Sprouted Wheat

Last year I took a workshop on whole grain breads at SFBI, in which we sprouted some wheat berries and used them in two breads. I loved those breads so much that afterwards at home I promptly got some wheat berries of my own, set them to sprouting, ground them up, and put them in the refrigerator with the intention of baking with them within a few days.

Well… one thing and another kept me from getting to that sprouted wheat for quite some time… and when I finally opened up the container I got a nose full of fumes that left no doubt as to what “grain alcohol” is all about. So consider yourself warned: sprouted wheat does not keep forever in the refrigerator; it will, given enough time, ferment itself into oblivion. If you’re going to go to the trouble of sprouting it, make sure you have a plan for using it.

That batch was destined for the compost pile, but I did better this time. If you guessed that this is a batch of ground sprouted wheat berries that I prepared for my BreadBakingDay #11 (bread with sprouts) offering, you were absolutely right.

Beyond being a delicious addition to bread, sprouted grains have health benefits. Sprouting induces the wheat berry to produce enzymes that break down starches, proteins, and fats; this makes the grain easier to digest. Also, sprouting makes the grain’s nutrients more available to us by degrading phytic acid, a substance in wheat bran that impedes our absorption of iron, calcium, and other minerals

Wheat berries are available at Whole Foods and natural foods stores. The sprouting is quite a simple process. I used the food grinder attachment on my KitchenAid mixer to do the grinding, but I think a food processor, or perhaps a food mill, would also work.

My wheat absorbed about 60% of its weight in water. I started with about 400 g of berries and wound up with about 640 g of sprouted grain. The berry on the left is dry, and the one on the right is sprouted and swollen with water:

Sprouted Wheat

Ingredients:

  • Hard red or white wheat berries (available in bulk at natural foods stores)
  • Water

Method:

  1. Place well-washed wheat berries in a container at least 3 times their volume, and fill the container with water.
  2. Cover the container and place it in a dark, room-temperature spot.
  3. Every few hours, stir the berries up with your hand.
  4. After 24 hours, drain the berries and replace the water with fresh water.
  5. Continue to stir with your hand every few hours.
  6. After 48 hours, you should see the tips of the berries just beginning to sprout, and the endosperm (white interior part of the berry) should be able to be easily expressed with your fingers.
  7. Rinse the berries well by swirling them around in fresh water and draining. A thin towel held tightly over the mouth of the container is easier than a colander. Do this several times until the water runs clear (it took me about ten times).
  8. Grind the berries in a food grinder.
  9. Store in the refrigerator until ready to use (up to several days).

After making my bread (which is coming up in the next post), I had left over grain, and since it looked so much like ground meat I though I’d try making a “burger” with it. I combined it with some finely chopped carrot, onion, and zucchini, some egg, and some seasoning, and you know, it wasn’t half bad! With a little work it could even be a recipe I’d share.

CommentsLeave a comment

  1. says

    Thank you for informing how to sprout wheat. I’ve heard of sprouted wheat bread and I have wheat berries, but I never knew before how to make the connection! I’m excited to try this!

  2. says

    I’m sprouting rye and wheat berries for bbd right now and have no idea how my bread is going to turn out. I’ve always found the process intimidating and now I get to try it out.

  3. says

    I have some different grains, but I haven’t tried sprouted grains in bread, yet, just cooked ones. I’ll check your site for a recipe or maybe you’ll be posting the one you’re doing right now?
    Jane

  4. says

    I just bought wheat this weekend at a market to sprout. i have never done it before, so it is nice to get a quick lesson! I look forward to learning more about this! Thanks!

  5. says

    Jane & Jeremy, I just posted the bread recipe.

    Tanna, looking forward to seeing yours!

    Mary, you’re welcome. I think you’ll find it’s quite easy.

    Jude, I’d like to try sprouting rye, not sure where to get the berries. Good luck with your bread!

    Ulrike, interesting that you found no difference. I saved some of my whole sprouted berries thinking I would use them in another bread, so I’m curious how it will turn out.

    Aparna, yes, it will be interesting to see the variety of breads this month!

    Gretchen Noelle, you’re welcome. I’m looking forward to seeing what you do with your sprouted wheat!

  6. Tim says

    Hi,
    I think you missed a step in your process. Since you ground it and stored it without first drying it, it, of course, fermented in a short period. What you are trying to make is MALT. Most bakeries use barley berry malt, but wheat malt works just as well. What it produces with all the added enzymes is a “dough conditioner” that tends to make a finer and more coherent bread crumb, as well as some obvious health benefits. The malt also makes sugar an optional ingredient, although I use a teaspoonful to aid in browning the loaf. So, after the wheat sprouts (the sprout should be about as long as the grain of wheat), the next step is to dry it (sun drying takes several days – oven drying with low temp and a cracked door at the lowest temperature is much quicker -> 1-2 hours), then grind it and put it in an airtight container (jar with lid) and it will last indefinitely in the fridge. The bread should require as little as one teaspoon of the malt to perform its miracles. Great stuff! Tim

  7. Tim says

    BTW…the resulting malt is referred to as diastatic malt and you can buy enough (made from barley berries) to last just about forever (if stored correctly, e.g., in an air tight jar in the fridge), for about five bucks. You can use the same sprouting method, sans the drying and grinding, for making your own bean sprouts (any bean but mung is the one for starters), alfalfa, etc. Tim

  8. says

    Craig, as I understand it the pigments in red wheat bran that are responsible for the darker color are also responsible for its slightly bitter flavor. So white wheat, which does not have those pigments, has a milder, less bitter flavor. I believe the baking performance is comparable.

