Sprouting grains is economical, ecological, simple, and tasty! There is very little hands-on time, and the result is a highly nutritious, “living” food. Sprouting, or germinating, allows enzymes in the grains to become active and create a host of nutritional changes:
- Proteins are converted into free amino acids
- Starches change into simple plant sugars
- Minerals combine in a way that increases their assimilation
- Vitamin content increases from 3 to 12 times
Wheat sprouts, in particular, contain four times more folic acid and six times more vitamin C than unsprouted wheat.
I will be specifically concentrating on wheat sprouts in this post in order to use them for Essene Bread. Red Winter Wheat Berries are the best choice for sprouting. Be sure that your grains are not sprayed with chemicals or dyed. Use only grains that are certified to be edible. Also, make sure your grains have no traces of mold, as this will get out of control during the sprouting process, and will make you sick. Always be sure your sprouting container is clean (I always wash mine with hot soapy water when I’m finished sprouting grains in it) to prevent any carryover of molds that may have started to grow from the previous sprouting.
Essene Bread is so easy and nutritious that it’s the only kind I make. It has a wonderful sweet, nutty flavor, and it’s chewy texture is reminiscent of an english muffin. In fact, I use these for everything an english muffin can be used for…which is pretty much anything!
To sprout the Wheat Berries:
2 c. Hard Red Winter Wheat Berries
Large glass jar (I use a 2 quart Ball jar)
Cheesecloth or plastic lid with holes in it
Add 2 c. Wheat Berries to the glass jar and cover with two layers of cheesecloth, or a plastic lid with holes in it.
Add warm water, swirl it around to clean the seeds, then pour it out.
Refill with double the amount of warm water as there are seeds.
Place in a dark cabinet, or cover with a towel, and let it soak overnight.
Pour off the soak water.
Turn the jar to spread out the seed.
Place drained jar in a dark place at an angle to allow any extra water to drain out.
Leave for 12 hours, then rinse the sprouts with cool water, and drain again.
Repeat until the sprouts have “tails” that are twice as long as the berries and have a sweet taste (taste them!). It usually takes 2-3 days to accomplish this.
The sprouts should be ready in the evening, so complete the final rinsing and let them dry overnight. The jar will be packed full of sprouts!
Now that the berries are sprouted and drained (there will still be some moisture, which is needed to keep the dough moist), grind them to make the dough. You may use a meat grinder, food processor, or hand-cranked grain mill. I use my meat grinder attachment on my KitchenAid stand mixer.
The resulting dough will be juicy, sticky, mottled light and dark, and have the consistency of raw hamburger.
Lightly oil your hands, or wet them with water, and knead the dough within the bowl for about one minute. Keep repeatedly folding it over on itself, wetting your hands if the dough gets too sticky.
Cover a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
Using wet hands, take a small amount of dough and place it on the parchment paper.
Flatten to to approximately 1 1/2 inches.
Preheat the oven to 250 degrees Fahrenheit.
Bake for 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 hours until the outside is firm, not hard (the low temperature, long term baking preserves most of the nutrients from heat). The bread will spring back slightly after gently touching. The bottom of the bread will seem a bit sticky, but that’s fine.
Allow the bread to cool on wire racks and then store in sealed plastic bags. The bread will become softer and sweeter with time.
The bread can be kept at room temperature for three to four days, or refrigerated for up to four weeks!
I have a continual batch of wheat berries sprouting so that I don’t run out of bread. I can’t get enough of it!