How to Sprout Grains
- Jenny McGruther
(and make sprouted grain flour)
Sprouted Grain Flour
Sprouted grain flour is a staple in my kitchen. I make it from
time to time, in bulk, and freeze it for use in sweet things like
sprouted grain cookies, or in sprouted bread with milk
and honey. Sprouting sweetens grains naturally, and the process
also helps to mitigate the effects of anti-nutrients like phytic
acid which are found in whole grains. It releases a bit of the
plant, one that's imprisoned in the grain's tough layer of bran.
When the conditions are right - moist and slightly acidic - the
little plant begins to emerge, if only slightly. It's a beautiful
transformation, the release of life from something so small and so
Why Sprouted Grain Flour
All whole grains (and beans, seeds and nuts) promise an array of
vitamins, minerals and dietary fiber which is why health authorities
(rightly, or wrongly, you might think) emphasize them as a source
of good health. And, despite all the emphasis on whole-grain this
and whole-grain that, what they fail to emphasize is that these
whole grains are also a source of anti-nutrients - substances that
actually prevent you from fully absorbing the nutrients whole grains
contain. Listen closely now: you might eat as many whole grains
as you like, but without proper preparation to mitigate the effect
of these anti-nutrients, you are not reaping the rewards you should.
Grains want tender, long and thoughtful cooking. This means grains
need to be treated first to release their full array of nutrients
to your body. Soaking, sprouting and souring accomplish that goal
which is also why I emphasize sourdough baking at Nourished Kitchen.
Now, sprouting won't remove all of the anti-nutrients in the grain
- but it has some effect. To remove them all, you need to mill the
grains and extract all the bran, but sprouting does accomplish quite
a bit not only to release the existing minerals from the grain, but
to improve its complement of vitamins and protein.
Which grains can I sprout?
You can sprout any grain, provided you're working from the whole
grain berry, not a rolled, flaked or otherwise damaged grain. Wheat,
spelt, oats, barley and einkorn all work well for sprouting. Oats
are a high-fat grain, and are often treated with steam or heat and
dried prior to packing and distribution, so if you wish to sprout
oats, take care to purchase untreated oat groats intended specifically
Where to Find Grains for Sprouting
In most cases you'll be able to purchase whole grain berries at
your local health food store in the bulk bins. Common grains like
spelt, wheat and rye are available at even the smallest stores;
however, untreated oats for sprouting and einkorn berries are less
commonly available. For my family, I purchase both einkorn berries
and sprouting oats online.
Common Grains (Spelt, Rye, Wheat, Rice): Check your local health
food store's bulk bins, or inquire at your buying club.
Einkorn Berries: Are not widely available yet; however, you can
purchase them online at affordable rates on often receive free
shipping (see sources).
Untreated Sprouting Oats: Are not widely available yet, as most
oats on the market have been heat-treated due to the volatile nature
of their oils. I purchase organic sprouting oats online.
Sprouting Grains for Flour
When sprouting grains to make sprouted grain flour, you must be
mindful of the time it takes to sprout while not allowing your
sprouts to grow too large. Certainly, once that little speck of a
root appears at the end of the grain, it's tempting to let it
continue growing. Yet, by allowing the sprout to continue to grow,
you run the risk of malting the grains. Malt, in small amounts,
adds great depth of flavor to baked goods; however, when used
exclusively or in large amounts it will produce an overly sweet,
gooey bread that never cooks through. In using sprouted grains for
flour, be mindful to begin dehydrating the grains shortly after the
root tip appears.
Sprouted grains should also be dried at a relatively low temperature
in a dehydrator; just as allowing the sprout to grow too long can
fundamentally change the way the flour performs, so too can drying
it at a high temperature. An oven doesn't work well as a substitute
for a dehydrator in this instance.
Equipment You'll Need for Making Sprouted Grain Flour
I live in a very small, modest home with a surprisingly tiny, equally
modest kitchen - about 40 square feet. I do not like to clutter
what little space I enjoy with too many appliances and kitchen
gadgets; however, there's a few items I find to be absolute necessities
for sprouted flour making. Fortunately, they all serve multiple
- The Insert of My Slowcooker: I soak my grains in the insert of my
slowcooker, though any large mixing bowl will work well. I use
- Fine-mesh Sieve: I use a fine-mesh sieve that fits over the sink
for rinsing and aerating the grains as they sprout. This is the
sieve I use. Fitting it over the sink saves much-needed counter
space, and also allows the water to run cleanly through the grains,
minimizing clean up.
- Dehydrator: To prevent sprouted grains from roasting in the oven
at too high a temperature, I dry them in a food dehydrator. I have
a 9-tray dehydrator that I also use to preserve the summer and
autumn harvest, to help bread rise and to keep a constant temperature
for yogurt making. I also make sure to use Paraflexx sheets which
keep the grains from slipping through the holes in the dehydrator's
- Grain Grinder: When I first began grinding my own grains for flour,
I used a Nutrimill; however, early this year it stopped working,
and I purchased a Komo Grain Grinder and Grain Flaker which is
blessedly quiet and doesn't heat the flour during grinding. There
are many grain grinders, electric and manual, in a variety of price
ranges. You can check out this resource to determine which meets
your needs the best.
Where to Find Sprouted Grain Flour
If you haven't the interest or time to sprout your own grains for
sprouted grain flour, you can also purchase sprouted grain flour
online (you can find it here), as well as in some large health food
stores. For many people who have neither the time, space or desire
to make their own sprouted grains and flours, purchasing organic
sprouted flour is often the best option.
SPROUTED GRAIN FLOUR
Sprouted grain flour is rich in nutrients, particularly B vitamins
like folate. You can substitute it at 1:1 ratio for any whole grain
flour, and is particularly good in baked goods, cookies and breads.
- 1 pound whole grain (such as rice, wheat berries, einkorn berries, spelt berries etc.)
- 1 tablespoon vinegar
Pour the grains into a large mixing bowl, and cover with warm water
by 2 inches. Stir in the vinegar, cover the bowl, and set it on the
counter. Let the grains soak, undisturbed, for 18 to 24 hours, then
drain the grains and rinse them well.
Pour the grains into an over-the-sink fine-mesh sieve
and rinse them under flowing water. Stir the grains with your
hands. Twice a day for 2 to 3 days, continue rinsing and stirring
the grains, a tiny, cream-colored sprout emerges at the end of the
Transfer the grains to dehydrator trays lined with a non-stick
sheets. Dehydrate the grains for 12 to 18 hours.
Once the grains are firm and dry, transfer them to the freezer or
grind them in a grain grinder. Grind them to a
fine flour, sift it, as desired, and store it in the freezer until
ready to use.
Jenny McGruther is a wife, mother and cooking instructor specializing
in real and traditional foods. Her first book,
'The Nourished Kitchen', features more than 160 wholesome, traditional