Our ancestors mashed sprouted wheat berries to make some of the earliest forms of unleavened bread and it’s even referred to in religious texts. Egyptians made sprouted bread as early as 1350 BC and their dry climate meant sprouting couldn’t happen accidentally during harvest. In neolithic China, sprouted millet, rice, wheat and barley (nieh) were used to make alcohol. Evidence of soaking and sprouting has also been found from ancient Africa, Australia, Europe, India, South America and the Middle East. This collective wisdom lasted for centuries but is much less common today.
Before modern agriculture, crops often sprouted naturally from sitting in fields and being exposed to the elements after collection. Mechanization meant sprouting essentially disappeared from our diets.
Sprouting brings ancient cultural practices alive and narrows the gap between modern food choices and traditional preparation techniques. Sprouting is resurging as food prepared in slow, thoughtful and traditional ways continues to gain traction.
For many people, grains and beans cause digestive discomfort. It is widely recognized that pre-soaking beans can help ease the discomfort, but what you may not realize is soaking and sprouting grains has the same affect.
The sprouting process naturally activates starch, protein and lipid degrading enzymes that “pre-digest” a grain, seed or pulse. The seed uses dense protein and complex carbohydrates as fuel to grow, converting them to simpler amino acid and glucose molecules. This means that some enzymes our bodies use to break down the seed have already been applied, and less work for our digestive system is always a good thing!
Sprouting does not remove gluten but for some people who have discomfort digesting wheat products, the sprouting process may aid in their ability to digest and enjoy.
Whole grains are “whole” when they have their bran, germ and endosperm, which contain the seed’s essential vitamins and minerals like protein, fibre, iron, magnesium, B vitamins and antioxidants. There are no shortcuts when sprouting. A seed must be whole for it to sprout, so sprouted grains are inherently whole grain.
While whole grains, seeds and beans are a good source of nutrition, they also contain phytic acid, an enzyme that inhibits our digestive systems from fully absorbing the seed’s nutrients. The sprouting process reduces phytic acid, but how much depends on the seed and sprouting time. For example, chickpeas sprouted for 48 hours showed a 67% decrease. Sprouting converts the nutrients that are already present in the seed into a more bioavailable form for our bodies.
We are proudly certified organic for every product, so each seed is grown and sprouted naturally and sustainably. Sprouting is a form of positive processing where nothing is removed and only water is added. This transforms it’s nutrient profile and allows your body to get the most from whole, natural foods.
Cooking whole grains, seeds and pulses is often inconvenient and time consuming. Sprouting reduces cook time, in most cases by half, making preparation much quicker and easier. Soaking is already part of the sprouting process, so no pre-soaking for pulses is required, which means no thinking ahead!
Sprouting also stabilizes the natural oils in wheat and flax, which extends their shelf life (including slowing the staling rate of sprouted wheat bread). This makes sprouted wheat a practical, user-friendly choice for bakers.
You may hesitate to try sprouted grains because you’re not sure how or what to cook, but you can easily incorporate sprouted whole grains and pulses into your diet in all the same ways you would use their unsprouted counterparts.
Sprouting enhances natural flavours and textures of grains, seeds and pulses, resulting in richer, more complex tastes and delightful textures.
The sprouting process helps rid seeds of naturally occurring saponin, neutralizing bitterness. It also converts complex starch into simple sugars, making sprouted grains taste sweeter (though their glycemic index is low). Some grains and seeds like rice and buckwheat develop a lighter, nuttier and more earthy flavour.
Many structural changes occur during the sprouting process that affect the texture of grains, seeds and pulses. Grains like buckwheat and millet become light and crunchy and are perfect for granolas, while sprouted brown rice has a lovely delicate texture and sprouted farro, wheat berries and hulless oats are hearty. Sprouted pulses become tender and buttery and are wonderful whole or puréed.
When people think of whole grains in baked goods, they tend to think of a heavy dense texture. We specifically sprout and finely mill our sprouted whole grain flours to produce light, soft, fluffy, moist baked goods.
Although it’s been around for thousands of years, the sprouting process and how it relates to our digestion and health is so complex that we don’t yet understand it fully. New research is constantly emerging and more is still needed, which is why we are in partnership with universities to further our understanding of all the benefits that sprouting can offer.
To learn more about sprouting, check out our resources section.