Sprouted grains offer the baking industry an opportunity to balance nutrition and taste while reaping some production benefits as well. That’s exactly the opportunity Bay State Milling, Quincy, MA, wanted to take advantage of with its BeneGrain line of sprouted flours.  

“Bay State’s goal is always to make the end product more appealing to the consumer, and while whole wheat can have a bitter flavor, sprouted wheat’s sweeter taste makes it more appealing,” said Donna Reiser, marketing, communications manager, Bay State Milling. The BeneGrain line features three flours: sprouted wheat, sprouted brown rice and, most recently, sprouted chia.

The germ, endosperm and bran of a whole grain contain the nutrients necessary for a new plant. Once a whole grain starts sprouting, enzyme activity transforms the endosperm’s starch to simpler molecules that can be easier to digest, for the new plant and also for people. Sprouted grains also improve the bio-availability of some vitamins and minerals. However, the sprouting process is tricky. Too much moisture and the grain will drown or even ferment and rot. If left to sprout for too long, the seed grows too much and loses its digestibility. The puzzle Bay State Milling had to solve was figuring out just how sprouted is sprouted enough. 

This isn’t Bay State Milling’s first foray into sprouted grains. The company offered sprouted wheat flour before, but according to Ms. Reiser, Bay State thought it could do better. The sprouting process was taken back to the table and perfected to gain more consistency in the germination process. By exerting more control over it, Bay State Milling created flour that delivers a boost of nutrition with a less bitter, slightly sweeter taste than whole wheat. The flour improves volume naturally and, as an added bonus, reduces proof times. The BeneGrain Sprouted Wheat Flour is milled from hard red spring wheat and is available in whole wheat flour and steel cut varieties, both conventional and organic-certified.

“We are confident that we have developed a sprouted wheat flour that will deliver convenience, consistency and improved flavor balance to the marketplace,” said Colleen Zammer, director of product marketing.

While the wheat is sprouted using a conventional malting method, Bay State Milling uses steam to sprout the brown rice for its sprouted rice flour. Immersing the rice in water, as is done with wheat, can cause the bran portion of the rice to crack. Steam is gentler on the rice. Bay State Milling’s sprouted rice flour has the same function and enzyme activity as conventional rice flour, making it an easy replacement in cracker and snack applications that typically use rice flour.

At this year’s Institute of Food Technologists Expo, Bay State Milling introduced its third product in the BeneGrain line: chia flour, made with conventional chia seeds. Through a partnership with Agropur, Bay State Milling made a tortilla from chia flour, affectionately called the “torchia.”

The BeneGrain sprouted quinoa, amaranth, chia and flax will all be commercially available this month. For more information on Bay State Milling’s BeneGrain flours and other products, visit www.baystatemilling.com.