“The treadmill routine of the week is: washing, baking, ironing, fixing dried fruit, airing clothes, sewing, cleaning, baking and cleaning again. So it goes week after week. Eating and drinking, cooking and cleaning, scrubbing and scouring we go through life; and only lay down our implements at the verge of the gravel!…You bake, and boil, and fry, and stew; worry and toil, just as if the people’s principle business in this world was to learn how much they could eat-and eat it.” Jane G. Swissholm, Letters to Country Girls, 1853.
I love Helen Nearing’s book Simple Food for the Good Life. Filled with recipes and pithy sayings, I selected the above quote from Nearing’s book because it sums up my average day. I try not to find drudgery in homemaking and consider a skill, a privilege and a science. Our world has belittled the career of motherhood and domesticity. Most of us don’t teach these skills to our children and then don’t understand why our kids can’t take care of themselves, eat horribly and have homes in disarray when they are older. My three sons are ages 22, 18 and almost 16 and they know I’m on a mission to change that. They make a mama proud. God gave me three olive shoots for a reason and in general, I like how they’re sprouting up to be competent, Jesus loving, strong men who can also throw down.
But today I want to write about pre-soaking grains and seeds literally. I am a total neophyte in this arena. A caveat, please correct any of the information I am going to share as my desire is to contribute to the discussion. Add to the conversation also, I want to learn.
But first, did you know about 15 years ago, I had a funny flax seed story published in a book? It’s true! I shall soon share. It’s about Nate, brownies and a little bit of trickery on my part.
Do you want to hear a super creepy story in the interim? I had a friend whose boyfriend had his wisdom teeth extracted. He ate pizza a few days post-surgery. A few days after that, the guy went into the bathroom and screamed to his girlfriend to come right away. She rushed right in and there he was mouth agape. He said, “@*&@!!,” pointed and she spotted it. Back where one of the wisdom teeth had once lived, a tiny sprout had grown in its place! Can you imagine what it would have been like to pull a small plant out of a hole in your mouth! I would have Instagrammed it.
If you thought the only time you sprouted a seed was before you planted it or following dental surgery (!), here are some things to know.
Sprouting biologically activates the seed and makes the plant proteins, essential fatty acids, starches and vitamins bio-available.
Flax seeds are hard for our body to digest. They have natural enzyme inhibitors which prevent digestion. There is much to love about flax seeds – their crunch, color, flavor, even tactically, put your hand in a bag of flax seeds before and after you buy them from Whole Foods and you’ll notice their silky texture. Let’s just say I “know” someone who does this. You’d really like her. 😉
Despite a flax seed’s many attributes, though I don’t need a stomach ache. My family will usually try anything I make but if they have a bad reaction or don’t like it, I’m done. They won’t revisit it. Ask them about kale cake. Gigantic epic fail. If you’re sensitive or allergic to certain grains, soak your whole grains beforehand, in a salt brine, anywhere from 7-24 hours and it will probably lessen the symptoms. Oh, and don’t ever make kale cake. Ever.
Use warm water. It coaxes the enzymes out of their little crusty shell. Don’t soak them too long or they will grow bacteria. I think I did this for you, so trust me. Last year I made a batch of granola. I was a Soaky McSoaker and soaked the oats in a mixture of keifer, coconut oil, butter and water. Recipe said overnight but I pushed it a little. This resulted in a granola which brought facial expressions reminiscent of kale cake. I fed the trash can, not the Hubs or my OS that time. Duly noted.
SueGregg.com puts it this way, pre-soaking, “allows enzymes, lactobacilli and other helpful organisms to not only neutralize the phytic acid, but also to break down complex starches, irritating tannins and difficult-to-digest proteins including gluten.”
Here are some great websites with additional information. I’m giving them mad props for their discoveries and information. They’re not quite as humorous but super helpful.
and in case you’re interested in soap nuts, which are not edible but organic, biodegradable and incredible, 100% natural laundry soap, there’s always
Let’s be Soaky McSoakers, kk?
Love hearing your thoughts on soaking, Cindy! My counter is often loaded with bowls of soaking nuts and grains overnight….sometimes, there are so many that I need to label them so I don’t forget what they are for! (e.g., the soaking whole wheat for the pancakes vs. the soaking wheat for the banana bread, etc.). I try to stack my soaking bowls on and around the dehydrator when it’s running, because the extra warmth is good for the soak, especially during the winter when the house is kind of chilly.
Thanks Tara! It sounds like you have one of the busiest and healthiest kitchens around. So do you soak the wheat berries and then just cook with them? I made my own flour so how would that work? You truly have made homemaking a craft, bless you!
Thanks, sweet friend. I’m not an expert, so I haven’t done soaked wheat berries yet. I grind them first, then soak them overnight. I try to use recipes that call for soaking whole wheat flour, because it’s simpler that way. The batter tends to be thicker and sometimes harder to mix, and I haven’t really tried to adjust a regular recipe to allow for pre-soaking. Did I mention I also soak my nuts, then dehydrate them – “crispy nuts” are a big favorite around here. Kids love to make their own trail mix, as well as use them for toppings with oatmeal or yogurt.