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Sprouting Grains and Legumes increases their vitamin, enzyme, and antioxidant content as well as making them more digestible; they are less likely to cause gastrointestinal discomfort and the nutrients in them are more easily absorbed. Sprouted grains and legumes are LIVING food (like raw fruits and vegetables), which is supposed to make up 50% of our diet! Here are some recipes you’ll love that will make integrating sprouted grains and legumes in your diet a lot easier than you think!
Zesty Refried Beans (use sprouted & cooked black or pinto beans instead of merely soaked & cooked beans)
If you want to sprout rice or beans for added nutrition, follow the instructions for “Rice and Legumes” below.
If you want to sprout wheat berries, barley, rye, or other traditional bread-grains, follow the “How to Sprout Wheat Berries” instructions following.
HOW TO SPROUT WHEAT BERRIES (AND OTHER GRAINS*):
My local health food store carries wheat berries. I get the Bob’s Red Mill kind: It sells in the store for less than $3 for 4 cups. It’s possible your local grocery store may have them if they carry that brand of product. (*Make sure if you buy grains to sprout that they have not been degerminated or “pearled”: pearled barley, for example, will not sprout.)
To soak wheat berries you need a large jar (quart size or larger), a canning ring, a mesh, and a bowl or other large container to prop the jar at a downward angle. My local Meijer carries some canning equipment. Your local health food store may sell a sprouting jar, but it is cheaper to make your own. I use an old 3lb honey jar, an old canning ring, and for the mesh I snipped a square of the wrapper I bought my garlic in (I’ve used cheesecloth before too…anything that will let water out but keep the wheat berries in)! I use a tall, large, rectangular Tupperware tub to prop the jar.
STEP ONE: ASSEMBLE. Put 1 cup wheat berries into the jar, put mesh over jar opening, and secure mesh with canning ring.
STEP TWO: RINSE. Fill with cool water and slosh berries around in it to rinse. Empty water out of jar through the mesh screen.
STEP THREE: SOAK. Refill with water to soak the berries for 8-12 hours (overnight) in cool or room temp water (not too hot or cold). When soaking is finished, empty water out of jar through the mesh screen. PLACE JAR AT A DOWNWARD ANGLE IN A LARGER CONTAINER SO THAT THE WHEAT BERRIES MAY DRAIN WITHOUT COVERING MORE THAN HALF THE SCREEN (allows air in the jar to prevent molding).
STEP FOUR: RINSE REGULARLY. Rinse the berries every 8-12 hours to keep moist by repeating step two. Place jar at downward angle in the container each time. Examine sprout growth each time: if the sprouts are 1/4″ long, do not rinse again.
This is a remarkably simple process and it only takes about 32 hours to complete: if you rinse and soak the berries before bed on day 1, day 2 can be spent growing; the sprouts will be long enough before bed on day 2 so they won’t require another rinse. When you wake up on day 3, you can process them.
HOW TO PROCESS SPROUTED WHEAT BERRIES FOR BAKING: Blend the wheat berries with an S-shape blade until the dough forms a clump. You may have to chill the blender for a minute or two periodically if it requires a short pulse due to overheating. *IMPORTANT* The wheat berries need to be completely pulverized into a dough-like paste, otherwise they will leave crunchy “bits” in your cake. It is better to use a smaller blender or food processor than a larger one, or the wheat berries will escape from the blades by sticking to the sides. Adding the liquid ingredients to half-processed wheat berries won’t help, either. They must be completely blended to a dough-like consistency before adding the other ingredients. If you don’t have an S blade, you can add the wheat berries in portions to a regular blender to make sure there are no “bits” left.
HOW TO SPROUT RICE & LEGUMES (Lentils and Beans)
Legumes are sprouted in a similar manner to grains; they take longer to sprout (lentils will sprout in 2-3 days, beans in 3-4 days or more) and since they are larger, they require more space and increased drainage/ventilation. Using a sink-width metal-mesh colander ($5 at ALDI) makes sprouting an entire bag of dry legumes much easier. You can freeze sprouted lentils to add to soups and other cooked dishes at a later date; sprouted rice can be frozen and simmered in chicken stock later; sprouted beans need to be cooked but should take less time to do so than un-sprouted beans. Do not try to sprout legumes that have been split or hulled/skinned; only whole legumes will generate sprouts.
- Rinse, sort, and soak one to two bags (up to 2lbs) of rice or dry legumes; for lentils, soak 12 hours; for beans, soak 24 hours. (For more detailed instructions, check out the STEP FOUR Transformation Tuesdays post).
- Rinse and spread the beans across a colander placed over a baking dish (to catch the drips); make sure to stack the legumes so they don’t all gather at the bottom. This way the air can flow freely between the legumes and you won’t have to worry about mold or mildew.
- Rinse the legumes in the colander every twelve hours and empty the baking dish whenever water accumulates (I usually do it a few minutes after rinsing, so every 12 hours or so). Make sure the legumes aren’t sitting in water.
- Process the legumes once the sprouts have reached 1/4″ in length; lentils and rice do not need to be cooked and can be stored in 1 cup portions in sandwich bags in a freezer bag in the freezer; sprouted beans can be cooked in a slow cooker in water or chicken broth in about 6-8 hours (or less). (For more detailed cooking instructions, check out the STEP FOUR Transformation Tuesdays post).
Have any sprouting questions or information you’d like to share? Feel free to post your sprouting comments below!