Soaking Whole Grains

Switching from refined grains to whole grains is definitely a step in the healthy direction. However, did you know that you might not be getting all the nutrients that you should be from your whole grains?
Without first properly preparing your whole grains, you will rob yourself of many nutrients.

Phosphorus in the bran of whole grains is tied up in a substance called phytic acid. Phytic acid combines with iron, calcium, magnesium, copper and zinc in the intestinal tract, clocking their absorption. Whole grains also contain enzyme inhibitors that can interfere with digestion. Traditional societies usually soak or ferment their grains before eating them, processes that neutralize phytates and enzyme inhibitors and in effect, predigest grains so that all their nutrients are more available. Sprouting, overnight soaking, and old-fashioned sour leavening can accomplish this important predigestive process in our own kitchens. Many people who are allergic to grains will tolerate them well when they are prepared according to these procedures. Nourishing Traditions, Sally Fallon, Pg 25

Did you get that? Phytic acid will prevent the absorption of many nutrients in whole grains, unless you first soak, sprout, or ferment your whole grains.

Today, we are focusing on soaking.

Why soak?
Soaking will help neutralize the phytic acid thus allowing nutrients to be properly absorbed. As an added bonus, soaking will also expand the grains resulting in more quantity. Soaking also makes for lighter/not as dense whole grain products.

What should you soak?
Oats, whole grain flours, brown rice, buckwheat, quinoa, millet. Basically if it’s a whole grain/hasn’t been processed then it should be soaked.

How long should you soak?
This depends on the whole grain as some have less phytate content. General time amounts are as follows:

Brown rice, buckwheat, millet – the lowest on the phytate content – 7 hours
Oats – highest phytate content – 24 hours
All other grains – 12 – 24 hours

What to soak with?
Warm water/liquids
Acidic medium

What are acidic mediums?
Acidic mediums are what will help neutralize the phytic acid. Acidic mediums include: cultured buttermilk, milk kefir, coconut kefir, cultured yogurt, whey, lemon juice or vinegar. Note: dairy products need to be cultured.

Where to soak?
Soak at room temperature on your counter. Also make sure that you cover what you are soaking. Soaking can be done in a rice cooker, pot, bread machine, or bowl.

How to soak:
Oats – Soak in half the amount of water called for in recipe along with 1 tbs acidic medium per cup of water. Soak for 24 hours. When you are ready to cook, boil the remaining half of water and then add the soaked grain. Should be ready in 5 minutes.

Quick Breads – Quick breads would be waffles, pancakes, muffins and so forth. Simply add 1 tbs acidic medium for every cup of water in the recipe. Mix as normal and soak 12-24 hours. If you happen to be making a recipe that calls for buttermilk, kefir, yogurt already simply soak the recipe as is, as you will already have your acidic medium.

Yeast Breads – Soak the flour, 1 tbs. acidic medium for every cup of water in the recipe. (However, leave out ½ cup of water for activating the yeast later) also add any oil and sweeteners. (You are soaking flour, acidic medium, water minus ½ cup, oils and sweeteners (if there are any). Cover and let soak 12- 24 hours. After soaking is completed, activate the yeast in the remaining water along with 1 tsp of honey. Then proceed to add your activated yeast to the soaked dough along with any remaining ingredients and finish baking as normal.

Brown Rice – Combine rice with your usual amount of water. Add 1-2 tbs acidic medium per cup of water. Soak for 7 hours. This is best done in the pot you will be cooking your rice in as you can then just cook as normal once the soaking process is finished.

Use 1 tbs acidic medium per 1 cup of water in recipe. Soak 12-24 hours. (unless brown rice) at room temperature.