Sprouting barley – why you should and the health benefits (includes how-to guide)

Sprouted barley (after about six hours of soaking)

Yesterday, I had sprouted barley and thought I would share an image of it for the sake of those who would like to know what sprouted barley looked like: notice the little sprouts coming out there?

So why is sprouted barley more nutritious than un-sprouted barley? In fact, not only barley is more healthy fermented and sprouted, a whole heap of other grain-type foods, legumes, beans, etc. can also be made more nutritious through this method.

As I have touched on in the “Phytic Acid” section of my blog, it is a fact that grains, legumes, etc. type foods contain a nutrients inhibitor substance called “phytic acid” which can prevent our bodies’ absorption of important minerals i.e. calcium, phosphorus, iron and zinc. Obviously, this is a terrible thing.

Therefore, since the old ages, our older generations has developed methods for reducing/eliminating phytic acid levels in these very important staple foods of ours through the forms of: fermentation, lacto-fermentation, sprouting, soaking, boiling for a long period of time, etc.

Our first primal ancestor who had created this method is a psychic/genius because it did work! For example, with barley, a research have shown that sprouting them can result in phytic acid degradation of 58%! (source: Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry) The same trend of results goes with other grains and legumes, etc. but of course, as with the complicated world of nature and organisms, different methods just has to have varying effects on different types of these plants: this makes phytic acid treatment extremely complicated (to the point I don’t even want to get into it).

Luckily, there is a rule of thumb to reducing/eliminating phytic acid levels in these types of foods which is:

Soak, ferment or sprout them for as long as you can (the longer, the more effects you are afflicting). And if possible, use a combination of all the treatment methods. AND use an acidic agent while soaking (as it neutralize the anti-nutients released)

Of course, being the lazy individual that I am, I did not follow the rule of thumb. And I have good back-up reasons for my apparent procrastination:

1. I have an unrelenting fear that my grains/legumes will go bad during the soaking/sprouting process. This has happened with a batch of quinoa during my period of sprouting amateurism. I was very depressed.

2. I’m still not brave enough to prepare food with the fermentation process as I fear of bacterial poisoning those around me and myself. The only fermentation I dare to do is the yeast-rising during bread making process (does that even count?) Imagine the patheticness associated with self-stomach poisoning oneself…

In conclusion, after six hours of soaking + sprouting the barley, I was rewarded with a batch of delicious, phytic acid reduced, fibre-rich (therefore can help moderate blood-sugar levels… basically the only known barley benefits to me prior to googling…), manganese, selenium, more readily available phosphorus and vitamin B1 along with possibly increased contents of these nutrients as shown in several scientific researches on various grains (source: International Journal of Food Sciences & Nutrition).

Basic Barley Sprouting steps:

1. Take out the amount of barley you would like to sprout. Place this in a container i.e. glass bowl, before washing the grains off any dust.

2. Soak the barley in acidified water about three times the height in which the grains reaches up to in the bowl. Soak for at least six hours or until the barley is soft and looks alive *acidic agent i.e. vinegar – one tablespoon to a cup of water.

3. Drain out the water, wash the softened barley with a large sift, then place back into the bowl that is now filled with a bit of water, just so the barley is dampened. Cover with a cloth and leave in a warm place until the grains have sprouted enough to your liking.


P.S. If you live in a cold place and will take longer than six hours to sprout your grains, I recommend changing water and lightly washing the grains at every six hours past point.

And by the way, I would like to point out that Thailand/any tropical climate country is such a wonderous heaven for sprouters. Whereas in New Zealand, it takes me more than one day to sprout grains i.e. quinoa, it only takes a fraction of that amount of time in sprouting barley over here. I could have grown barley seedlings by the end of the day if I wanted to but unfortunately, I hadn’t the time nor patience.

Bonus image:

Barley, millet, quinoa and amaranth in rice cooker.

My sign from god: as embodied through the form of symbolic structures created by mixed grains (barley, quinoa, millet and amaranth) in the rice cooker.

Just kidding, they are just holes created as the rice cooker boils, resulting in bubbles surging up in some areas.

– Izzy