Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Sprouted Wheat Experiment

Now for the conclusion of the first phase of the wheat sprouting experiment. Lucky you, it will be in picture book style. So if I drone on too much you can skip ahead and look at the pictures. Of course you won't know completely what's going on but you'll get the general gist.

Last week, I filled a quart jar half full of wheat and filled it the remainder with water and set it on the counter over night. The next morning I drained off the liquid and throughout the next couple days I filled the jar and drained off the liquid three to four times a day but definitely not en sync with any set schedule. I am not a clock watcher, just too much pressure involved. LOL
 The wheat began sprouting nicely but soon filled their confined digs. Don't remember the sixties, well, digs means dwelling, apartment, etc. Excuse me a moment, "Note to self--- two cups of wheat soon crowds four cups of space." Yes, the confinement allows moisture to be trapped inside and increases the rate of sprouting so the wheat needs this type of digs.
 Due to this oversight, the sprouts soon started acting like my kids when they were little, their brand new shoes fit wonderfully with just a thumbs width to one and a half thumbs width of growth room and a nights sleep later, their toes were crowding the ends. Yup, once these sprouts started whoa!!, they took off growing rapidly. One evening the sprouts were pushing a 1/4 inch and the next morning they were over 1/2 inch.
I had to rush to get the dehydrator out before they grew to overflowing the jar. A tug of war then ensued as I tried to get the gnarled wheat outside the jar. It was a mass buddy system, everyone either wanted to stay squooshed in so tight as they were.

Next time, I'm using two jars -- divide and conquer. See that shiny spot glinting off to the right of the whole in the center of the tray? It's a plastic insert to keep the wheat from falling through the tray's wholes. Yes, I tore the buddy system apart with my bare hands.
The next step was to turn my dehydrator down to around 105 -110 Fahrenheit.  I needed to remove the moisture for grinding but not kill the nutrients. Not yet anyway for baking does that.
 The drying breeze caused the tentacles to shrivel and one woman on a blog said she didn't want to kill the sprouts so she just ground them up in a food processor and added them as an addition to her wheat bread. What did she think the food processor did to the poor guys and beyond that the oven? I guess it made her feel falsely better so not all was lost. 

I'd debate the whole die part as the tentacles will die but not necessarily the wheat. Think of the powdered cheese cultures you get in the mail and another experiment I want to try sometimes is drying sour dough into patties. The pioneers did so in order to be able to carry their beloved culture across the ocean on a ship or the plains in a wagon. This requires low heat so as to remove moisture without killing.
When I ground the dry sprouted wheat into flour, the stuff had a nice deep richly flecked color. Dark colors in food usually mean lots of good nutrients. It seemed to be even darker than freshly ground wheat kernels but maybe I am like the woman who didn't want to kill her sprouts and just thought it looked richer because that's what I wanted. Who knows, the power of suggestion can be quite effective at times. LOL

But wait a minute, back the horse up, I forgot a step. The wheat grinder wouldn't grind it because the wheat still had enough locked tentacles to insist on the buddy system through the grinder and the whole from the hopper into the blades just wasn't big enough for a crowd. The blender did the trick, a few pulsing strokes and no more buddy system. It separated them nicely.
 Trying a artisan bread method, I mixed the 2 1/2  cups of wheat flour, (which by the way equated the same as if the wheat wasn't sprouted making 2 cups of wheat equal 2 1/2 cups of flour,) 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt, a little more sugar than the 1 Tablespoon I usually use with white flour, 3/4 cup of white flour because I was short on wheat flour, and 1 1/2 teaspoons of yeast. The dough was a bit sticky just like it should be.
 And voila, 24 hours later I had a moist brick. Wait a minute, that wasn't what I was after. The dough rose pretty good after letting it sit overnight on the counter but during subsequent rises it lost ground instead of like white flour which rises more and more quickly with each rise. I need to delve into the science of this. Take away the bran and you've got a new kid on the block. Note to self, " Either use more yeast or better yet cut the raises to only two and maybe add just a little bit more yeast. And find out just what's going on by researching on the Internet." Unless of course one of you can tell me what I should of done differently. That's always the easier method and muchly appreciated.

What I was trying to do was achieve a richer flavor like repeated raises do with white flour. Instead, maybe I should of tried a Biga method to achieve that which would combine a bit of freshly ground wheat flour and sprouted wheat to make bread. Hmm... brain is a whirling now.

 Some loaves of bread that don't work out or most of the time just slices I know we won't get eaten before they go bad, are shredded and dried for stuffing. Others, I give to the chickens, which is where this loaf is going. Into them, into the eggs they produce, and then into our tummies. They need a nice boost of vitamins this winter time of year, just like us.   

Am I upset that my experiment didn't have a different outcome. I'd hoped for better but have learned in the past not to expect success at first. I just keep reminding myself of the scripture in the Bible that says, "In  all labor there is profit." I just had to think of the profit. The chickens will greatly benefit and I now know that I need to try adding a tiny bit more yeast and let the bread raise only twice and for a shorter period of time. Didn't know that bit of knowledge when I began. One gains little if one is easily discouraged.

One of these days, after I've researched a bit more and tried a few new things, I'll have awesome, highly nutritious sprouted wheat bread. Then I'm off to using other grains in the same manner.

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