Saturday, October 17, 2009

Are My Wheat Berries Sprouting or are they DROWNED??!!

I recieved a comment from someone about the very real chance that my wheat berry sprouts are in fact drowned and not sprouted. This greatly concerned me so I decided to do a test on the sprouts. The gentlemen informed me that most of my berries would be drowned and not sprouted and described breifly a test called the Falling Numbers Test. He is an excerpt of his comment posted here: "...of utmost importance, they ( conduct the falling number test to determine that the grain has been sprouted and not drown...all steps that cannot be done in a home operation. Based on convention wisdom about how to sprout grains, most of the grain is being drown and not sprouted. Now that I know, I use Essential Eating sprouted flours exclusively for all the reasons you mention plus it is the most safe, sanitary and consistent sprouted flour with amazing baking characteristics available."

In the photo above are the results of my sprouting test. I am conducting my sprouting test on Prarie Gold, hard white spring wheat, which I purchased directly from Wheat Montana. This picture was taken 24 hours of sprouting. I soaked the berries first for 10 hours. Upon examination, I could not find any berries that had not sprouted.
I went to the website for the Canadian Grain Commission where I found a photos and descriptions of sprout damage. I closely examined 10 my unsprouted berries and compared them to the photos on the site. I found no damaged.
I feel confident, as a result of my testing, that my wheat berries are indeed sprouting and are not drowned.
follow up: I posted my question about drowned vrs. sprouted wheat berries on The Fresh Loaf website: Are My Sprouts DROWNED or sprouted? Here is an exerpt from the first response to my post: "People have been sprouting grains at home with great success much longer than your comment maker has been alive. Your sprouted grains look perfect to me".
I think this put the issue to rest.


  1. Wow Valerie, I didn't mean to set off such a reaction, but research is always good. So sad that blogging can sometimes be so conparmentalized that the whole picture (or tone) is not evident. Sorry. What I was trying to convey is that in my home sprouting experience my flour was not consistent and unless I checked every grain, which wasn't going to happen, I had no way of knowing if the grain was drown or sprouted. Also, to produce sprouted flour in a larger volume (for those who will never sprout at home) there are some scale issues that come into play. When I buy a sprouted flour I want to know that it is consistently sprouted correctly with some assurances that it is actally sprouted. The Falling Number test is the only way to do that. So I guess my point was that if you don't want to sprout at home, the people at Essential Eating are producing great sprouted flours and testng the flour whereas other sprouters are not. Thanks for your efforts.

  2. Carl, I was very concerned about my operation and wanted to know what was going on. I am glad that you brought up this topic as it provided me inspiration to test the facts and post them for others to learn from. Please read my post and responses at the freshloaf linked above for some additional perspective on this issue and some very informative answers.

    If you where having problems (issues with consistency) as you describe perhaps you grain source was poor or unreliable.

    I have been sprouting a gallon of sprouts weekly since april and baking 2 loaves per week. The bread seems to be very consistent overall. I am pretty confident that any variation in my bread is a result of proofing issues ie timming, humidity & temp.

    It seemed in your original comment that you were promoting a product at the expense of discouraging people to pursue trying this at home. I, personally, try not to buy processed foods - to me flour is processed regardless of who is doing it or how carefully they are doing it, I prefer to start with raw ingredients and do my own processing. It is an ethic - I call it NOBARCODES!

    As a result of my experiment I am now confident that:

    1. home sprouting is viable for the home baker (ie smaller batches)
    2. that close to 100% of my berries are sprouting perfectly
    3. that my berries are not damaged.

  3. Carl, I did continue to sprout my wheat berries after the photograph was taken. I examined the sprouts carefully, now 3 days sprouted, and posted the results:

    I am curious to know what you think of the final count. Valerie