Sprouted grains are so HOT right now. The demand for sprouted grains and bread products has been gaining some serious traction. Consumers are looking for solutions to their food intolerances, but the demand has grown to include a wider audience searching for easily-digestible, healthy bread products. Sales are expected to jump from $30 million this year to $250 million by 2018.
For bakers, sprouted grains and legumes are new products to experiment and improve with. The sprouting process makes whole grain breads more palpable with a longer shelf life. The chemical process of turning starch into sugar also helps feed the yeast , saving time during the fermentation process.
The nutrition of sprouted grains
Perhaps the biggest selling point on the sprouting trend has been health benefits. When grains are sprouted—by soaking and rinsing the seeds to germinate—the outer shell of the grain is cracked. This makes it easier for the human body to digest and absorb nutrients. The enzyme phytase breaks down phytic acid, which binds with minerals and reduces their absorption in the small intestine. Sprouting increases phytase activity, which increases bioavailability of some minerals.
However, the heat of the milling and baking process diminishes some of the effect and enzyme activity caused by sprouting. Some nutritionists say the difference is not a significantly larger increase compared to un-sprouted grains for those not struggling with digestibility or food intolerances.
Another health benefit in sprouting is lower sugar portions when baking. A 100% whole grain flour often leaves products with a bitter taste. However, a sprouted whole grain flour adds a natural sweetness and flavor, reducing the need for added sugar, which is welcomed by diabetics and anyone who wants less sugar intake.
With sprouting, there is the risk of food borne illness, as the heat and time of the sprouting process create ideal conditions for bacteria growth. Sprouting your own grains in ideal, observed conditions is safe, yet contamination is still a possibility. There are currently no FDA requirements on sprouting or what constitutes a “sprout.” However, the agency does provide guidelines to reduce the risk of contamination, including production, treatment, condition, storage and transportation.
Malting is often lumped in the same category of sprouting. However the two are slightly different—in creation and use. Malting essentially begins the same, yet the sprouting process lasts longer. Mashes are generally used in products such as beer. Although they could be used in a bread product, less should be used than a sprouted grain or flour.
Want to catch on with this trend, yet not to deal with the purchase of soak tanks or the implications of food safety issues? I’ve talked with suppliers who offer sprouted flour and grains products for the wholesale baker. They are excited about their healthy alternative to whole wheat flours that are adding benefits to the finished product. Here are a few options:
Central Milling Company
Product: Organic and Conventional Living Sprouted Grain
Central Milling Company offers 7 organic and 2 conventional sprouted grain products for bakeries. Rather than milling the sprouts into flour, the product comes from fresh ingredients. After the grains are sprouted and pass a natural falling number test—assuring the sprouting is at an optimal point—they run through a grinding process while still wet, stopping the sprouting. The sprouts are then put into vacuumed sealed bags and flash-frozen. The baker thaws out the product, measured to grain weight. The process keeps the grain from loosing minerals in the dehydrating or heating stages milled flour undergoes.
The whole sprouted grain produces a textural distance—where you can see the grain in the bread—and takes on a natural sweetness. For more information, contact Nicky Giusto.
King Arthur Flour
Product: King Arthur Organic Sprouted Whole Wheat Flour and 100% Organic Super Sprout Whole Grain Wheat Flour
King Arthur Flour, the oldest flour company in the U.S., does not bleach or bromate its flour. They offer two sprouted flours for bakeries—a super sprout whole grain and a sprouted 5 ancient grains—both 100 percent organic. The sprouted flours are consistent and yield a moist, tender loaf with a sweet and nutty taste.
The ancient grains variety—a blend of buckwheat, sorghum, millet, amaranth and quinoa—is recommended for European crusty breads, rye breads, and thin crust pizza dough. The other variety, milled from red wheat, provides a smoother, well-rounded wheat flavor. Both flours boast a creamy color and fine texture. The sprouting process provides the same natural value with a lighter taste than regular flour made with whole grains. For more contact Jeffrey Hamelman.
