Soaking Those Grains…What is THAT about?

I’ve had tons of emails lately asking if I soak my grains and how I do it and why I do it!

Most of the recipes on my site have not shown that I soak my grains.  Mostly I did that because I know that many of my readers are just beginning to look into making changes toward healthy eating.  I decided…if you are just starting out trying to switch over from fruit roll-ups to real fruit…from white flour to whole wheat…from boxed foods to foods made from scratch…it would be very discouraging to hear that you also should “prepare your grains 12-24 hours ahead of time by soaking them in something that is lacto-fermented in order to break down the phytic acid…”

It’s overwhelming enough sometimes just to try to get your kids to eat a green bean…and to wrap your brain around the fact that almost every food on the shelves that we might be used to eating has a no-no ingredient in it.

So, if you’re just starting out on the healthy eating trail…read over the information in this post and tuck it away for whenever or if ever you’re ready.  Continue to take baby steps and make small changes.  Read the Getting Real with Food series here to give you some basic ideas of where to start and what to do.

But, if you’re eating a lot of whole grains already and are used to baking from scratch anyway, and you want to take this nutrition thing one step farther…here’s some information for you about soaking grains that I am paraphrasing from Sally Fallon’s book “Nourishing Traditions”:

Eating whole grains is important because they provide vitamin E, B vitamins, many important minerals and fiber.  But the phytic acid in the grain combines with the iron, calcium, magnesium, copper and zinc in the intestinal tract, blocking their absorption.  They also contain enzyme inhibitors that can interfere with digestion.

So, Nourishing Traditions recommends that we soak our grains in either whey, cultured yogurt, kefir, cultured buttermilk…or in lemon juice or vinegar if you can’t tolerate milk products.  Soaking them for at least seven hours allows the enzymes to break down and neutralize the phytic acid.  Then, more of the good nutrients in the grain are released and all the good stuff is more readily absorbed in our systems and the grain is digested much more easily.

Okay…so quick re-cap.  Eating whole grains is so, so much better for you than processed grains that have almost all of their nutrients stripped from them.  Eating whole grains that have been soaked is even better.

How do I do this?

It’s really not hard…I just have to plan ahead a little more.  And I don’t always soak everything even though I know I should.  I try to just do the best I can.  (That’s the goal right?)

So, here’s a quick run down of the basics of how I soak my grains when preparing recipes:

Pancakes and Waffles…I stir the whole wheat flour and the buttermilk together, cover it with a cloth and let it sit overnight.  The next day, I add the remaining ingredients and cook the pancakes or waffles.  They are SO YUMMY made like this!

Quick Breads and Muffins…I mix the flour with the butter (melted and cooled) or oil that the recipe calls for and add enough buttermilk to make it “soakable”.  I let it sit overnight, then mix in the remaining ingredients.

Giant Breakfast Cookies and Breakfast Bars…I mix the melted butter, flour and oats with enough buttermilk to soak then let it sit overnight.  I have found these to be VERY HARD to stir the next morning, so putting the soaked mixture into my food processor with the other ingredients so that it doesn’t take me 45 minutes (or until lunchtime) just to stir the silly things.  Yea for food processors.

Tortillas…I mix up the tortillas as the recipes says, only I put in 1/4 cup less water and add 1/4 cup yogurt, kefir or buttermilk as I’m making the recipe.  Then, I let them sit for the day, and roll them and cook them that night for dinner.  They roll out so nicely after they’ve been soaked.

Breads, Rolls and Pretzels…These belong in the “I don’t soak these but I should” category.  When I’m really on the ball, I make sourdough bread…but my sourdough starter isn’t starting anymore, so I need to get a new one going.  In the meantime, I’m compromising and making Honey Whole Wheat Bread, and that’s okay with me.  After I get my sourdough going again, I’ll post about it.  Sourdough bread is so tasty!

Cookies and Brownies…I rarely soak these either, mostly because I’m lazy about it.  When I do soak them, I mix the butter and flour called for in the recipe with a few tablespoons of buttermilk, kefir or yogurt…allow them to sit for a few hours, then add the remaining ingredients and bake.

I hope that helps.  I’ll cover soaking other grains like rice and oats in the future.  And, as I slowly but surely get around to it…I’ll go back through each of my site recipes and blog recipes and add a brief explanation of how to soak the grains if you choose to do so.  That way, you have the option if you’d like!

