Originally published March 10 2009
Soak Up the Goodness of Life: A How-To Guide for Soaking Grains
by Elizabeth Walling
(NaturalNews) Once you've heard about the benefits of soaking your grains, it's easy to feel overwhelmed with the information. It's exciting to learn how much you can improve your health simply by taking the time to soak your grains, but if you're not careful, questions about how to put this method into practice can leave you feeling confused and unsure of where to begin.
If you give up before you ever start, however, you'll be losing all of the health benefits that come only from pre-soaking your grains. This includes breaking down phytic acid, which binds to the nutrients in grain and prevents them from being absorbed in the body. Soaking also helps pre-digest the grain and neutralizes enzyme inhibitors, which is highly beneficial since grains are difficult for the digestive system to break down. The process is especially useful for anyone who has a history of digestive problems such as gluten intolerance or irritable bowel syndrome. Best of all, soaking your grains can increase their vitamin and mineral content, sometimes by several times more!
Here are the answers to commonly asked questions about soaking grains:
How long should grains be soaked?
Allow your grains to soak for at least 7 hours to ensure a good portion of phytic acid is broken down. Soaking for 12-24 hours yields the best results, but any more time than that does not significantly increase the nutritional quality of the grain. A simple overnight soak is enough for most grains, but if you plan ahead you can easily extend soaking time to get those added benefits.
How much liquid should I use?
Generally, use the same amount that you would normally use in preparing a particular recipe. For instance, if you typically cook one cup of brown rice in two cups of water, simply use two cups of water to soak one cup of rice.
What are the benefits of adding an acidic medium to the soaking water? How much acidic medium should be used?
Acidic liquid doubles the benefits you get from soaking your grains, because the acidity helps break down anti-nutrients and further pre-digests the grains. Acceptable acidic mediums are cultured buttermilk, apple cider vinegar, whey, yogurt and kefir. Use 1-2 tablespoons of acidic medium per cup of water.
My family doesn't like the sour taste of soaked grains. Can I soak them in plain water?
Many people find the taste of soaked grains very palatable, but some do not. Omitting the acidic medium is an acceptable alternative. Although acidic water maximizes soaking results, plain water is still highly effective and eliminates some of the strong taste of soaked grains. Another option is draining off the acidic liquid when you're done soaking the grain and then rinsing the grain, which will eliminate much of the sour taste.
Can I make homemade bread with soaked flour?
Yes, and it's really not that difficult. Use the same amount of flour and liquid called for in a recipe plus an acidic medium if desired. Use a fork to toss the liquid with the flour in a mixing bowl. Cover tightly and allow to soak for 12-24 hours. Then prepare your bread as usual, adding liquid or flour as necessary to achieve the right consistency for your dough. You'll find baked goods made with soaked grains are very light and flavorful. They taste especially delicious when soaked in full strength cultured buttermilk or yogurt.
I grind my own grains. Can I soak them before grinding them?
Absolutely. There are many people who do this. Simply soak your grains for the appropriate time beforehand, drain and allow to dry completely before grinding.
If you have little experience or knowledge of soaking grains, rest assured; the process is easy to learn and to apply in your kitchen. It may feel a little unfamiliar at first, so experiment with just a few dishes a week to allow yourself to adapt to this new technique. Once you've tried it, though, you'll likely realize soaking grains is so easy and beneficial. It will quickly become a routine step in cooking at home.
About the authorElizabeth Walling is a freelance writer specializing in health and family nutrition. She is a strong believer in natural living as a way to improve health and prevent modern disease. She enjoys thinking outside of the box and challenging common myths about health and wellness. You can visit her blog to learn more:
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