Sprouted Grain Bread: Anything To It?
My local grocery store sells sprouted wheat bread for twice the cost of standard whole wheat bread. My wheat farmer friend laughs, and says that grain that gets wet starts to sprout, and that the farmer has to sell it for a deep discount at the elevator. The nutrients go into the sprout, which falls off as the grain is moved, and therefore it's used as cattle feed.
My friend is a very intelligent man, and I take his opinions very seriously — especially in this case because he has grown wheat for decades. I am uninterested in vague testimonials, but AM interested in hearing from people who know what they are talking about, both in the underlying biology and how sprouted wheat works in the flour-making process.
The descriptions I've read imply that the purveyors of sprouted grain bread are buying regular unsprouted wheat and sprouting it later, under different conditions. If so, why would it matter? I will appreciate intelligent answers and will have followup questions if this winds up being a useful discussion. Many thanks in advance.
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Pride? Our state fair has a wheat judging competition every year. It is held across from a booth where I often volunteer, so I have watched. They judge shape, color, aroma, uniformity, moisture content, something called conformance to variety, and some other things I don't recall. Every farmer there thought theirs was the best.
I would assume the millers have a similar competition to judge flour.
This is a great exchange, a real and welcome departure from the typically and sadly degraded social media discourse. I am driven to know what I'm talking about, so these exchanges have motivated me to learn a lot more about flour than I knew a week ago.
My reading shows that King Arthur has a strong reputation among home bakers. Dakota Maid is highly regarded by those familiar with it, and seems to be a good deal cheaper too. I remain unpersuaded about sprouted wheat bread, but perhaps with a tiny bit less disdain than before. I still wonder just "how sprouted" that wheat actually is. If people want to pay 31-1/2 cents an ounce rather than 11-2/3 cents for sprouted wheat bread, well, I could easily make a list of products that cost a lot more while delivering benefits that I regard as trivial or illusory — including many of my own purchases.
But hey, if people weren't paying way too much for little or nothing extra, the American economy would surely collapse. 😀
Yup, free enterprise. The only time I object strenuously is when the ads prey on the sick and desperate. Ee always taught our kids to have a healthy skepticism for puffery. Now I often find myself trying to deliver the same message here.
I was talking to my wheat farmer friend a couple hours ago. I had sent him the link to this thread, and he was enjoying it. Then his phone died, so he couldn't participate. He is way, way up there on the intellectual totem pole, and told me some interesting and pertinent things. I eagerly await his appearance here when he gets back online. The guy will forget more than I will ever know about wheat and flour.
Among other things, he wonders how this "deliberately sprouted" grain that's used in spouted wheat bread is processed at the mill, and scoffs at the nutrition claims for "deliberately sprouted" grain. The sprouted stuff cannot contain more nutrients than unsprouted, he says, because once the grain is harvested there's no soil from which to draw nutrients. The nutrients in the berry go into the flour; if it sprouts, some go into the sprout and then into the flour when milled. If it's unsprouted, the same nutrients still go into the flour. He knows it in much greater detail than I do.
good to know. I've wondered about this. but is it easier digested because it's sprouted?
Maybe? Theoretically some of the protein is converted to an easier to digest form. However, without knowing exactly how much of the grain is sprouted, and what stage of germination, it's impossible to say.
That's pretty much the topic of this discussion, and this is unregulated and unstudied. Also there is no definition or inspection process for sprouted wheat flour.
I don't believe that the sprouted wheat has more nutrients. The claims (supported by the studies cited) are that nutrients are more available to the consumer, just as they would be to the developing plant, during the process.
What I would love for you to find is a side by side comparison of all the nutrients in whole grain flour, sprouted wheat flour and sprouted wheat.
Fiber is at the heart of digestibilty in bread and lots of other food. Wheat-wise, the fiber's in the bran, which gets removed during milling then added back for whole wheat flour. Therefore any fiber/digestability difference would be between bread made from whole wheat flour and bread made from enriched white flour.
On the nutrient side, it's guesswork for now. I'll be very surprised if there are any nutritive differences between unsprouted and sprouted whole wheat. If such differences do exist, I think they might favor unsprouted because sprouting takes some energy. While the plant's growing, that energy would come from soil nutrients and the sun, but after harvest it would come from the nutrients in the germ. That's my guess.
I don't think the difference is big. I found something that compared "unintentionally" sprouted wheat to unsprouted by way of evaluating sprouted as cattle feed. I recall it saying that sprouted wheat cattle feed is slightly less nutritious than unsprouted, but that the difference was immaterial. (My guess is that the slight difference was because of the energy issue I just mentioned, but it's only a guess.) In any case, I return to the point I've made a few times: If you grind a wheat kernel into a fine powder (a/k/a "flour"), how could the growth of a stub off of that kernel that had no source of nutrients while the stub grew ADD nutrients? Where did those extra nutrients come from?
The argument from the sprouted wheat believers is that the nutrients in the sprout are more available than the nutrients in the berry. Maybe so, but I've yet to see the evidence, and at the very least the logic is open to challenge.