And now, I think I’ll go grind me some flour and soak something.  Because looking at all these recipes put me in the mood to bake.

(Like I’m ever not in the mood to bake?!)  :)

Like This? Bless Others By Sharing!
Share on Facebook0Pin on Pinterest53Tweet about this on Twitter0Email this to someoneShare on LinkedIn0Print this page

Comments

  1. says

    HOLY POOP… Wow, now I need to think about soaking grains…. Which is fine, just a TIME thought! I have never heard of that, I guess it is time to FINALLY read Norishing Traditions! Thanks for explaining this today!

    [Reply]

  2. says

    I have wondered regarding soaking grains, do you still soak them if it is store bought flour. I don’t have a grain mill so I just buy my flour (King Arthur’s Organic whole wheat). Should I soak that? And, thank you for this post. I really have been wondering about soaking the grains and what works.

    [Reply]

  3. Lenetta says

    What about your oats for granola, Laura? I made a batch a month or so ago, and it took me a bit to figure out why we were all so (ahem) rumbly in the tumbly area. I’m sure I needed to soak the oats.

    And, I haven’t remembered to look yet, but is the standard buttermilk sold in the average Nebraska grocery store the stuff that has live cultures?

    Or do I need to go get friendly with hubby’s pet cow, Leroy? She hasn’t cared for me since I became the “other woman” in her relationship with my now-husband . . . who knew bovines were so fickle? Anyway, I’m not so sure she’d take to being milked, even if I knew which pasture or pen she was in on any given day . . .

    [Reply]

  4. Lenetta says

    What about your oats for granola, Laura? I made a batch a month or so ago, and it took me a bit to figure out why we were all so (ahem) rumbly in the tumbly area. I’m sure I needed to soak the oats.

    And, I haven’t remembered to look yet, but is the standard buttermilk sold in the average Nebraska grocery store the stuff that has live cultures?

    Or do I need to go get friendly with hubby’s pet cow, Leroy? She hasn’t cared for me since I became the “other woman” in her relationship with my now-husband . . . who knew bovines were so fickle? Anyway, I’m not so sure she’d take to being milked, even if I knew which pasture or pen she was in on any given day . . .

    [Reply]

  5. jayme says

    Here is my question…you aren’t supposed to soak grains with milk or yogurt or whatever that you buy at say…Wal-Mart. You are supposed to do the soaking with raw milk and yogurt right??? or wrong???

    [Reply]

    Alicia Reply:

    Do you refrigerate the stuff you are soaking or leave out?????

    [Reply]

    Laura Reply:

    You can leave it on the countertop overnight while it soaks. It doesn’t hurt a thing – the dairy is cultured, therefore filled with wonderful, good bacteria. :)

    [Reply]

  6. Pat says

    Thanks Laura :) you are a great help and I appreciate you taking time to answer that.
    Jayme: you can use cultured products from a grocery store such as buttermilk or plain yogert. If you can use an organic yogert or homemade so much the better! It does not have to be raw.

    [Reply]

  7. says

    Wow Laura, fantastic job! This post is so wonderfully informative. I know I will refer back to this often.

    Thank you so much for taking the time to do this.

    [Reply]

  8. says

    I’ve loved learning about soaking whole grains…for many reasons, but one is -they cook up faster in the morning! (not being a morning person, that’s a realllll plus)

    For wheat bread, I often forget to soak but if I do, I use a recipe that has a longgggg rising period…like 7+ hours. I start in the morning and by evening it’s ready!

    I’ve not had good success with some other stuff (can’t get it moistened well) but the food processor would probably do just the trick! Thanks for sharing!!!!

    [Reply]

  9. says

    Thank you so much for posting this. I had seen others posting about soaking grains and I wasn’t sure why or how to go about it. This was wonderful to know. :D

    [Reply]

  10. Laura says

    Lemme answer some of those questions!

    Gretchen – Yes, even if the flour is store bought.

    Lenetta – Yes, soak your oats (more on that in another post). Yes, I think the buttermilk in the store is cultured. Yes, get to know your cow Leroy. Might be fun.

    Tracy – Not a silly question at all…soak ‘em on the counter.

    Jayme – You can soak your grains with Walmart stuff. The really main thing is that it has live cultures. (the really main thing?)