    Tim, thanks for the info on making diastatic malt. Although here I was actually not trying to make that, I would like to try it in the future. It would be nice not to have to order it from King Arthur Flour, which is the only place I know to buy it.

  9. Becky says

    I’m not clear…so I allow some of my sprouted berries to turn to malt in the fridge, and then I dry the rest to be ground into four? How much malt do I need for a loaf of bread?

  10. says

    Becky, I’m not sure if you were addressing your questions to me but I can’t really advise you on making malt flour as I have never done that. As for how much to use, I only use it if the formula I’m using calls for it. Malt is not needed in every dough. It is helpful, for example, in doughs that use a large amount of a preferment (e.g. sourdough or poolish).

  11. Becky says

    Susan…thanks for your reply. I read your instructions on sprouting berries. Without drying them, you said to grind them. If they are moist, are they going to mill into flour? So, then I read Tim’s comment that you need to dry the berries, and thus, I followed your steps, but then dried the sprouted berries, as per Tim’s suggestion, and then milled them. It looks just like flour. I suppose my question is: Do I have diastatic malt, or do I have sprouted berry wheat flour?

  12. says

    Becky, no, when they are ground they are not flour, just ground sprouted wheat. I don’t dry them. Tim and I are talking about two different things, I think.

  13. Becky says

    Thanks, Susan. I suppose I have malt, then. I guess I had best start experimenting with malt in my bread.
    I eagerly await your suggestions for using sprouted wheat.

  14. SuibAbumn says

    There are 5 houses in five different colors
    In each house lives a different nationality.
    These 5 owners drink a certain beverage, smoke a certain brand of cigar and keep a certain pet.
    No owners have the same pet, smoke the same brand of cigar, or drink the same beverage.

    The CLUES:

    The Brit lives in the Red house.
    The Swede keeps dogs as pets.
    The Dane Drinks tea.
    The Green House is on the left of the White House.
    The Green House’s owner drinks coffee.
    The person who smokes Pall Mall rears birds.
    The owner of the yellow house smokes Dunhill.
    The man in the center house drinks milk.
    The Norwegian lives in the first house.
    The man who smokes Blends lives next to the one who keeps cats
    The man who keeps horses lives next to the man who smokes Dunhill.
    The man who smokes Blue Master drinks beer.
    The German smokes Prince.
    The Norwegian lives next to the Blue House.
    The man who smokes Blends has a neighbor who drinks water.
    The QUESTION:

    Who owns the fish?

  15. Barbara Tippen says

    I have a great recipe for Sprouted
    Wheat Burgers if anyone wants it. It originates from Jethro Kloss’s Back to Eden Book. If you have never heard of this book, I highly recommend it. The over 900 page book is the original one, there is one floating around that it not the original and only has some recipes in it, but the original one teaches you about herbs, cooking naturally, raw foods, and how the effect your body, and some great recipes. It also talks about how toxic aluminum is, and relates a true account of a whole group of people getting food poisining from soaking their raw chicken in aluminum pans. Anyway, the Sprouted Wheat Burger Recipe:
    2 cups sprouted (Hard red spring wheat berries)
    2 cups steamed millet
    1/2 cup sunflower seeds (ground or whole-Your choice)
    1/2 cup pumpkin seeds (ground or whole)
    3 Tbs Almond or Cashew Butter
    2 Tbs Safflower or Vegetable Oil
    1/4 cup raw white onion or 1 Tbs Onion Powder(green onion can be used)
    1/2 cup bread crumbs (I use sprouted grain bread crumbs)
    1/2 Tsp Tyme, Sage, and Sea Salt
    Mix all ingredients throughly, form patties and cook over medium heat until brown on both sides.

    Sprouting: Soak the berries overnight in the frig,covered with filtered water) Place the berries in a gallon glass jar or like, and cover the top with cheese cloth or breathable material, I use a hair tie to hold the cloth on as a lid. You can also use papertowel for the cover, as long as air can get to the berries as they are sprouting) Place the jar(s) in a cool dark place on it’s side and roll the berries around so they stick to the side of the jar as they are sprouting. Make sure you rinse the berries two to three times a day. Make sure you rinse the berries two to three times a day with fresh cold water, or they don’t go bad. Do not let them get dry!!
    The sprouts are done when they are about 1/2 inch long. It usually takes about two to three days.
    If anyone has any questions you can email me at barbiet.77@comcast.net

  16. says

    Hi Susan, I tried to sprout soft wheat berries. I followed your instructions, but after 2 days nothing happened. What went wrong, you think? Hope you can help me.

  17. ruthie says

    I used to make sprouted wheat bread, but I didn’t grind/chop the sprouts up. I just used my grandmother’s half whole wheat/half white recipe and added the sprouts. I let the wheat sprout a bit more than yours — necessary I think if you’re not going to grind/chop, or they might turn into rocks in the baking.

    I make a veggie burger with grains as part of the mix, too! I cook part of them (those do get chopped) and sprout part. Again, I let the sprouts go a bit more than your pic, but not bean sprout crazy, and mix them in that way. I like the texture better.

    Sorry to comment on such an old post, but I’ve just come across your blog and am enjoying it very much. ;)

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