Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Soaking 101 Teaser

Isn’t it interesting that virtually all preindustrialized people fermented grain with starters, soured milk, whey, lime and more?  Why did they do it?  Where did it get lost?  As we know at the beginning of the 1900’s the food industry began it’s road to convince food.  Milling wheat into white flour seemed like a great idea at the time; white fluffy baked goods, easy to store and transport without problems of rancidity and infestation.  We are full-circle back to where we started; learning how to use whole grains again.  People are getting sick from gluten, have allergies up the wahzoo and believe eliminating grains is the answer.

When studying this traditional method I googled “pellagra” to get more info on what it is.

Wikipedia: “The traditional food preparation method of corn (maize), nixtamalization, by native New World cultivators who had domesticated corn required treatment of the grain with lime, an alkali. It has now been shown that the lime treatment makes niacin nutritionally available and reduces the chance of developing pellagra. When corn cultivation was adopted worldwide, this preparation method was not accepted because the benefit was not understood. The original cultivators, often heavily dependent on corn, did not suffer from pellagra. Pellagra became common only when corn became a staple that was eaten without the traditional treatment.”

Ah ha!

This week’s class is all about getting started with soaking in your kitchen.  For details on how you can get registered go HERE

This post is part of Real Food Wednesdays.


  1. I've heard that about people in the olden days soaking grains, but don't have any sources. Do you? I'd love it if you could pass some along.

  2. I have seen Amish cookbook recipes that call for soaking, you may have heard of the Amish friendship bread starter that is passed around.

    Nourishing Traditions sites many dishes of old that were prepared by soaking. "Our ancestors, and virtually all pre-industrialized peoples, soaked or fermented their grains before making them into porridge, breads, cakes and casseroles. A quick review of grain recipes from around the world will prove our point: In India, rice and lentils are fermented for at least two days before they are prepared as idli and dosas; in Africa the natives soak coarsely ground corn overnight before adding it to soups and stews and they ferment corn or millet for several days to produce a sour porridge called ogi; a similar dish made from oats was traditional among the Welsh; in some Oriental and Latin American countries rice receives a long fermentation before it is prepared; Ethiopians make their distinctive injera bread by fermenting a grain called teff for several days; Mexican corn cakes, called pozol, are fermented for several days and for as long as two weeks in banana leaves; before the introduction of commercial brewers yeast, Europeans made slow-rise breads from fermented starters; in America the pioneers were famous for their sourdough breads, pancakes and biscuits; and throughout Europe grains were soaked overnight, and for as long as several days, in water or soured milk before they were cooked and served as porridge or gruel. (Many of our senior citizens may remember that in earlier times the instructions on the oatmeal box called for an overnight soaking.)"


It's rude to eat and run. Humor me with conversation please!

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