soaking grains how to soak grains

What you need to know: Soaking grains is a traditional method of food preparation. Once widely used throughout cultures of the world, this practice has now been mostly lost. It involves submerging the grains in warm filtered water and an acid medium in order to make them easier to digest and their nutrition more available. It’s an ancient practice used for all grains including wheat, buckwheat groats, farro, oats, kamut, quinoa, millet, bulgur, rice, amaranth and barley.

Why you should try it: By nature, grains contain anti-nutrients called phytates, or phytic acid, that block the absorption of key minerals. They bind to important minerals, such as zinc, magnesium and iron, which can lead to mineral deficiencies, and poor bone, teeth and immune health. While cooking the grains does break down phytates to a degree, it’s not enough to prevent them from influencing mineral levels. That is why soaking grains is such an important step in grain preparation. Soaking grains before cooking activates an enzyme called phytase. Phytase effectively reduces the phytic acid content of the grain so that the minerals are available and easy to absorb.

Let’s make some: Soaking grains is an easy process, but must be planned ahead of time. Take your chosen grain and add to a bowl. Add enough warm water to cover the grain, and then add your chosen acid medium (about one teaspoon of acid to one cup of water). There are quite a few acid mediums to choose from, both dairy and dairy-free. Dairy options include whey, cultured buttermilk, raw yogurt or kefir. Non-dairy options include lemon juice, non-dairy kefir, water, coconut water, or unpasteurized apple cider vinegar. Once the acid is added, cover the bowl and soak between 12-24 hours. Once ready to cook, rinse the grain thoroughly, and cook as normal.

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  1. Wow! Who knew? Should the grains be left to soak at room temperature, or be refrigerated?
    Thanks for a great article!

    Jenny | 02.23.2015 | Reply
    • Hi Jenny, you can leave the grains on the counter at room temperature. You may want to cover though.

      Lauren Felts CN | 02.25.2015 | Reply
    • Jenny, if you are using dairy as your acid source, it would be best to put it in the fridge to prevent spoilage/ microbial growth. 🙂

      Alexandra | 02.26.2015 | Reply
  2. This is a step I need to start taking

    Teresa | 02.25.2015 | Reply
  3. I’m confused as to why buckwheat, quinoa, sesame and chia seeds are shown in an article about grains..?
    Also confused as to why you would rinse chia seeds after soaking them. I’ve never soaked them with an acid but I imagine they would still absorb most of the liquid and become a gel (which would be very difficult to rinse)

    anna | 02.27.2015 | Reply
  4. I use a tablespoon of chia seeds in my shake each morning
    I’ve never soaked or rinse them
    How can this be done as once wet the expand and stick to everything. Does this mean they’re harmful unrinsed ??

    mara dottore | 01.21.2017 | Reply

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