I've found that the easiest and least expensive method for traditionally preparing wheat flour is soaking. The problem with soaking is that you have plan ahead. If you want soaked pancakes tomorrow, you have to soaked the flour tonight. If you put pancakes on the menu and soaking slips your mind before bed, you'll have three disappointed boys at breakfast in the morning. Ask me how I know.
For leavening bread, nothing beats souring wheat flour and baking it into delicious and crusty sourdough loaves. Still, it takes planning ahead and having a successful starter.
In addition to being time consuming, soaking and souring leave baked goods with, well, a sour taste. Now, in certain recipes that sour taste is perfectly pleasant and provides a wonderfully well-rounded flavor. In other recipes, it takes an acquired taste to appreciate.
My boys eat and enjoy many soaked flour recipes, but sometimes they long for the flavor of un-soaked baked goods. That's where sprouted flour comes in handy.
Sprouted flour can be expensive and difficult to source, so sprouting and grinding your own flour at home is a great way to save money on a nutritious ingredient.
To sprout your own flour, you need wheat berries. I like soft winter wheat. I buy organic soft winter wheat in bulk at the health food store. It costs about $1.50 per pound.
The first step to sprouting wheat berries is to soak the wheat berries in water for 12 hours. I cover the jar to keep the light out.
After 12 hours, rinse the wheat berries and place them in a colander. Put the colander over a bowl so that air can circulate around the berries. Cover and let them sit for 12 hours.
After another 12 hours, I usually find that my wheat berries are sufficiently sprouted. I think that hard red wheat takes longer. The temperature also contributes to a longer or shorter sprouting. Warmer temps make for faster sprouting; colder make for slower.
The wheat berries will look like this as they begin to sprout:
When the wheat berries look like this they are ready to dehydrate:
Wheat berries must be dehydrated before they can be ground into flour properly. Wet wheat berries will not grind and might clog a grain mill.
To dehydrate sprouted wheat berries, spread them on a baking sheet and put them in an oven set to 150 degrees Fahrenheit.
If your oven only lowers to 170 degrees, leave the oven door open. Now, I've heard that it can take up to 24 hours to fully dehydrate sprouted wheat berries, but in my experience it doesn't take longer than 3-4 hours.
Once the wheat berries are completely dried, they are ready to grind. Since wheat begins to lose its nutrients once it is ground, freeze the dried, sprouted wheat berries until you are ready to grind and use them. If you'll be using them right away, go ahead and grind away!
You can purchase a grain mill, but the food processor works, too. For small batches, a coffee grinder works even better than the food processor. In fact, the coffee grinder is my grain grinder of choice!
No matter how you grind your sprouted wheat flour, it is a wonderfully nutritious ingredient for your favorite real food baked goods. Combined with a natural sweetener, the nutty, wholesome flavor of sprouted flour can't be beat for cakes and cookies. Sprouted wheat berries are a delicious, crispy addition to trail mixes, as well.
What is your favorite use for sprouted wheat flour?
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