How to Sprout Grains (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 these sprouted grain cookies, or in this sprouted bread with milk and honey.  Sprouting sweetens grains naturally, and the process also helps to mitigate the effects of antinutrients like phytic acid which are found in whole grains.  It release 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 seemingly inactive.

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 antinutrients -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 antinutrients, 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 antinutrients 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 for sprouting.

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 here.

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 purposes.

  • 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 this slowcooker.
  • 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 trays.
  • 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.

sproutedgrain

Sprouted Grain Flour

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.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound whole grain (such as rice, wheat berries, einkorn berries, spelt berries etc.)
  • 1 tablespoon vinegar

Instructions

  1. 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.
  2. Pour the grains into an over-the-sink fine-mesh sieve (like this one), 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 grains.
  3. Transfer the grains to dehydrator trays lined with a non-stick sheets (find them here). 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 (find them here). Grind them to a fine flour, sift it, as desired, and store it in the freezer until ready to use.
http://nourishedkitchen.com/how-to-make-sprouted-grain-flour/

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What people are saying

  1. Johanna says

    Don’t forget that you can also make rejuvalac to make some “alt” cheeses with the grains (or quinoa).

    • Jenny says

      It creates a slightly acidic environment which aids the release of phytase, and enzyme that helps to deactivate antinutrients and promote germination.

      • Linda says

        Could one use water Kefir once the sugar is gone and you have water kefir. Works much like vinegar since if left too long it indeed turns to vinegar

  2. says

    Thank you! I’ve finally ‘mastered’ soaked grain bread and sourdough, but have been wanting to dive into sprouted grain…but felt a little timid about it. Your post helps take the fear out! Looking forward to yet another kitchen adventure!

    • Becky Howard says

      Really looking forward to trying this. I have some sprouted grain on my counter top, ready to be dehydrated.
      Do you have bread recipes where you do not dehydrate the grain first. Instead just whiz it in the food processor. Do you think the nutrient content would be better not dehydrating it? Is it mainly dehydrated to make it easier to work with.

      Your website is very inspirational! I have had great success with your recipes and procedures! Thank you.

      Cindy, we need to bake together! ;)

  3. Braden says

    I brew beer from malted barley, as such I have a lot of malted barley and it would be easy to use it instead of sprouting the wheat that we grow. I know you said that malt isn’t good for certain things, like bread. Is there a way to use it that does work and which could give me the same nutrient benefits? Or is malt just bad news altogether?

    • Jenny says

      Use about 1-2 tablespoons mixed in with whatever flour your using (not sprouted/malted) and it will create a beautiful rich flavor and color.

  4. Amy says

    What do you do with the grains/ put them/ store them/ cover them for the 2-3 days? Do they just sit out in the strainer? Do you cover with a towel? Obviously they aren’t in your sink that whole time!

    • Jenny says

      No. I really do keep them in a sieve over my sink all that time. I remove the sieve and set it on the counter if I need to do dishes or something like that. I will sometimes cover them with a damp towel, but not always.

  5. Alliyanna says

    DO NOT SPROUT SORGHUM!! OR MILO…..TOXIC!!!!

    Hulles oats are what are needed for sprouting. Sproutpeople.com also carry hulless oats along with a lot of other neat things to sprout.

    Sprouting and soaking also remove phytates and lectins, which is really good for some of us!

  6. says

    You said to use a low temperature in the dehydrator, but you didn’t give a temperature or a range. Do you mean 100 – 110 degrees or more?

  7. Betsy says

    Where do you keep the grains for the 2-3 days they’re in the process of sprouting? In the sieve? In the bowl?

  8. Nikki says

    How do you use the flour? Do you use it in a 1:1 ratio? or do you have to mix it in with other flour?

    • Jenny says

      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.

  9. Debbie says

    I don’t have a dehydrator or the means to purchase one. What’s the best alternative to drying them? I tried this once before and lost my sprouted grains because I couldn’t get them dry enough to grind before they started going bad.

  10. Lisa says

    Great! This has been on my ‘gonna get to it one day’ list for a while now and this is just the encouragement I needed to get on with it. THANKS!!

  11. Nichole says

    I ruined my grain mill grinding home made sprouted flour. Now I will only hand mill it or grind it in the Vitamix. Expensive lesson.

  12. Sarah Krzymowski says

    Hello! I have wanted to sprout grains for awhile but have wondered about the price comparison. How much flour does one pound of wheat berries yield? Also, I have a friend who grains her sprouted grains in a small coffee grinder. It’s obviously labor and time intensive, but tight budgets make for creative solutions!