    Did I forget anything? :)

    [Reply]

  11. Kelly says

    ok so in some of the examples you listed the buttermilk or soaking liquid was not an ingredient in the original recipe right? but you don’t drain it off before using the grains (i guess it’s obvious i’ve never done this before because maybe it’s an obvious answer like there’s nothing to drain cuz the grains absorb all the liquid?)? so does it affect the taste of the recipes?? so interesting, thanks!

    [Reply]

  12. Laura says

    Kelly,

    Right, the buttermilk or soaking liquid is not always an original ingredient, you just throw in a little for the soaking process. Yes, the grain absorbs the liquid so there’s nothing to pour off, you just finish making the recipe as normal after the soaking. It does affect the taste, some…mostly it just enhances the flavor. You may find that soaking makes your recipes taste a little sour…but it’s a sweet sour, not a sour-sour…does that make sense? It’s tastes GOOD! :)

    [Reply]

  13. says

    Great Post, Laura. The majority of recipes on my site are “soaked” because I appreciate the health benefits and the taste. ;-)

    I think that it’s very true, that many people can be overwhelmed with thinking of changing to whole wheat, AND soaking their grains. I appreciate that you make things accessible.

    The only draw back would be if somebody tries to add in whole grains and it really bothers them. I know that some people can deal fine with the phytic acid, and others can really have issues with it. In that case, it would be better to just go straight to the soaking process, otherwise they would get discouraged and it probably wouldn’t be that great for them anyways to eat the unsoaked.

    In reality, I find that some of things I have made “soaked” are not quite what I want, but other ones taste ten times better soaked! :-)

    Blessings!

    [Reply]

  14. says

    Great Post Laura,
    I soak my foods too.We eat clean. I so enjoy finding other women that are the healthy eating journey. I love visiting you.A magazine you would love is Clean Eating.
    Blessings,
    Elizabeth

    [Reply]

  15. says

    Hi Laura,
    I love your website! I’ve learned so much since subscribing to this blog!

    I do have a question about this post, though. I have been making my own loaf bread recently, which uses half whole wheat flour. Is there anything I should be doing to soak the flour for this type of bread? It isn’t “sourdough” bread – it’s just a regular loaf bread. I want to make sure it’s as nutritious as possible for my family!

    Thank you so much!

    Blessings to you,
    Betsy

    [Reply]

  16. LynAnn says

    Ok, quick question on your bread. If I were to soak the whole wheat flour overnight what would I soak it in? Buttermilk? Also, if I am soaking things in buttermilk, is it alright if it’s buttermilk I’ve made with milk and vinegar? Thanks!

    [Reply]

  17. Janet says

    Hey, I just read this post about soaking grains… do you grind your own grains? Do you soak the flour after you grind it? (That’s what i’m understanding from this post) Sorry if you’ve covered these things before, I just discovered your site in the last week. Thanks, because it is a perfect reference and it seems you have some awesome recipes i can’t wait to try!

    [Reply]

  18. Angelina says

    Can I ask a question about soaking grains? Can I do it with raw milk and lemon juice mixed together instead of real butter milk?

    Thanks!

    [Reply]

    shari Reply:

    this is my question too!

    [Reply]

  19. sara says

    hi there…

    i just came across your webpage today and have copied so many recipes! thank you. can’t wait to make bagels and pretzels!

    i just had to jump in (a wee bit late) on this soaking grains discussion because i USED to soak my grains (being a Nourishing Traditions wannabe, myself) until i read this article by a christian lady named Sue Becker. (i will include link below). As much as i like NT and think they are on to some great stuff, i still want my final authority on grains to be the Bible, not Sally Fallon or Weston Price. That being said, read the article and decide for yourself. i’m enjoying the health benefits of baking with my freshly milled, non-soaked grains!

    http://breadbeckers.com/phytic_acid_friend_or_foe.htm

    [Reply]

    Jacqueline Reply:

    The article noted above has been moved to …
    http://info.breadbeckers.com/phytic-acid
    It is interesting reading, along with what
    you shared in the post above. You need not
    apologize for not soaking all your grains.
    Perhaps a combination of soaked, and
    unsoaked, grains is best.

    [Reply]

  20. LennyAnn says

    Can you soak your flour with the leavening agents already mixed in? I make up containers for bread, muffins, pancakes, etc with all the dry ingredients in them. Some have lard in them, some I cut butter into, and others I add oil with the wet ingredients. I can see soaking my bread mix with the yeast could pose a problem. But what about the pastries with baking powder or soda? I love baking with my mixes and would hate to stop making them inorder to soak things. Please notify my email if you comment. Thanks

    [Reply]

    Laura Reply:

    It is generally best to soak the grain before leavening is added for the soaking to be most effective.

