Soaking Grains

If you’ve checked out any of my recipes, you’ve noticed in some of my instructions and comments that soaking grains will yield more nutritional benefits before preparing them.  Are you wondering what I mean when I refer to soaking grains?

Let’s start with a little background information about grain.

Grains contain phytic acid which links with the minerals calcium, iron, zinc, and magnesium, making them very difficult to absorb and sometimes un-absorbable.  This can lead to deficiencies and digestion problems.  Soaking helps break down and neutralize the acid, making the vitamins and minerals absorbable and allowing proteins like gluten, to be more easily digested.  This is good news for those who are gluten intolerant!  If soaking grains are incorporated, those who are gluten intolerant might find they can actually tolerate many of the grains they’ve had to avoid.

Additionally in the soaking process, enzyme inhibitors are neutralized and many other helpful enzymes are produced during this time.  The process has the potential to reduce sensitivity or allergic reactions in people who typically react to unsoaked grains.  I also believe that rotating grains is important.  I do not eat wheat bread every day.  I have sought to make sure that our family is consuming a large variety of soaked grains.

Since I first learned about it a few years ago, I began incorporating this step into my cooking as much as possible.  I felt overwhelmed at first, but quickly discovered that soaking grains is easy, and it actually makes the preparation process a little more manageable since you do half of it the day before!  Not only that, but I absolutely love the texture it yields.  Everything isso moist! I don’t soak my grains every time. It is ideal, but sometimes in the busy-ness of life, I forget or throw something together at the last minute.  Grains are still good for you even if you don’t soak them, but  I seek to have the norm be to consume soaked grains.

So, how do you do it?  A general rule of thumb is to add 1T of acidic medium per 1c of water.   I use 1T plain yogurt when I make 1 serving of oatmeal, for example.  Use warm water to soak the grain in and add the acidic medium.  Cover and let it sit for 7-24 hours.  Grains such as brown rice, millet, and buckwheat need less time to soak because they contain the least amount of phytates.  Oats require the most amount of soaking time and it’s best to let them soak for the maximum 24 hours.

It is the easiest to begin with cereal grains.  If you make oatmeal, quinoa, or any other breakfast porridge, this is a great place to start.  You can then go to quick breads, muffins, tortillas and then move on to yeast breads.  Soaking grains has been a wonderful easy way to enhance my family’s nutrition without spending more time or money.

Are you wondering what recipes you can try soaking?  Check out my basic oatmeal recipe, the quinoa breakfast cereal recipe, double chocolate velvet pancakes, and our favorite cornbread recipe.  Then, head over to Lindsay’s recent post about adapting your recipes for soaking.  She has done a great job of explaining how to do it!

Have fun experimenting!  I think you’ll find that soaking grains is not nearly as intimidating as it might sound.

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2 Responses to Soaking Grains

  1. William Haun says:

    Any idea if you can soak grains and then freeze them for use at a later time? I’m a bit of a spur of the moment eater – I wake up and think “Mmm, oatmeal would be good this morning.” I don’t plan my breakfast the night before. Do you think freezing after soaking works with grains the way it works with beans?

  2. Kelly @ Domestic by Design says:

    William, first of all, I have to say that I think it’s AWESOME that with no shame, you posted a comment on a “mom” blog. Thanks for reading. :) To answer your question, I think you can soak them (I’d do a huge batch for the convenience aspect later) and then dehydrate them until they are nice and crisp. If you don’t have a dehydrator, you can do it in your oven at the lowest heat for a few hours. I’m not sure how freezing oats would be – but baked oatmeal that’s frozen is awesome. I know it’s sometimes a pain when you get a hankering for something! I think once in a while is fine! But honestly, I don’t like the flavor of the unsoaked oats anymore!