yeast--it seemed simpler, sounder and tastier to grow my own. I had no idea that it was actually better for you! But I guess that makes sense. . .the bacteria/yeast break down the grains the way the bacteria in yogurt breaks down the yeast??? Maybe???

Also, I can't wait to start my own yogurts etc. DH and I are serious cheese eaters. I even saw a 'how to' online for how to make Frenchie cheeses like camembert and brie, but that's REALLY ambitious. I'm not there yet at all. . . first for the pasta.

Olivia said...

I learn something new every time I visit your blog Emily! I can't say that about 90% of the blogs I read. I guess that's why I keep coming back to yours ;)

Great post! I may try this out!

Tammy said...

Another really good web site about health and nutrition is Dr. Mercola's. (You can google him.) When I'm wondering about something, like recently about our dentist wanting to put sealants on our kids' teeth, I check to see his insight on the matter. VERY good information. Check it out.

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