When I took the nutrition program at CSNN, there was often a suggestion that we should soak our grains before cooking. Well, forget soaking. While this may be helpful to shorten the cook time, it does little from a health perspective. Fermenting grains is a far better way to go and has a number of benefits
- Increase nutrient-availability. Vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients will be easier to absorb
- The digestion process is started for protein, carbohydrates and fats
- Resistant starch found in grains, can be converted by beneficial bacteria to produce short chain fatty acids that help the intestinal wall lining, may prevent leaky gut and have numerous benefits for the rest of the body
- Chemicals in grains that may interfere with absorption, such as phytic acid, are reduced
- The cooking time is shortened – may take half the time
How easy is it to ferment grains? It is pretty simple. This is not about creating sourdough starter and turning it into bread. We are simply talking about a process that can be done overnight to create a better grain product
Grains will cook in half the time
Wheat, spelt and kamut berries, quinoa, millet, brown rice and oats can all be fermented. There is just one important step that must occur. If the grain is in its whole grain form, it has to be cracked or the good bacteria cannot access the inner part of the grain and the fermentation process does not take place.
If cracking the grains is not your thing, then look for grains that are flaked such as oats, kamut, millet, spelt, and quinoa. Steel cut oats work well for fermenting.
Once you have a grain you wish to ferment, the formula is simple: 1 cup grain, 1 cup spring water (or non-chlorinated) and 2 tbsp your choice of natural yogurt or kefir. Coconut yogurt can also be used. Place in a bowl and cover with a cloth or loose plastic wrap. Place is a warm spot and let it ferment for at least 7 hours. It can be fermented longer but the longer it ferments, the more likely it will have a sour taste. This does mean more benefit but it is not necessary. Do not ferment past 48 hours.
Grains can be fermented without any starter but by adding the yogurt or kefir, the process is sped up which is why just doing it overnight will yield benefits.
How can you tell if the yogurt is natural? It should just say milk products and bacteria culture or similar. No gums, starches or other chemicals. Commercial yogurts are only fermented for 1 hours and gums and starches are added to thicken it. Natural yogurt will be fermented for at least 4 hours and has a much higher good bacteria count.
Here is my recipe for fermented oats. It is loaded with prebiotic fibre from the oats, milk, banana and blueberries. By adding some yogurt or kefir to the milk, probiotics are also added but this is optional. The cinnamon aids digestion and helps stabilize blood sugar.
1/2 cup steel cut oats (rolled oats can be used but not quick-cooking oats)
1/2 cup spring water (or non-chlorinated water)
1-2 tbsp natural yogurt or kefir
To cook the oats:
1/4 tsp cinnamon
Pinch sea salt
3/4 cup spring water (or non-chlorinated water)*
1/2 chop of whole organic milk (can be mixed with 1 tbsp yogurt or kefir as an option) or milk of choice
1 tbsp pistachio nuts
1/4 cup blueberries
1 tbsp maple syrup
Place the oats, 1/2 cup water and yogurt or kefir in a bowl. Mix and cover with a cloth or plastic wrap placed loosely on top. Let sit in a warm place for at least 7 hours. To cook the oats, transfer the fermented oats to a saucepan and add the 3/4 cup water*, the cinnamon and sea salt. Bring to a boil and lower to simmer and cook for 5-10 minutes or until the water is absorbed. Transfer to a bowl and top with milk, pistachios, maple syrup, bananas and blueberries. Serve
*If using rolled oats, only a 1/2 cup water is needed