The soaking of grains, nuts, and seeds is something I’ve only been doing for a couple of years now, gradually increasing the practice with time. There is a bit of controversy over whether it is necessary or not, and frankly I was a bit skeptical myself when I read Nourishing Traditions. At the time I was baking my own bread from home-ground wheat and I thought it was the healthiest bread one could possibly eat.
So when I read that my version of homemade bread may not be good for you, I was a little disappointed. But then, in the light of both history and science, it began to make sense to me as I thought about the process of bread making. Besides all of the research I have done on the subject, through a bit of reasoning and my own experience I am now convinced that soaking grains, nuts, and seeds is beneficial to our health.
My Own Reasoning
Speaking of bread, let me use that as an example of why soaking grains and nuts makes sense and is a traditional practice.
Bread is mentioned many times as part of the diet in the Bible. So it is not as though bread is some new-fangled food. But the ingredients and the process by which bread is made is probably much different now. Now we breed wheat to be a higher gluten-containing food (consequentially also more allergenic), we have tiny packets of yeast that make our bread rise in just an hour or two, and if you are buying store bought bread you will be hard pressed to find one without rancid vegetable oils or high fructose corn syrup.
I would venture to guess that bread made in Biblical times was made of something more similar to spelt (lower in gluten), the grains were ground freshly by hand, and the only other ingredients were water, salt, and some form of homemade leavening. This leavening I believe is the key difference, and it would probably resemble something similar to what we now know as a sourdough starter.
This starter would probably have been made by a mother or grandmother of the family and most likely only contained freshly ground grain and water. This concoction would trap the naturally occurring yeast in the air and then could be used to produce the carbon dioxide that would create a raised loaf of bread. The rising process, however, would take at least 12 hours, and perhaps even days. Through this rising time, and the acidity of the starter, by the time the dough was ready to be baked it most likely had a sour flavor, fewer carbohydrates, more nutrients, and little anti-nutrients.
The bread grains have been "soaked" in an acidic medium (the starter) for many hours at this point. So this is the soaking process that traditional bread went through.
Many of my blogging cohorts have written extensively on this topic, as it is an important one. I will be sharing my own experience with soaking later in the week but for the mean time here is a bit of recommended reading:
- Donielle :: Adventures in Soaking
- Kimi :: Soaking Grains, Part 1
- Kimi :: Soaking Grains, Part 2
- Kimi :: Soaking Nuts
- Anne Marie :: Why Soak and Sprout Grains
How about you… do you soak your grains, nuts, and seeds? Why or why not?