Product: Essential Eating Sprouted Flour
Essential Eating was a pioneering force for commercially sprouted flour 16 years ago, creating an authentic and tested process to make sure their product was supplied in large quantities and at a cost-effective price. Founder Janie Quinn created all-purpose flour that could be substituted one-for-one in place of regular flour. Their sprouting is based on research of a time before the Industrial Revolution when all grains were sprouted. Essential Eating tests go beyond a simple visual one to make sure sprouts reach the right stage.
Their 100 % whole grain product produces the same quality and texture of un-sprouted flour, yet enhances the product with less bitterness and a full whole grain serving. Along with wholesale products, Essential Eating sells sprouted flour products as well—bread, chocolate chip cookies and pretzel puffs that are 100% organic and Kosher. Their website and publications offer research and recipes for sprouted flour. For more information, contact Kate Collins.
Bay State Milling
Product: Red Spring Wheat
Bay State Milling has been in the wheat industry for 150 years, with sprouting as part of the foundation. Their sprouted wheat is milled into whole wheat flour, offered as organic or conventional. Their conventional brand undergoes a steal cut process.
Bay state milling has placed a tremendous effort towards perfecting the sprouting process. They have found the perfect sprouting point before the grain loses too much starch. Excess loss of starch causes a collapse of the bread in the baking process. They have produced sprouted flour that creates quality bread products at an affordable price. The added sweetness of the product also reduces the need for sugar. For more information contact Colleen Zammer.
Product: 45 different varieties
With the biggest variety of sprouted products—45 different sprouted grains and legumes—Healthy Flour has come a long way from its start 10 years ago. Founder Peggy Sutton started researching the benefits of sprouting and began making sprouts in her kitchen with mason jars. From there, the family went on to build a commercial kitchen at the farm and expanded the business to 35 employees.
Healthy Flour carefully oversees the sprouting process, stopping the sprouts at different times for different grains to achieve the optimal amount of shell for each variety. During the entire month of July, Healthy Flour will be having a sale with a percentage off all products. For more information contact Farra Soley.
Garden Spot Foods
Product: PureLiving and Shiloh Farms’ Sprouted Spring Wheat Flour and Sprouted Spring Spelt Flour
Garden Spot Foods offers a new, progressive, in-house brand of ten sprouted flours. All are certified organic, gluten free (under 20 ppm) and Kosher. The PureLiving Sprouted Flours are among the only such certified sprouted flours on the market. The flours add extra nutrients and flavor for whatever bread product they are baked into.
Garden Spot Foods is parent company to Shiloh Farms, which played an establishing role in organic standards during the 1970s. Shiloh Farms mills organic 100% whole grain hard red spring wheat berries and organic sprouted 100% whole grain spelt berries for their two products with a mild, nutty flavor. The sprouted wheat and spelt flours are both cup for cup substitutions for any regular flour and work well in any recipe.
Both product lines flours are gently dried and measured while milled to make sure the sprouting process creates nutritious, whole grain flour. For more information, please contact Beth Ann Shirkat.
Product: Wide variety of sprouted grains and pulses in various forms.
InfraReady offers both sprouted grains (varieties of wheat, barley, rye and rice) and pulses (peas, beans, and lentils) to customers all over the world. Their sprouting process uses a unique infrared and precooking technology to ensure a consistent quality and baking performance, as well as to help eliminate bacteria growth.
After the grain or pulse is sprouted and heat treated, InfraReady sells their products in flake, meal, flour, or whole form—many custom designed products. A cracked sprouted 10 grain blend is also offered, created with a mix of cracked grains and seeds. It is certified Kosher, and has no additives or preservatives. The host of options can be used in a variety of products, such as breads, bagels, muffins, crackers, tortillas, extruded snacks, and more. For more information, contact Mark Pickard.