    [Reply]

  21. Amy says

    Hello, I am new to this idea of soaking grains. We use organic stone ground whole wheat flour in most of our baking. If I am going to soak it in raw milk can I leave it out on the counter overnight or should I put it in the fridge? Thanks for your help! :)

    [Reply]

    Laura Reply:

    If you soak it, in order to break down the phytates, it needs to be soaked in a cultured dairy (not just plain raw milk) like cultured buttermilk or kefir or yogurt. You can just leave it on the countertop all night and it will be fine!

    [Reply]

    Ronda Reply:

    Hi, will it be acidic enough to break it down and not go rancid, if I soak my flour in raw milk and 2 Tablespoons of lemon juice per batch?

    Also, NT said some people used skim milk for biscuits. Do you know if it would be cultured?

    [Reply]

  22. Charlotte Moore says

    I just read the article from Sue Becker about Phytic Acid and soaking grains. I actually got my start on grinding wheat and making bread from their store. Bread Beckers is in Woodstock, GA and only about 30 minutes from where I live. I have gone to 3 of their cooking classes and really enjoyed them. I get my Montana Wheat from Whole Foods in Marietta, GA

    I have many kinds of grain. Spelt, kamut, amarinth, buckwheat, soy, brown rice, hard red wheat, hard white, soft white, barley, and I have tried ezekiel mix. My favorite is the hard red and hard white for bread.

    I do grind some of all of it at times and make pancakes and they are great. So I guess they would be a multi grain pancake.

    [Reply]

  23. Scott says

    If we use store-bought flour, should we still soak it?

    [Reply]

    Laura Reply:

    Yes, it’s best even if it is store bought.

    [Reply]

  24. says

    I love your site as I just discovered it recently. Thanks
    for sharing all of your ideas……..just what I needed as
    I’ve been in a rut with my cooking for awhile now.

    As far as soaking grains go, this is quite a new concept for
    me. I read the article that Sara mentioned above(the Nov.3rd post)& am now confused. What’s your
    opinion of that article? I’m willing to learn how to take
    this “next step” if it’s truly proven to be beneficial; however, if it’s not then I really don’t want to put the added
    effort in to learn how & actually “bite the bullet” in doing
    it. Thanks for your reply!!

    [Reply]

  25. says

    Hi! I’m new at your site & am really enjoying your recipes!!
    Just what I needed to spur me on in cooking for my fam as
    I’ve been in a rut!

    I’m also very new in learning about sprouting grains/flours
    & am a bit confused after reading the article above the was
    posted by Sara, on Nov.3rd. What’s your take on this?

    Is there actually scientific evidence in supporting the
    benefits of soaking/sprouting? I also really enjoy learning
    from Dr. Mercola who currently has the #1 health website,
    & he’s not an advocate of eating grains at all. Soooo,
    I’d appreciate any advice you’d be willing to send my way!
    Thanks again!!

    [Reply]

    Laura Reply:

    http://heavenlyhomemakers.com/more-about-soaking-grains-or-not

    http://heavenlyhomemakers.com/is-agave-nectar-good-for-you-should-i-soak-my-grains-a-bit-of-controversy

    Those are two links to past posts that address these issues a little bit more. Also, here is a podcast where I addressed what Dr. Mercola says about grains: http://heavenlyhomemakers.com/favorite-cookware-and-bakeware-and-should-we-eat-wheat-podcast-5

    [Reply]

  26. Tracy says

    Just found you, and a little overwhelmed :) So, my son is severely allergic to dairy. You mentioned soaking in lemon juice or vinegar as an alternative. Wouldn’t that taste yucky in most of those recipes? You were also talking about live cultures being important… there is a live culture yogurt made from coconut milk that I sometimes buy (dairy free), would that work the same? Thanks so much!

    [Reply]

    Laura Reply:

    Yes, the cultured yogurt made from coconut milk would be a perfect substitute in my recipes for milk yogurt or even kefir or buttermilk. I think if you were substituting lemon juice, you should do mostly water with a shot of lemon juice…otherwise yes…that would be weird! :)

    [Reply]

    Kristi Reply:

    I use a tablespoon of lemon juice or whey per 1 cup of water….nothing tastes weird.

