'Ding-ding' time for sprouted grains

by Jeff Gelski
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Chef Peter Reinhart wrote about sprouted grains, whole grains and heirloom flours in the book “Bread Revolution.”

CHICAGO — The author of “Bread Revolution” heard that Bay State Milling Co., Quincy, Mass., had become involved in sprouted grains. Then news surfaced of activity on the part of another large milling company, Denver-based Ardent Mills.

“For me, that was like the `ding-ding’ moment,” said Peter Reinhart, a chef at Johnson & Wales University in Charlotte, N.C. “It’s happening.”

Flour made from sprouted grains, popular in the organic marketplace, is achieving a larger commercial presence, he said in a March 3 presentation at the American Society of Baking’s BakingTech 2015 in Chicago. In “Bread Revolution,” which was published last year, Mr. Reinhart explains techniques for working with sprouted grains, whole grains and heirloom flours.

Wheat and bread recently have taken hits from consumers complaining about gluten sensitivity and from such books as “Wheat Belly,” he said in his March 3 presentation.

“Wheat is in the bull’s-eye and yet, if you like bread, you love wheat,” Mr. Reinhart said. “Wheat is delicious.”

Flour made from sprouted grains is popular in the organic market.

He said flour made from sprouted grains may improve the image of wheat, other grains and bread. Sprouting grains enhances their nutrients and makes them more digestible, he said. Sprouted red wheat starts at a high protein level. Most of the flavor is developed during the sprouting process, he said.

“I believe sprouting the grains makes them taste better,” Mr. Reinhart said.

For an example, he said the corn flavor comes through more in corn bread made with flour from sprouted grains. Mr. Reinhardt had corn bread and wheat bread with sprouted flour available for taste-testing March 3.

Flour made from sprouted grains may be used in corn bread and wheat bread.

Sprouting grains involves soaking them and letting them germinate. Stopping the sprouting at the right time is crucial.

“We are arresting the sprouting process as soon as we see a sprout come out,” Mr. Reinhart said.

In bread, the ideal time might be when the sprout starts to split. If the sprouting goes further, enzymes may break starches down into sugar, thus reducing the amount of starch in the bread and creating a more sweet and vegetable-like product.

Once sprouted and dried, the grains are dry and hungry for water. While the hydration rate for conventional dough might be 75%, the rate for dough with sprouted grains might reach 90%, he said.
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