You can’t exactly say that grains are very popular these days. It’s not just because of intolerance to gluten but also because those nice whole grains like wheat or rye are meant to remain intact until they reach the ground and are able to grow into a plant. They are meant to survive the encounter with possible predator who could consider them as food and therefore grains are enveloped in substances that discourage ingestion and make digestion problematic. This is why we rehydrate whole grains, to get those toxins to dissolve in water and the grains to start sprouting. When you have sprouted grains (rye, wheat but also quinoa, buckwheat, millet) you can make a simple drink called rejuvelac. Rejuvelac was discovered by Ann Wigmore, the inventor of living foods and of the raw food diet.
(this is a link in which Ann Wigmore shows how to make rejuvelac)
It contains many enzymes and vitamins. The nutrients in rejuvelac are broken down to their simplest form, aminoacids and simple sugars, making the nutrients immediately available for assimilation. It contains the full vitamin B complex. It helps cleanse the intestinal tract and it helps with constipation problems.
It should be used as a tonic, which you can drink in small quantities a few times a day. It can be stored in the fridge for a few days but, as most raw foods, it’s best made fresh and consumed fresh. At first I made rejuvelac with kamut, which has become ubiquitous in most health food stores. But then I came across an article explaining how kamut is a protected brand from a huge farm in Montana (so protected that you cannot even copy paste their mission statement from their website…), it’s marketed using false claims about it having been found in Egyptian tombs. Basically nobody can freely grow kamut and sell it under this name because it’s a trademark imposing a commercial monopoly. So you will pay from 80% to 100% more than normal wheat for a grain that is not so different from organic wholewheat and you will also leave a larger ecological footprint in the process.
(sorry the article is from a trusted Italian source – I could not find any echo on English speaking literature…pressure from the firm must be pretty hard to keep dissenting voices out).
Anyway, if you decide to use rye you will have to wait more days. The same goes with buckwheat, which actually yields a very subtle and refreshing rejuvelac. I have been experimenting with buckwheat in order to have a lower content of gluten. On the issue of whether people allergic to gluten will be allergic to rejuvelac made from wheat, the Ann Wigmore health institute says that not everyone will have an allergic reaction. That’s why I’m currently experimenting with a second batch of millet. My first batch of organic millet did not sprout. I’m afraid this may have to do with the quality of the millet that was sold to me. Though labeled as organic, it may have been treated during the production process and thus unable to sprout.
Take 100g of dry soft wheat grains (or more, see below), wash them under tap water, drain them and place them in a 500ml glass jar. Soak in water for 10 to 15 hours.
Discard the water, rinse the grains and place in the jar once again. Cover with a cheese cloth and fix to the brim of the jar with a rubber band. Place the jar in a dark corner of the kitchen, better if in a warmer place. Make sure the grains are slightly wet, maybe sprinkle them with a few drops of water once a day for a couple of days. You should start to notice that the grains sprout. In warmer temperatures, they will already have a root that is 4 to 6mm long. If they have not sprouted, keep for an extra day. If it takes much longer, then something is wrong with the grains (rye does take much longer and must be rinsed more often to avoid mold).
After two days of sprouting, fill the jar with the grains with pure water (better if bottle or filtered water). The amount of water you add to the grains at this point, will be the amount of rejuvelac you will get. So if you want more than 500ml of rejuvelac, you will need a bigger jar and more water.
Rejuvelac is ready after 24hours. If you want a stronger rejuvelac you can wait an extra day. It’s ready when the water gets cloudy and small bubbles form on the surface. A white foam can also form on the surface of the jar and it should be skimmed off. Rejuvelac can taste a little lemony and flavor will be stronger, the longer the berries have been soaking in the water. After removing the rejuvelac from the berries, it should be stored in the fridge, where it will keep for about 5 days.
NOTE: It can be handy to sprout more grains than you actually need to make rejuvelac. You can store the swollen grains in the fridge for a few days and you can use them to cook, you can add them to soups as you would do with rice or make raw cereal with fresh fruit and nuts. They are a very healthy food, much better than pasta!
YOU CAN USE REJUVELAC TO MAKE FERMENTED NUT CHEESE
When you add pure water to the sprouted grains to make rejuvelac, you can already begin preparations for making fermented nut cheese. In a time of lactose intolerance, making your own nut cheese offers a surprisingly delicious alternative.
You can use macadamia nuts (which are horribly expensive) or cashew nuts (more reasonably priced and equally delicious), hazelnuts or almonds (ideally with their skin on, but then the skin will have to be removed after soaking). Sunflowers and pumpkin seeds can also be used but the soaking time and fermentation time are much shorter and the taste more pungent and less creamy.
Soak 150g of cashew nuts in filtered water for 8 hours (Almonds take about 10 to 12 hours, sundried seeds are fine after 2 hours).
When your rejuvelac is ready, pour it off the wheat berries into a jug. Strain the soaked nuts and place them in a glass jar. Add a small quantity of rejuvelac, just enough to be able to mix the nuts into a smooth, thick paste. You can add more rejuvelac to mix more easily but then you may have to strain your cheese through a cheesecloth at the end.
Basically you leave the paste in the jar, cover it with a cheesecloth and place it in a warm spot in the kitchen, away from direct light. You will notice small bubbles forming, assign that rejuvelac is fermenting with the nut paste. After 10 hours the paste will acquire a slightly acidic flavor. You can wait a few hours more for a stronger flavor, if you prefer. If the paste is too liquid, strain it through a cheesecloth until it gets firmer. Nut cheese usually comes out as a spread. You can add salt, dry spices such as thyme, rosemary, peppercorns, cumin seeds or crushed cardamom for a different flavor. The nut cheese keeps very well in the fridge for 1 week and up to ten days.
If you make cheese in this way, you are going to be busy for a certain number of days (the time is takes to have rejuvelac). While giving a workshop about rejuvelac and nut cheese in London, back in February, one of the participants asked me whether the fermented juice of lactofermented veggies could be used as a starter. On the moment I could not really imagine if the lactobacteria would enjoy eating up the liquidized nut puree but I told myself I would give it a try.
My first attempt was to use a mild gingery juice from Korean style kimchi on cashew nuts. It actually added a complex and pleasant flavor to the nuts. At that point, herbs were not necessary anymore. The second time round I used the juice of fermented salicornia with sunflower seeds. The result was ok but nothing to scream about, maybe not because of the juice but also because sunflower seeds tend to go a bit bitter and after a couple of days they developed oxydation and a pungent yeasty smess.
I actually noticed that a complex juice from a mixture of veggies and herbs, worked better. I then took the fermented juice of homemade umeboshi plums (will have to write a separate post on this…). It worked again and the combination was really nice. My next experience will be with fermented tomato salsa…