    • Sarah Acosta says

      Sarah, I initially started buying my sprouted grains from To Your Health Sprouted Flour Company in 2 lb bags. I found that the 2 lbs of wheat berries was approx. 4 1/2 c. of whole berries, which ended up being approx 7 1/4 c. of flour using my friend’s NutriMill. I still buy all my sprouted grains from them (last order was a 25 lb bag) but they also have the option of buying it pre-ground for you. They grind to order so you know it will be as fresh as possible w/o doing it yourself. (info for your friend, in case she wants/needs it).

  13. sarah says

    Thanks! Do you worry that the store bought sprouted flour has already gone rancid? I have heard that if it is not frozen it goes bad within a week. Do you think this is true?

  14. says

    I’ve been milling my own wheat for 5 years now…but just recently became aware/convinced that I need to soak/sprout/sour my grains for optimal nutrition. Just sprouted my first batch of einkorn wheat last week – turned out great in our favorite muffin recipe! One of the reasons I began milling my own wheat was because of the rather rapid loss of nutritional value after milling – 95% loss after 2-3 days, if I remember correctly. (something along those lines) My question: The way you mention milling the sprouted wheat and storing it in the freezer, is that purely a convenience thing? (I definitely see the benefit there!) Wouldn’t the loss of nutritional value be the same with sprouted wheat as it would with regular wheat? Would it not be optimal, nutritionally speaking, to still mill this sprouted wheat right before using it in a recipe?

  15. Todd says

    Does sprouting eliminate all or most of the antinutrients? I’m just wondering about sprouting in addition to other methods like soaking, souring, or sifting out bran.

  16. Isabel says

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts/advice/tips. I had no idea that grains need to be soaked & cooked for optimal nutrition. I usually eat raw muesli — rolled oats, barley etc, straight from the box, uncooked, with milk or yogurt. Do you advise against this?

  17. Ana says

    So I’m new to all of this and a bit confused. Is it better to sprout regular wheat or the Einkorn? Does freshly milled four have to be baked right away? i heard that somewhere.

  18. says

    I’m sprouting some wheat right now, but many of them don’t seem to be sprouting. A very small percentage are. Should I be concerned. Do you think I did something wrong?

    • Amelia Hohl says

      Also, what temp do I dehydrate them at in the dehydrator, or do I just let them sit and dry without turning it on?

  19. Leah says

    Ahhh, now I understand why my bread was always gummy when I let my wheat sprouts get longer. I started dehydrating them as soon as tiny sprouts appeared because the longer “tails” hung up in my grinder, and voila! No more gummy bread.

  20. Jenn says

    I regularly make flour from my soaked dehydrated grains, but can anyone tell me if they have success flaking the soaked dehydrated grains?

  21. says

    I am so excited to try this now! I just received my first grain mill as a hand me down from an aunt. Giant, heavy, hand crank…pretty rustic looking but FREE. Along with my dehydrator, I am ready! The journey begins!

  22. Claire says

    I sprout grain on a fairly large scale, to feed my cow and chickens. I use a paint strainer, a fine mesh bag available at the hardware store. I learned that pressure and dark help the sprouting process, and tying the bags provides the pressure. The shower in my half-bathroom is dedicated to sprouting, and I have attached a hose that can go in and water the whole mess in just a few minutes. I’ve tried several techniques and find these bags give me the best results. I will be adding a bag of my good human grade grains to the process to give this a try! Thanks for the instructions, and I hope someone finds my tip helpful.

  23. Heather says

    Jenny,

    I found this Q&A on the everythingkitchens.com website, which may be helpful to those grinding sprouted grains. I almost ruined my Nutrimill and now I know why:

    I saw the listing that said not to grind sprouted grains in the Nutrimill. Does this include grains that have been sprouted and then dried in a dehydrator? If the answer to the previous question is still no, what brand do you recommend for grinding sprouted, then dried, grains? Thanks.

    Unfortunately the Nutrimill is unable to mill sprouted grains even if the have been dehydrated. The reason for this is that sprouted grains contain so little moisture that they explode into such a fine powder that not all of the flour is ejected from the mulling chamber. The flower that is not ejected from the milling chamber just impacts the milling chamber causing the motor to seize. The Wonder Junior Hand Mill model 70-WJBASIC and the Wonder Junior Hand Grain Mill Deluxe model 70-WJDELUXE can be used for grinding sprouted/dehydrated grains.

    • Lee says

      My wife has been using 100 percent spelt flower for years we do not grind it any more it was very time consuming, now i soak 2 cups of grain for 24 hr put it in a cuisiart food processor add it to 10 cups of spelt flower along with yest and salt 1 cup apple juce and water then put it in the refer for24 hr, we think it makes the best bread

      Think you for your words of support for our way of eating bread

  24. says

    I just could not go away your website before suggesting that I actually loved the usual information a person provide to your guests?
    Is going to be back continuously in order to check up on new posts

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