    [Reply]

  27. Laura says

    I’ve been soaking for a few weeks now and loving the results. I soak our oatmeal and make pancakes and muffins with soaked flour. The texture and flavor have been lovely. The only problem is that my children are complaining off and on about stomach aches. I can’t figure out if it’s related to the soaking, but can’t think of anything else different. Is it possible that some people’s digestion has to adjust to soaked foods? Has anyone else experienced this?

    [Reply]

    Laura Reply:

    Wow, I’m sorry to hear your kids are having tummy trouble with this. It does take a little bit of time to adjust, but usually soaking helps tummies feel better, not worse. Are they getting plenty of water to flush the system and stay hydrated?

    [Reply]

    Patricia Reply:

    Laura, you dont know how helpful your recipes and thoughts are for me,thanks so much for sharing your wisdom with us. I am very new to soaking but recently read and found some new info suggesting not to use dairy products to do so, since the effect could be contrary of what we are looking for. So I am in roadblock, trying some of your recipes soaking only with water instead. Anyway…if you have thoughts about this would be great. Here a youtube link I found on this topic.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m3RUpWU_3J0

    [Reply]

  28. says

    Isn’t that bad to leave dairy out all night? I want to do this but it makes me so nervous! Especially about food I feed to my 10 month old son. You know?

    [Reply]

    Laura Reply:

    No, it’s fine…eve though it goes against everything we’ve been taught! The dairy is cultured, which means it’s full of GOOD, LIVE bacteria. No need to worry!

    [Reply]

  29. Alli says

    just so you know- the link you have for “honey whole wheat bread” at the bottom of this post goes to your home depot garden post instead of the bread post. thought you might want to know!

    [Reply]

    Laura Reply:

    Fixed it, thank you!

    [Reply]

  30. Karen says

    I am a Sally Fallon fan too! In her book she says to soak oats in whey, buttermilk, kefir, or yogurt–but for wheat she doesn’t mention whey. I’m wondering why she omitted it. Have you soaked your wheat in whey before? I’m trying to find ways to use this quart of whey!

    [Reply]

    Laura Reply:

    Interesting, I don’t know! I’ve not done any soaking with whey, I usually use buttermilk or kefir. :)

    [Reply]

    Kristi Reply:

    I soak my wheat in whey made with raw milk….

    [Reply]

  31. Michelle says

    Just read this article…is it ok to use raw buttermilk to sit all night?? Just starting w/ the raw milk, and wanted to make sure! Thanks

    [Reply]

    Laura Reply:

    Yes, it’s definitely safe. Raw buttermilk is alive with healthy bacteria so won’t cause any problems. :)

    [Reply]

    Ronda Reply:

    I have 3 questions:) I read it fast and used raw whole milk to make my bread. …so it was uncultured….unless it cultured during the soaking. Do you know if this is safe. I just started two loaves last night and thought more of it.

    Hi, will it be acidic enough to break it down and not go rancid, if I soak my flour in raw milk and 2 Tablespoons of lemon juice per batch?

    Also, NT said some people used skim milk for biscuits. Do you know if it would be cultured?

    [Reply]

  32. Bill Gargan says

    Laura;

    Great read and very interesting, it will change my cooking from now on. But when it comes to beans, whole dry beans. Do I put a couple drops of vinegar or lemon juice in the initial overneight soak water? Is that right?

    Thanks,

    [Reply]

    Laura Reply:

    Yes, I do usually splash in some vinegar when I soak my beans. :)

    [Reply]

  33. Kathy says

    Three questions….
    1) Why do you add your butter before you soak? Is it just for the moisture?
    2) Do you put the mixture in the refrigerator to soak overnight, or just leave it on the countertop?
    3) What if a recipe does not call for kefir or buttermilk (e.g. your Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins, which I LOVE)? Do you add one of those to soak even if it’s not in the recipe? If so, does the added moisture change the end product?

    [Reply]

    Laura Reply:

    Yes, the butter is for moisture. I would leave it on the countertop.
    And to adapt a recipe, I would change the regular milk to a cultured milk like buttermilk, yogurt, or kefir.

    As a follow-up to this post, I really don’t soak my grains much anymore, and have lots of peace abuot that decision: http://heavenlyhomemakers.com/my-current-thoughts-about-soaking-or-not-soaking-grains

    [Reply]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *