Saturday, April 4, 2009

A New Way to Soak Brown Rice

I've been looking for a way to prepare whole brown rice that increases its mineral availability without changing its texture. I've been re-reading some of the papers I've accumulated on grain processing and mineral availability, and I've found a simple way to do it.

In the 2008 paper "
Effects of soaking, germination and fermentation on phytic acid, total and in vitro soluble zinc in brown rice", Dr. Robert J. Hamer's group found that soaking alone didn't have much of an effect on phytic acid in brown rice. However, fermentation was highly effective at degrading it. What I didn't realize the first time I read the paper is that they fermented intact brown rice rather than grinding it. This wasn't clear from the description in the methods section but I confirmed it by e-mail with the lead author Dr. Jianfen Liang. She added that the procedure comes from a traditional Chinese recipe for rice noodles. The method they used is very simple:
  1. Soak brown rice in dechlorinated water for 24 hours at room temperature without changing the water. Reserve 10% of the soaking liquid (should keep for a long time in the fridge). Discard the rest of the soaking liquid; cook the rice in fresh water.
  2. The next time you make brown rice, use the same procedure as above, but add the soaking liquid you reserved from the last batch to the rest of the soaking water.
  3. Repeat the cycle. The process will gradually improve until 96% or more of the phytic acid is degraded at 24 hours.
This process probably depends on two factors: fermentation acidifies the soaking medium, which activates the phytase (phytic acid-degrading enzyme) already present in the rice; and it also cultivates microorganisms that produce their own phytase. I would guess the latter factor is the more important one, because brown rice doesn't contain much phytase.

You can probably use the same liquid to soak other grains.

208 comments:

1 – 200 of 208   Newer›   Newest»
Sushil said...

I think this can also be accomplished by adding a tablespoon or two of whey to the soaking liquid.

Brock Cusick said...

Stephan, do you know how to measure phytic acid concentration? Is it difficult? I'd be curious to know if adding whey (as sushil suggests) would produce similar results.

Chris Keller said...

Stephan, I wanted to make sure I understood the process correctly. I've rewritten it with the detail I was hoping for. Let me know if it's correct:

1. Soak brown rice in dechlorinated water for 24 hours at room temperature without changing the water. Reserve 10% of the soaking liquid (should keep for a long time in the fridge). Cook the rice in the other 90% soaking liquid and eat. This will break down about 50% of the phytic acid.
2. The next time you make brown rice, use the same procedure as above with a fresh batch of dechlorinated water, but add that 10% soaking liquid from the last batch. This will break down about 65% of the phytic acid in 24 hours.
3. Repeat the cycle of fresh water soaking with the previous 10% reserve. The process will gradually improve until 96% or more of the phytic acid is degraded at 24 hours. The authors found that it took four rounds to get to 96%.

Did I understand the process correctly? Thanks.

Stephan said...

Sushil,

This method is probably more effective at breaking down phytic acid than using whey. From what I've read, yogurt bacteria don't produce phytase. So using whey probably isn't much different from using lemon juice or vinegar. It probably helps (because grain phytase is maximally active around pH 5), but not as much as soaking with phytase-secreting bacteria that you've enriched through successive soakings.

Brock,

I'm not sure how PA is measured. About whey, please see my response above.

Chris,

Not quite. You should discard the other 90% of the soaking liquid and cook the rice in fresh water. I've edited the post to try to make it more clear.

Robert Andrew Brown said...

Neat.

Well found Stephan. Excellent `work`.

toddhargrove said...

Interesting. I'm curious whether any traditional cultures use a similar method with rice. This requires a fridge right? It seems like modern methods rarely give an advantage over traditional ones, but this may be an example.

Chris Keller said...

I think the part that still seemed confusing was this:

"but add the soaking liquid from the last batch".

You may want to say, "but add the soaking liquid from the previous batch to this new soaking batch, then after 24 hours, again reserve 10% of this soaking liquid and cook in freshwater."

That makes it more clear how the iterations of the process are compounding the acidity in each round to reach the 96% in 4 rounds.

Thanks.

Rob K said...

That's a sour mash method, much like making bourbon.

Monica said...

Fascinating.

Would such soaking eliminate the other alleged problems in grains and beans (like lectins)?

Ryan Koch said...

So complicated! Why not just eat white rice?

Michael said...

This confirms for me why the African tribes Price observed simply discarded the bran, and why the Thai today discard the bran (or feed it to their animals), a practice which apparently dates back a very long time. It is simply too much trouble. In my opinion, better and easier to just eat white rice. Some "whole foods" are probably better off not being consumed whole.

Stephan said...

Todd,

Dr. Liang told me the process is derived from a traditional Chinese method for making rice noodles. That gives it some extra authority in my opinion, although I don't know anything about the health of the group that used this method!

Rob,

So making sour mash involves souring intact grains?

Monica,

Yes, it should remove most of them. It's basically a hybrid between soaking and fermentation, so it should remove everything a soak would as well.

Ryan,

I don't find it complicated. All you have to do is soak it like you would soak any whole grain or beans, but hang onto half a cup of soaking liquid for next time. The advantage over white rice is it's richer in vitamins and minerals. But I don't see any problem with eating white rice in moderation if the diet is otherwise good.

Michael,

Some cultures did discard bran, but most of them didn't get rid of it as completely as modern milling does.

David said...

Stephan,

Wonder what you think of this forthcoming review extolling the virtues of n-6 fats?

http://www.ajcn.org/cgi/rapidpdf/ajcn.2009.27744v1

Thnx,
David

toddhargrove said...

Stephan,

I haven't always mentioned it, but I really appreciate you taking the time to answer my questions on these posts.

Michael said...

Stephan,

Based on this tidbit from the Price foundation website, it sounds pretty thorough to me:

"What Burkitt and Trowell failed to recognize is that Africans do not eat their grain foods as we do in the west, in the form of quick rise breads, cold cereals, energy bars and pasta, but as a sour or acid porridge. Throughout Africa, these porridges are prepared by the fermentation of maize, sorghum, millet or cassava. Preparation "at the homestead" begins with washing the grains, then steeping them in water for 24 to 72 hours. The grain is drained and the water discarded. Soaked grains are wet milled and passed through a sieve. The hulls or leavings in the sieve are discarded. In other words, the Africans throw away the bran. The smooth paste that passes through the sieve may undergo further fermentation. Soaking water that rises to the top is discarded and the slurry is boiled to make a sour porridge. Sometimes the slurry is allowed to drain and ferment further to form a gel-like substance that is wrapped in banana leaves, making a convenient and nutritious energy bar that can easily be carried into the fields and consumed without further preparation.7 Often sour porridges are consumed raw as "sorghum beer" a thin, slightly alcoholic slurry that provides lactic acid and many beneficial enzymes.8"

http://westonaprice.org/traditional_diets/out_of_africa.html

Today's Thai certainly avail themselves of modern milling methods.

Since we know that the ancient Egyptians milling was as efficient as any modern method, I wonder if you have posted any studies showing how Price's tribes, other than I noted above, milled their grains.

Stephan said...

Michael,

I've made ogi by that method before. Most of the bran is removed but not all of it. Some cultures did mill their grains before modern milling methods, but it was labor-intensive and typically only the rich could afford milled grains. More often, poor people milled it half way or not at all. I would be very surprised if the average ancient Egyptian ate white bread.

Modern Thai and Japanese, etc. do use modern milling and they do OK as you mentioned. But their health isn't perfect, in Japan for example they have a very high incidence of stroke. Furthermore, their diet is otherwise very nutritious. White rice isn't really harmful itself, but it lacks nutrients.

I think that's the key. Is your diet nutritious enough otherwise that you can tolerate throwing away 75% of the micronutrients in your grains?

bogartg1 said...

Hi Stephan, thought you might get a kick out of this counter argument on phytic acid with references (biblical):

"Phytic Acid Friend or Foe"

http://www.breadbeckers.com/phytic_acid_friend_or_foe.htm.

Have fun,
Nick

Michael said...

Stephan,

Yes, I have taken for granted that the diet is nutritious enough not to be hurt by the relative lack of nutrients in milled grains. After all, that is apparently the case with the groups that did mill their grains, however good they were at doing so.

I am aware of very few healthy groups, past or present, where grains were the major form of carbohydrate in their diet. It seems that among the very healthy groups that starchy tubers were the mainstay, if not the only source of carbohydrate in their diets.

I would have to do a little research on the Japanese, but AFAIK there doesn't seem to be any major health issues among the Thai. I wonder what the PUFA consumption is like in Japan.

The labor intensity issue, IMO, is highly suggestive, in that some groups milled anyway despite that (the modern Thai apparently do both). They must have believed there was some benefit in doing so.

In ancient times refined flour was considered a "high end" food but it certainly wasn't exclusive to the rich, as for example the communion loaves of the early Church were always made with white flour as this was considered the "best" flour.

The 4 stage process looks very good, but IMO seems to be too much trouble since the lost nutrients have been historically, and can be to today, provided elsewhere in our diet.

I am also not sure that partial milling is a bad thing, as there may be just enough bran removed to make the subsequent processing methods much more effective.

I don't think we are disagreeing, but assuming the effectiveness of what you describe, this sounds like an issue of personal preference, presuming one is otherwise on a healthy nutritious diet.

elec said...

Thanks for an interesting and very relevant post.

Are phytase-producing micro-organisms safe for consumption though, especially when 'amplified' using this method? For example, certain strains of Aspergillus niger (a common mold) found on grains produce extracellular phytase but could be considered a health hazard.

Besides, how can we be sure that our brew will match that used in the aforementioned experiments? Without a starter culture or some method of easily measuring the level of phytic acid, this method might be impractical at home.

Brock Cusick said...

Michael,

As anecdotal discussion, I found this site after doing research prompted by having several open cavities. They did not clear up on a paleo diet alone - it took vitamin supplementation (which I did not start until almost three months after switching to a Weston Price-like diet) to address them. Given the scarcity of micro-nutrients in the modern food chain I don't think it's wise to dismiss any source of micronutrients so cavalierly.

Further, I hope this knowledge becomes available in the developing world. Consider the technological quest to develop "golden rice" which is much higher in Vitamin A than standard rice, to address "vitamin blindness" common in India, Bangladesh, Burma, et. al. Perhaps what they really need is a fermentation process that allows proper use of the Vitamin A already present in their diet.

Brock Cusick said...

This isn't even that much work. I have 1 pint two mason jars soaking brown rice now. When it's time to make rice just pour a bit of the soaking medium from one to the next & dump the rest in the rice-cooker: done.

Brock Cusick said...

Speculative Hypothesis:

Primitive people don't wash the pots they soak their grains in with soap & hot water. Therefore the pots are teaming with phytase-eating bacteria, as transferred to the new patch due to imperfect transfer of the previous batch. Therefore primitive cultures aren't soaking their grains - they're fermenting them, exactly as described in this paper.

Michael said...

Brock,

I'm not sure from your post if you are equating paleo diets with Weston Price style diets, but WP diets encompass far more than the paleo approach.

At any rate Dr. Price used a cod liver/butter oil combo, i.e. supplementation, to help re-mineralize teeth. He did not depend on diet alone.

Dr. Price in his day was also concerned about the lack of nutrients in our modern food supply, and he devoted an entire chapter in his book to the root cause of the problem titled, "Food is Fabricated Soil Fertility." It was not even authored by him, suggesting the importance he gave to the subject. IMO, it is the most important and neglected chapter in the book.

Having said that I am not cavalierly throwing away any vitamins, but heretofore before this post, no one, other than the traditional methods used historically, had a way to liberate those nutrients without milling the bran in some way, either fully or partially. And for those groups who may not have bothered, it still would have required more nutrients to make up for what the intact bran took away or did not allow to be liberated.

So if this method can help, great. Is it a monumental breakthrough destined to change the nutritional profiles of some of the groups you listed? I doubt it. I didn't know Vitamin A was readily available in any plant food without a conversion process, which is so gut dependent as to be problematic for many people. Seems to me, given the bodies ability to store vitamin A, there would be easier ways to solve that problem.

As for fermentation versus soaking, I believe the quote I posted from the WAPF website addresses that head on.

Stephan said...

Nick,

I don't know why we bother doing scientific studies when everything's already in the bible!

Michael,

There are a number of healthy cultures that ate whole grains. Nutrition and Physical Degeneration contains a bunch of examples. Many of them are in Africa. Some cultures removed most of the bran during processing as you mentioned, but others didn't. Healthy cultures that rely heavily on whole grains almost invariably ferment them. I think you can make an argument for refining grains. At this point I feel the extra nutrients in whole grains are worth it if you prepare them correctly.

Brock,

You may be right about microorganisms in soaking vessels contributing some phytase activity during soaking.

Elec,

It's probably about as safe as making your own sourdough. The microorganisms are similar if not the same. As long as it's tart and not bitter or stinky it's probably OK. But I don't assume responsibility for other peoples' fermentation experiments!

Stephan said...

Michael,

Another point. I think refining grains has a lot to do with convenience as well. Who wants to soak, grind and ferment brown rice (as a number of cultures did before milling) when they can just throw white rice into the cooker? So the fact that cultures have adopted white rice is not necessarily a strategy to improve health.

Stephan said...

David,

I read that today; it's garbage. Seriously, I can't believe it made it through the peer review process. It cited the evidence very selectively. The conclusion went something like this: even though omega-6 contributes to CVD in all our animal models, that doesn't seem to apply to humans. Right.

Michael said...

Stephan said: There are a number of healthy cultures that ate whole grains. Nutrition and Physical Degeneration contains a bunch of examples. Many of them are in Africa. Some cultures removed most of the bran during processing as you mentioned, but others didn't. Healthy cultures that rely heavily on whole grains almost invariably ferment them. I think you can make an argument for refining grains. At this point I feel the extra nutrients in whole grains are worth it if you prepare them correctly.
__________

Stephan,

I think we are getting a little bogged down in this discussion. I'm not making an argument for an across the board use of refined grains. I do very much believe in properly preparing grains, it is just that, IMO, milling is as legitimate for properly preparing some grains as grinding, soaking, and fermenting, and can be used in conjunction with some of the other processes. That is why for some things, like rice, I don't see the big deal in eating it refined. Whether or not all groups did it, we do have precedent that some healthy groups did in fact refine some of their grains.

As for convenience, I don't know. We have the Thai milling their rice long before the modern milling machine. The description of some African groups and their milling process doesn't strike me as all that convenient, though the process of milling and fermenting sounds very thorough. I don't see it as an either/or proposition. If the brown rice ferment works well, all is good. If it doesn't or someone doesn't want to use it, but instead opts for white rice, then that, IMO can work equally as well in an otherwise nutritious diet.

Jenny Light said...

Stephan:

Thanks again for a terrific job!

Even though I have eliminated grains in my diet, I have copied your method and paper clipped it into "Nourishing Traditions" over Sally's recipe for brown rice.

My thinking is: if brown rice is a STAPLE in your diet then fermenting is a necessity! If you eat rice only occasionally, then using refined is absolutely fine! (This philosophy would apply to all refined food ingredients).

The WAPF advocates using variety in the diet, a very simple and wise way to avoid nutritional deficiencies.

Stephan said...

Jenny,

I agree. If you don't eat it very often, then eating refined white rice or unsoaked brown rice isn't a problem. The more of a staple it is, the more careful you have to be.

David said...

Stephan,

I'm not sure which animal models you are referring to. The animal studies I've seen seem to show that polyunsaturated fats result in less atherosclerosis than saturated fats - are there any that show differently?

Stephan said...

David,

I spoke too soon, you are right for the most part. My apologies.

Here's what the paper said:

"The consistency between these various approaches yields confidence
in the validity of their outcomes. It also refutes hypotheses
that omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids increase heart
disease risk. Such adverse effects may occur in cell culture
and laboratory animals, but they apparently do not determine
heart disease risk in humans."

No reference. I don't know what lab animals he was referring to. The paper is very poorly referenced in general.

I think it's worth pointing out that it's difficult to produce atherosclerosis in animals in general. You typically have to use unnatural stressors such as suppressing the thyroid (dogs), feeding cholesterol to herbivores (rabbits), or using genetic mutants (mice). It's difficult to make the case that these model systems apply to humans.

Ironically, I think that applies particularly to monkey studies. Despite being related to them, we are far more carnivorous than any surviving monkey species (excluding insectivores). We are far more closely related to neanderthals, which were carnivores. You can feed a healthy dog any amount of saturated fat and cholesterol without causing atherosclerosis, so it's all a question of what the animal is adapted to.

Aaron Blaisdell said...

Regarding Weston Price's use of high-vitamin cod-liver oil and high-vitamin butter oil to help curb dental caries and bone repair, he invariably also included bone broth as part of the regimen. I think the oils contained a lot of the necessary vitamins for extracting minerals and laying them down in the tissue, but the bone broths supplied the minerals.

Stephan said...

Aaron,

Mellanby recommended bone ash as a supplement, which I suppose would serve the same purpose.

Olga said...

Hi Stephan:

Can you freeze the liquid after you have soaked the brown rice for longer term storage? Will the phytase activity survive freezing?

Stephan said...

Olga,

I don't know.

Charles R. said...

Along the same lines, here's an interesting recipe for fermenting oatmeal using miso (would that affect phytic acid positively?):

http://www.southrivermiso.com/store/pg/18-Porridge-Grain-Milk.html

South River Porridge

1 cup rolled oats
2 cups water
2 teaspoons light miso (see note below)

Cook oatmeal in the evening 5-10 min., or until water is absorbed. (Do not use salt in the cooking.) Let oatmeal cool down to body temperature and then stir miso thoroughly into the warm cereal. Cover and let sit overnight at room temperature (about 70°). Reheat in the morning (without boiling) and serve.

Without imparting a noticeable taste of its own, the enzymatic power of the miso will liquefy the cereal, unlocking its essential nutrition, creating a wholesome sweet taste as it ferments overnight.

Stephan said...

Charles,

I've fermented oatmeal with miso before. It tastes good. I've scoured the internet up and down, and I can't find any data on the phytase content of miso. It must have phytase at some point, but I don't know if that makes it into the finished product. It clearly has amylase though, because grains sweeten when you mix them with miso overnight.

Alpest said...

Do you think this method would be effective with the phytates in white rice (1/3 of them are still in white rice actually!)? If it wouldn't, do you know of any other method?? I'd eat brown rice but I have to avoid fibers...

Stephan Guyenet said...

Alpest,

Actually refining rice removes about 90% of the phytic acid. What remains is almost negligible. White rice seems to be OK in moderation, but don't rely on it for nutrients, it's basically empty calories.

Alpest said...

You're right, though I remember I read somewhere that there still was a fair amount of PA in white rice.

By the way, Indians do ferment white rice into idlis, right? That must be a clue that there still are antinutrients in there. I'll try to find informations about that.

About your last remark: I definitely agree with you, but what choice do I have, as I need to restrict fibers in my diet as much as I can! I tried raw honey as a source of carbs but I suppose (and feel) it's too sweet for everyday use, 3 to 4 times a day... Still looking for a solution!

Brock Cusick said...

Alpest,

If you're trying to minimize fiber you should look into the preparation method of the African dish ogi. They mash their grains, soak them and then run the slurry through a sieve. Properly sieved ogi is nearly (or totally) devoid of fiber.

Stephan Guyenet said...

Alpest,

Yes, there is still PA in white rice and some cultures do ferment it. I definitely support that if you want to go through the trouble. My only remark is that it's much more important for brow rice than white rice, because the former contains much more anti-nutrients.

Omesh said...

As far as I understand the issue regarding Phytic Acid, the problem relates to naked grain, like wheat or lentils, where as rice is not a naked grain, it has a husk which is removed either manually or mechanically. The phytic acid would or should be in the husk and not in the reddish rice grain which what you see when the husk is removed. That is the reason why planting a naked rice grain will not result into a rice plant. Because it is not the whole seed. Therefore I do not see a rice grain containing any significant amounts of phytic acid. Unfortunately perhaps the reddish portion is also called "rice bran" which is easily but wrongly equated with "wheat bran". Wheat Bran does contain Phytic Acid but I seriously doubt if Rice Bran does. I do know that Rice Bran does contain a significant amount of oil as Rice Bran Oil is made from this Good part of the Rice, which the Rice Mills merrily remove to make the rice look clean and white. Also Phytic Acid per se is not completely bad, recent research shows that a diet should contain some Phytic Acid. It is excess Phytic Acid which is bad as it chelates the minerals that one consumes. Lastly, reduction of phytic acid on naked grain like wheat or lentils is increased by soaking in an acidic medium and accelerated in the germinating process (sprouting) rather than in the fermentation process.

Stephan Guyenet said...

Omesh,

Rice bran, and thus whole grain rice, is high in phytic acid. It has a similar amount as whole grain wheat.

Talia said...

Thank you for all the useful information!
What is the purpose in cooking the rice in fresh water? Why can't the soaking water be used?

Brock Cusick said...

Talia,

I don't know the answer to your question, but for what it's worth Chinese folk-tradition is also very clear on this point: if you soak your grains, dump the soaking water and cook them in fresh water.

Best,
Brock

Brock Cusick said...

Oh, Stephan, I completely meant to put a post script into my previous comment but forgot to. I just wanted to say that this blog post has probably had the largest effect on my life of any single blog post I can point to. I have made soaking brown rice in this manner a part of my culinary routine and even introduced my in-laws to this method. Nowadays because of this post I eat white rice if I'm out on the town but soaked brown rice at home, and have been for months quite often.

Thank you so much for this information.

Stephan Guyenet said...

Hi Talia,

The soaking water contains some of the water-soluble toxins such as tannins. I think it's better to use fresh water.

Sarabeth said...

I've been using this method for several months now, and I really like it--not only because my rice tastes better!

My question relates to the last person's comment--if I use the soaking liquid in a dish, does that negate the nutritional benefits of soaking? And can I use it to soak gluten-free flour before baking?

For example: I have a cake recipe where I can substitute this phytase solution/starter for the milk, let the batter sit overnight, and add baking powder, etc. and bake 24 hours later. Does that help at all, nutritionally-speaking?

Thanks for any info!
--Sarabeth

Chris Keller said...

I'm still not 100% on the exact process at this point. Since you two have been doing it for months, can you explain your process?

And do you now persistently have a solution you can use on every new batch of rice that you keep in your fridge?

Stephan Guyenet said...

Hi Brock,

Glad you found it helpful.

Hi Sarabeth,

Yes, adding some of the soaking water to your batter and letting it sit should make it more nutritious. The soaking water contains bacteria and yeast. It's basically a sourdough fermentation step. Keep in mind that it will add some tartness to your dough.

Hi Chris,

It's incredibly simple. You just save part of your soaking water and add it to the soaking water of the next batch. Then, the next time, you save some of the new soaking water and add it to the next batch. Repeat indefinitely.

It will improve with each subsequent batch. The saved soaking liquid will keep in the fridge for several weeks.

Sarabeth said...

Hi Stephan,

I'm in the process of completely re-learning about healthy human eating, as I try to deal with dental issues that caused me to stumble upon this whole phytic acid/antinutrient can of worms.

Background: I was raised eating LOTS of whole grains (non-fermented), and completely vegetarian (no flesh foods at all, and some dairy and eggs), which I'm now re-thinking. It's easier said than done! My son has shown very obvious bad reactions to both gluten and dairy. So I'm especially interested in your findings about fermenting grains.

Do you know if brown rice pasta would have any less phytic acid, etc. than unsoaked/steamed brown rice, due to its cooking in lots of water that gets drained off? (I'm hoping so, or that there might be a way to prepare rice pasta to make it more digestible--my son currently likes it a lot.)

As I'm experimenting with gluten-free starters and adapting my own GF recipes, I'm wondering how to know whether I'm adding an adequate amount of starter or fermenting a mixture for an adequate amount of time. How did ancient peoples figure this out?! Are there any modern rules of thumb?

Do you know whether the hydration/water content of a dough/batter alters its fermentation time?

And: do you know in what ways (if any) your phytic-acid-reducing soaking liquid/starter differs from a brown rice starter (rice flour and water fermented and boosted with kefir)?

Thanks! As I'm creating and adapting recipes, I'm really appreciating the bits of wisdom I am gleaning from your blog.

Regards,
Sarabeth

Christine said...

I find this discussion facinating. I have Celiac Disease and wonder what kinds of health benefits people are noticing by reducing PA. I was led here by a discussion about arsenic and rice. SO I guess my next question would be this....is organic rice or rice grown in California less toxic? What about rice that is being GM'd to be drought resistant? Would that kind of rice be harmful? Thank you again.

Christine

Stephan Guyenet said...

Hi Sarabeth,

Brown rice pasta is probably high in phytic acid, but there's no way to know for sure. I typically just eat white rice pasta in moderation. It's not nutritious, but at least it doesn't interfere with the minerals in the rest of the meal.

I think traditional cultures just used a very long process of trial and error. Bacteria and yeast are adaptable and they will work under a variety of conditions. I don't think there's much point in optimizing, besides just giving them enough time to do their job.

Brown rice flour mixed with water will spontaneously ferment, but it may take a couple of rounds until it gets really efficient. The microorganisms in a brown rice starter will be the same as in the soaking liquid described above, but adding kefir may change the composition.

I don't know how dough hydration affects fermentation time.

Sarabeth said...

Hi Stephan,

So if a starter contains "bacteria and yeasts," and does its work with so many different helpers, does using a single strain of yeast for fermentation (active dry, in baking, for example) compare in any way? Or is its fermentation too specialized? Might it be helpful to ferment an active-dry-yeasted food for a longer time?

I found a delicious recipe for 100% buckwheat pancakes that uses regular yeast and ferments on the counter overnight. And I'm wondering if these are more digestible than quick-risen pancakes, or pancakes made with baking powder.

Another question: would adding baking yeast (or baking powder) at the end of a sourdough fermentation (but before baking, obviously) somehow negate the lovely, natural sourdough fermentation that came before? I'm trying to develop a gluten-free bread that is whole grain, fermented, and doesn't taste like a disgusting brick, and adding extra leavening last-minute seems helpful in that.

One more question. You have obviously been sifting through a lot of information, which is currently a frustrating endeavor for me because of the human capacity for inconsistency! And because I'm not a trained scientist/sociologist.

Is there a list somewhere of "phytic acid containing foods"? Sometimes I read that "all nuts and seeds" have it. Sometimes people say that it's not nuts, but just seeds, and only certain ones. And that certain soaking methods only apply to certain ones. It makes my head spin, because this is certainly not something where I can look to my cultural heritage to verify the information.

You should write a book! Although I guess you kind of are, in the way that "books" are written in the twenty-first century.

Thanks so much,
--Sarabeth

Sarabeth said...

Sorry, two more questions: Does rice bran oil have phytic acid?

And: do you know if rice koji, as used to ferment amazake, would neutralize PA and associated anti-nutrients?

Regards,
Sarabeth

Michael said...

Brock said:

Oh, Stephan, I completely meant to put a post script into my previous comment but forgot to. I just wanted to say that this blog post has probably had the largest effect on my life of any single blog post I can point to. I have made soaking brown rice in this manner a part of my culinary routine and even introduced my in-laws to this method. Nowadays because of this post I eat white rice if I'm out on the town but soaked brown rice at home, and have been for months quite often.

So Brock, after reading your comment I went back and read the original post and realized that it was much simpler than I had originally thought. So I am going to give it a try and ditch the white rice for awhile (although I usually only eat white rice in my coconut-lentil soup or with sushi, neither of which at the moment is a large part of my diet).

I also think this is something Sally Fallon and the WAPF folks might appreciate since they just use the normal overnight soak for brown rice, so I will be letting them know.

Brock and Stephan, thanks a bunch.

Michael
Nutrition and Physical Regeneration

Stephan Guyenet said...

Hi Sarabeth,

Commercial yeast does break down some anti-nutrients, but not as efficiently as a sourdough starter or any other natural grain-derived culture. There are two issues. One is simply that commercial yeast is designed to rise bread as quickly as possible, so it just doesn't have time to digest it adequately. The other issue is that more microorganisms means a greater diversity of enzymes to break the dough down more thoroughly and efficiently.

I don't see any reason why you couldn't add commercial yeast after or even during a sourdough fermentation.

I don't know of any centralized list of PA-containing foods. The best way to dephytinize grains is to soak them with a sourdough culture or cultured soaking medium as I described in this post. Whole gluten grains will also rapidly break down their own PA if they're ground fresh and allowed to sit for a couple of hours wet.

Beans will break down most of their own PA if you soak them for 24 hours, preferably in warm water for part of the time.

The WAPF recommends soaking raw nuts in salt water overnight and then dehydrating them to break down PA. It's a traditional method but I've never seen any direct evidence that it works. Roasting nuts breaks down some of the PA.

Rice bran oil does not contain PA, and I don't know if koji would break down PA. I've never been able to find any information on that, but I suspect it would.

Hi Michael,

Please do let them know. Regular overnight soaking of brown rice barely breaks down any of the PA, whereas this method breaks down at least 96% of it.

Omesh said...

If I might add this link to a book which gives a lot of information on Phytic Acid removal and a list of foods containing phytic acids etc. I found it to be very instructive on various ways to remove phytic acid. I don't how you will like the contents of this book but give it a go and see how much it improves your understanding of this subject.

http://books.google.co.in/books?id=ifUkaCTmqpMC&lpg=PA157&ots=xdFvBQ0t4A&dq=phytates%20removal&pg=PA157#v=onepage&q=phytates%20removal&f=false

Sarabeth said...

Hi Stephen,

Thanks for your comments. (I fermented sweet rice according to your method, and then turned it into amazake using koji--a very tasty experiment!)

But now, after reading through the book preview (following the link from Omesh), I'm more confused. According to the researchers/authors, it sounds like they consider phytic acid and its salts to be potentially beneficial antioxidants, and that they have a POSITIVE effect toward preventing disease. They mention chelation of minerals, but that that's not necessarily a bad thing.

However, I didn't buy the book, so maybe I've missed something by skipping all the pages that aren't available in the "preview."

Do you think this is a valid argument?

--Sarabeth

Omesh said...

I hasten to respond. Please, please don't be confused. Its a simple arguement - TOO MUCH OF ANYTHING IS BAD AND CONVERSELY TOO LITTLE OF ANYTHING IS EQUALLY BAD. The key word in food is "balance" which is a concept which you must have heard often enough but probably never been confronted with the dichotomy so specifically as in the case of Phytic Acid. There is a school of thought that some Phytic Acid in the diet is a good thing and precisely for its chelating properties. Diets which are high in cereal and lentil content like the Asian, particulary the Indian diet, if untreated by soaking and/or fermentation can be harmfully high in Phytic Acid content because the human body does not generates the Phytase enzyme which eliminates excess Phytic Acid . The Million Dollar question of How Much is Good and beyond what point is Bad is the one I hope Stephen can throw some light upon.

Stephan Guyenet said...

Hi Sarabeth,

The positive effects of PA are based on rodent studies and cell culture. The evidence in humans is weak. Rodents express an enzyme in their intestine that breaks down PA, so it doesn't affect mineral absorption as much as in humans.

Even if PA does have some beneficial effects, I can't imagine they outweigh its effects on mineral status.

Sarabeth said...

Hi Stephan,

I've been doing a whole lot of experimentation with gluten-free fermentation. My life and my counter space is taken over by it, but I have a few finished recipes to show for it. [If you're interested, I'm posting them at www.lifeisapalindrome.com .]

I just picked up a copy of that book by Sally Fallon, but I have some questions that she doesn't fully answer and I'm wondering if you can:

1. Is it true that length of cooking time, and cooking temperature, affects the nutritional value of rice? Fallon doesn't recommend a pressure cooker, even after rice has been properly soaked. But I love my pressure cooker!

2. Fallon says that cooking rice/grain with meat broth can neutralize phytic acid. Is this possible?

3. Do you have an opinion about the best way to soak/prepare beans? How effective is sprouting at reducing phytic acid/enzyme inhibitors? What about using a pressure cooker?

By the way: I went to the dentist, and my gums appear marginally better! Is it the fermented grains? The nasty cod liver oil? Something else?? In any case, I'll keep soaking things. :)

Thanks again,
Sarabeth

Stephan said...

Hi Sarabeth,

Glad to hear you've seen an improvement in your gum health. Cooking does affect nutritional value, and pressure cooking will cause some nutrient loss. I don't know how significant. Bone broth will not degrade phytic acid, but it does provide enough minerals to render PA largely irrelevant, which I think is what Sally Fallon meant.

The best way to soak beans is 24 hours in warm water. You can change it once if you wish.

Peter said...

Do you know if this method is useful for wild rice? Or if there is a better method for it?

Stephan said...

Hi Peter,

It would probably work, but you'd have to experiment. Generally, grains already carry with them the microorganisms capable of breaking them down.

Rob K said...

Stephan, Sorry for the months delay in responding. The sour mash process takes some of the leftover mash after the alcohol has been distilled out of it, and adds it back to the next batch of mash, usually before the yeast culture is added. It's done after the grains are ground and cooked.

sparklingdimness said...

HI,

'The saved soaking liquid will keep in the fridge for several weeks.'

STEPHAN,DO U MEAN AFTER SEVERAL WEEKS WE SHOULD DISCARD THE SAVED SOAKING LIQUID AND START ALL OVER AGAIN?

AND CAN I SOAK BROWN RICE LESS THAN 24 HOURS?IS IT BEST TO SOAK BROWN RICE WITH LID ON?

AND CAN I GRIND BROWN RICE INTO FINE FLOUR BEFORE SOAKING? WILL IT MAKE IT LOST MORE NUTRIENT?

BESIDE, WHY DISCARD THE 90% AND SAVE ONLY 10% FOR THE NEXT USE? CAN'T WE JUST SAVE ALL THE 100% SOAKED WATER FOR NEXT USE? WOULDN'T IT HAVE MORE PHYTASE?

YOUR REPLY IS APPRECIATED. THANKS

sparklingdimness said...

Hi Stephan,

i've tried your recommended method . but the first day i soaked the rice, i soaked it less than 24 hours. and i didn't keep the soaked water in fridge cause i start another batch immediately.

yet, the second batch, i had over-soaked it for more than 24 hours and it turned sour smell.

i keep 10% of the sour soaked water in fridge now but wonder can i use it for the next batch? is it producing any alcohol? cause i'm feeding my 4 month old bb v brown rice actually.

thanks.

sparklingdimness said...

hi stephan,

i've been browsing for info abt germinating n fermenting grain these days. it's rather confusing at times.

is germination more effective compared to fermenting?

n would it be better if we germintae n fermant brown rice rather than juz ferment it as your suggested method?

is either;
1) soaking for 12 hours(before start to ferment), then germinate it by draining and running under water few times a day.
2)then only use your suggested fermentation method by soaking in water for 24 hours.

or:
1)ferment brown rice by soaking in 24 hours as your suggestion.
2)germinate brown rice using method as mention above(1).

the only question is, would grain germinate after fermentation?

or if we're using fermentation method, it's pointless to germinate ?

thanks.

Dr.Gee said...

Hi,

this sounds very interesting.

(i'm Chinese but strange i'm not aware of this method. i have only heard about using either white vinegar or wine in soaking)

maybe this is some regional method?)

you think it would work other grains & legumes as well.

thanks.

ps. your blog is very nice. i read my eyes out.

pam

Stephan said...

Hi Pam,

I do think it's a regional method. The first author told me that it's done during the production of a particular type of rice noodles. I had never heard of it either, and I don't have any way to verify it but since China is so culturally diverse I'm taking his word for it.

Christine said...

Thank you for this interesting article and the comments that follow (it took me ages to read!). This subject is very important to me as I eat an enormous amount of brown rice.

I have a few questions - I have always been concerned about the toxins in rice if left a while to cool after cooking (see http://www.nzfsa.govt.nz/consumers/food-safety-topics/foodborne-illnesses/safe-cooling-of-cooked-rice/index.htm). Would soaking the uncooked rice grains for 24 hours at room temperature, activate those toxins and make it harmful?

Does the soaking have to be at room temperature, or could it be done in the fridge?

Does it have to be for 24 hours or could it be overnight?

Would discarding the soaking water, mean that you are throwing away some of the water soluble vitamins, such as the B vitamins?

As for white rice, I don't eat that, as I think it is worse for candida and also for blood sugar levels.

I have read that cooking beans with kombu or wakame sea vegetables makes them easier to digest. Would they have any effect on grains do you think?

Thanks for any input you can give.

Stephan said...

Hi Christine,

I've never gotten sick preparing my brown rice this way, and I've done it over 100 times. I can't guarantee that no one else will ever get sick. You try it at your own risk.

It's basically the same thing as a sourdough starter, except instead of soaking flour, you're soaking intact grains.

You should soak at room temperature, 25-30 C is good. It won't work if you do it in the fridge.

cam said...

Stephen, how does this soaking method for brown rice compare to soaking and then sprouting the rice?

Dr.Gee said...

Hi, Steve,

our city chloramine to chlorinate the water so i had to get distilled water.
(but strange our sinks still grow mold)

i'm not very strict about following the rules of 24 hr + saving 10% of the soaking water tho. i just eye ball it most of time.

it tastes a bit malty. i really like it.

i also tried it on beans as well. i'm not sure if this method is intended for beans. but it seem to minimize the bloating (gas) problem. LOL.

thanks.

pam

Olivia said...

Hi Stephen,
Thanks for the instructions. I've recently switched to brown rice and just learnt about the need for soaking. We have chlorine in our water. Is it essential to have dechlorinated water? And if so why? What ways do you recommend dechlorifying water?
Look forward to hearing your views. Thanks

Stephan said...

Hi Olivia,

Dechlorinated water is essential because chlorine will kill the bacteria you're trying to cultivate. Leave a pot of water out overnight, or boil and cool, to get rid of cholrine. Brita-type filters also remove it.

Sarah said...

I've read that brown rice syrup is made by thickening fermented brown rice. Do you know if this method produces a fermentation strong enough to make syrup?

Leslie said...

Hi Stephan--
Do you have any idea whether phytic acid has any relation to the amino acid GABA in the brown rice?
Here is yet another way to prepare brown rice for cooking (supposedly beneficial because it maximizes GABA):
http://www.instructables.com/id/HOWTO-make-GBR-germinated-or-sprouted-brown-rice/

I would guess this method also minimizes phytic acid?
Thanks for your helpfulness!

Nailgun said...

sparklingdimness -

Sprouting/germination vs. fermentation is basically a fork in the road.

From what I understand, if you sprout grains before you perform a long ferment, many of the extra nutrients that are freed up by germination are consumed by the bacteria which are doing the fermentation for us.

I've read iterated many times statements like "you can reduce the amount of phytic acid in your diet by soaking or sprouting your grains."

I've yet to come across a well-established (read: traditional) process that fully combines a germination and a fermentation step.

So -- which would should we pick?

Probably just do whatever's easier. I've personally got a number of sourdough starters around, so before I make pancakes I let all 5 of them loose on the millet, which I grind roughly 'halfway' before allowing a two to four day ferment at room-temperature. I then basically just add an egg and some potato-starch and heat up the skillet. BTW Sarabeth, I would love to try out the recipe that uses buckwheat, if you're able to post it. But regardless, it's probably best to occassionally do your not usual method.

As established with the questions about whether phytic acid is a healthy thing to consume or not, it's good to strike a balance somewhere in the middle, and leave the rest up to fate, because food-science still has lightyears to travel before it could account for all factors which affect the absolute optimums for your personal body as faur as ratios nutrients and preparation-styles are concerned.

I've also seen some research that the chealating effect of phytic acid is *good* on an intermittant basis because it starves a number of harmful bacteria which can accumulate in the bowels of the nutrients they need to do any damage. I apparently wasn't taking notes that time, but I remember setting a rough aim for myself of allowing a flood of phytic acid once every two or three weeks, meaning eating a plate of spaghetti or something like that would not be so bad, considering that active phytic acid does not stick around for days and days and days after ingestion.

Dr.Gee said...

Hi, Leslie,

in Taiwan or oriental markets here, one can find "sprouted rice".
(more $$$) it does taste better.

i read the GBR rice method you posted. i'd stick with Stephen's method due to lack of a device to maintain rice @ right temperature for days.

regards,

pam

Leslie said...

Thanks, Pam.

Stephan's method seems easier to me as well, no fussing with green tea or temperature, as you say. The only trick with Stephan's method is keeping a bit of the soaking water from each soak, no big deal.

Leslie

zellia said...

Stephan,

What do you think of this Indian rice fermentation method?

http://herbs.sakthifoundation.org/rice.htm

Basically it has you cook the rice and then ferment it overnight. Do you think this would give the same results as the method you've posted here?

lukemcm said...

Stephan,

I just read a recipe for sprouted brown rice and the reasoning behind it at http://radishboy.blogspot.com/2008/05/sprouted-brown-rice.html
It seems to make good sense but why didn't traditional cultures prepare and cook rice this way? Is something "nasty" produced in the sprouting?

Kitchen Stewardship said...

Stephan,
I am fascinated by this research and can't believe I didn't run across it before. I have been looking into the Nourishing Traditions claim about soaking grains for 6 months now and am buried in research I wish I had time to read. I was disappointed to find some errors in the NT research once I started reading on my own (such as the point that phytates and phytic acid are not synonymous). I am encouraged by the fact that you're going straight to actual research journals and even emailing the scientists, and of course the fact that you're a trained scientist goes a long way. I've been looking for another scientist to help validate (or nullify) some claims that have been made in correspondence with a PhD from Australia re: soaking grains. He doesn't think there's any use breaking down phytates, because the phytic acid will simply be released into the soak water and wreak more havoc than the bonded phytates. Any thoughts?
Thank you!
Katie @ Kitchen Stewardship

also re: Olivia:
As far as I know, Brita filters do not claim to remove chlorine from tap water.

Lisa S said...

Hi Stephan,

Thanks for your thorough research and follow-up with the author of the paper.

When cooking the rice with new water, how much water do you use? I assume the soaked rice takes up some water, so you don't need to cook with the normal amount. So, for example, with 1 cup dry rice, how much cooking water would you add after soaking for 24 hours?

I also believe the cooking time should be less than normal. In your experience, how is the cooking time different using a 24 hour soak?

I've played with both these variables and haven't found the right amounts and time. Any insight you could share would be appreciated!

Sarabeth said...

I have been more obsessed than usual by my grain-fermentation adventures. I've posted a bunch of new sourdough/gluten-free recipes here: http://www.lifeisapalindrome.com/recipes .

I hope they can be useful for some of you!

Suzanne said...

Lisa,
There's a simple way to figure out how much water to add back after pouring off the soaking water. When you pour off the soaking water, pour it into a measuring cup. However much soaking water is poured off, that is how much fresh water you need to add back in! I don't know for sure about the cooking time, but I would cook it the same amount of time as unsoaked rice, just to be sure.

Sara Kay said...

I stumbled upon a method similar to this - wonder if you have any thoughts about it? I can't tolerate dairy every day, so soaking with whey is out. My daughter is sensitive to citrus right now - no lemon juice. I don't like the taste of vinegar in most grains. But, I've been experimenting with gluten free sourdough, so I started adding a tablespoon or so of my brown rice sourdough starter to the soaking grains for breakfast porridge. The flavor is very similar to grains soaked with whey.

This seems similar to your method of soaking rice. Thoughts?

Olivia said...

I tend to rinse my rice following soaking so never taste any acid. Is it better not to rinse?

lee said...

'The saved soaking liquid will keep in the fridge for several weeks.'

so we have to discard the soaking liquid after a few weeks, and start all over again?

also, if we discard the soakng water and cook in fresh water, won't there be a loss in water-soluble vitamins?

Boiling Pot said...

Such an interesting topic and so many smart, intelligent people coming up with points I would never have thought of!

I personally would not get carried away worrying about phytic acid/phytate. Especially with the idea of the fellow from Australia (Kitchen Stewardship's post of March 14). Until correctly planned scientific research is done, it's all grist for the mill, I say. I do suspect that sprouting, then cooking is the way to go with both grains and beans. With brown rice the sprout is really tiny and barely visible, tho, if that means anything.

It is the overall diet that counts + myriad lifestyle aspects, not just a bit of phytic acid. I guess if you are on an old fashioned macrobiotic diet, it would be an issue, of course. I do recall reading that some long-time macro followers had terrible osteoporosis both of the bones and jaw (receding gums), so this may be from a combo of too much grain + no dairy products. I welcome everybody's opinions.

Jeff Natt said...

Why should I worry about phytic acid if I don't have any mineral deficiency and am in good health. I am a 52 year old man. My recent blood work up from my annual physical did not indicate any mineral or vitamin deficiency or other potential problems other than slightly low vitamin D and high cholesterol (hereditary in my family). For the past 30 years or so I have not eaten any animal products with the exception of fish a couple of times a week, eggs a couple of times a week and yogurt/kefir 4-5 times a week. Grains (whole grain breads, commercial pasta, rice, granola) beans,and lentils are a larger part of my diet as well as vegetables (mainly steamed or roasted broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, brussel sprouts) and fruit (blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, bananas, apples, oranges). Am I missing out on something?

Boiling Pot said...

I'd think your wide range of foods, esp. including the dairy products, would not make phytic acid an issue for you. Also, all those vegetables and fruit. I think that the phytic acid business is more of a concern for people eating huge amounts of grains + insufficient alkaline-forming food to balance it all out. Keep at it, you are in good health. And how about taking some good quality cod liver oil for the Vit. D. deficiency.

Alissa Effland said...

You said this method increases the mineral availability. But in an older article you wrote, "Phytic acid is a medium-sized molecule. If you break it down and it lets go of the minerals it's chelating, the minerals are more likely to diffuse out of the grain into your soaking medium, which you then discard because it also contains the tannins, saponins and other anti-nutrients that you want to get rid of. That seems to be exactly what happens, at least in the case of brown rice." So by throwing out the soaking water, aren't you also throwing out the minerals and beneficial ingredients of the brown rice?

Suzanne said...

Jeff, I've been wondering myself if phytic acid is really a problem for someone who has a healthy gut. I wonder though how reliable a blood test is for showing vitamin deficiencies. How are your teeth? Do you get cavities? Many people believe the health of your teeth is a true indicator of your overall health. If you aren't getting any cavities, then I would say your diet has served you well over the past 30 years and you do not need to worry about phytic acid.

Boiling Pot said...

Re the teeth. Maybe there's other factors. I didn't get teeth troubles till, you guessed it, pregnancy and nursing. It takes so much out of you that heavy supplementation is probably necessary irrespective of diet, at least in the moderate climates where we don't get tons of sunlight as they do in the equatorial parts of the world, where their teeth are just beautiful.

Angela said...

Does the fermentation produce excessive glutamate in the final brown rice? I've been reading up on msg and hidden sources of naturally occurring glutamate and I'm confused on which is healthy...fermented or regularly cooked brown rice.

This concern arose after reading information by Dr. Russell Blaylock on the devastating health effects of MSG, aspartame and excitotoxins.

Carlo said...

Dear Stephan,
this is the fourth time I repeat the fermentation cycle.
Perhaps the reason are 24 °C at my home here in Italy, but at the end of the cycle the soaking liquid smells definitely, though not badly.
Pls note I keep the 10% of soaking liquid in the fridge.
Let me know your opinion, please.
Sorry for my bad english.
Thanks four your valuable advice.
Carlo Basso

Stephan said...

Hi Carlo,

A little bit of odor is OK, but it shouldn't smell strongly. If you taste the liquid, it should be a bit sour. The flavor should not be very unpleasant.

Hans said...

http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn14592-superfood-rice-bran-contains-arsenic.html?page=1

Do you think the arsenic in the bran is something to worry about? I think the products we purchase have a large amount of the bran removed.

meenraja said...

Stephan, Thanks for a wonderful post. I am trying fermentation both before and after the brown rice is cooked. To be precise I soak the brown rice for 24 hours as outlined in your blog and then once cooked, i soak it overnight for 12 hours with water and a little homemade yogurt after the rice has cooled down. I cannot describe how much better I feel consuming this cooked rice. Typically in South Asia the working class, especially the ones working in construction survive on fermented rice, three times a day. Unfortunately they consume fermented cooked white rice like one of the posters highlighted . Unfortunately they do not derive the full benefit as they are consuming the polished white rice. But still they have enough energy to survive the physical labor eight hours in the sun.

Boiling Pot said...

Meenraja, your fermented brown rice reminds me of the Indian dish idli, made from fermented black lentils + rice and cooked into little cakes. For years I've wanted to make this but haven't bought an idli steamer yet.

Olivia said...

I now have filtered water so will try this method.
I wonder could the same method be used for other grains, beans, lentuls and nuts?

Stephan said...

Hi meenraja,

Thanks for your comment. You mentioned that South Asians eat fermented white rice. Would you mind describing to me how it's made, and what they call it? I'm interested to learn more. Thanks.

meenraja said...

Stephan, Let me elaborate on the point I brought forth regarding fermented rice in South Asia, mostly Southern India and Sri Lanka. Hand pounded rice (what we call brown rice) was the predominant form of rice consumed in India before the British arrived there. The British however brought with them the modern process of rice milling/polishing thereby killing the market for brown rice. The practice in olden day India when there was no refrigerator or cooling devices was to cook the rice in the morning and whatever was leftover was put in a earthen vessel with lots of water and left to ferment overnight. This was the only way of preserving the precious rice especially given that India was prone to a lot of famine in those days. This rice was usually consumed first thing in the morning. This form of rice was not only very nutritious but also very cooling for the body, preventing sun strokes etc(maybe because of the prevalence of absorbable minerals). However with the advent of the refrigerator in the last 40 years or so, this practice has completely vanished amongst the middle class and upper classes, who prefer to just leave the cooked rice in the refrigerator without any water.

But the poor working class have no other means of nutrition. They depend on government which usually provides them with subsidized rice at around 5 cents a kilo. They make the best of it by cooking it and preserving it in water before consuming it. It is called "Pazhaya Saadam" in Tamil which means old rice. It is also refereed as "pazhankanji" in a language called Malayalam. That means "Old Porridge". This type of rice is not consumed in Northern India where Wheat Chapati's are more popular. However the way Chapati's are made(mixing stone ground wheat flour with some water and yogurt)and left to ferment in a covered wet cloth for about 6 hours, provides its own form of fermentation where the bacteria acts within the dough and neutralizes all the toxins in the grain. This is very much unlike the modern day bread found in our supermarkets which are nothing but super baked in 15 minutes on a conveyor belt. This is the prime cause for gluten intolerance for a lot of people in North America.

There is also another concoction in South India called Koozh Kanji. In which millet flour is soaked in water overnight and then a porridge is made out of it. I am including a link for such a recipe.

http://priyaeasyntastyrecipes.blogspot.com/2009/09/kamban-koozhpearl-millet-porridge.html

Omesh said...

I just got myself some real-real unprocessed, unpolished, rice, which just had the husk removed. I cooked it myself to see what is the difference between "white" rice and the "real thing". There is a world of a difference.. The mouth-feel is different, it's chewy and you can feel that you are biting into something. The taste is different..at best earthy with a very discernable fragrance and aroma. "White" rice is just a very poor relative and I really wonder, which dunderhead decided to polish these gems and make them into (perhaps?) a visibly attractive thing but a culinary and health disaster.

As for fermentation, it seems unlikely that white polished rice will ferment satisfactorily unless aided by a "starter" something like whey etc. Even this fermentation will not give rise to the real micro-organisms originally present in the rice. The aided fermentation will only grow the bacteria and yeasts that are present in the air around "you" and not the bacteria (the good ones) and the yeasts that were there in the original rice.

As for phytic acid; fermentation, aided or unaided will significantly and definitely breakdown this anti-nutrient. However, perhaps in polished white rice (kindly correct me) the majority of the phytic acid has been mechanically removed in any case.

Fermentation adds value. No doubt about that, so aided or unaided, white or brown rice, fermentation will add value to the rice you eat.

Coming back to my brown rice, it is shame that for the sake of cosmetics and convenience, we throw away all the good parts, the taste and aroma and eat the remaining bland starch residue.

Dr.Gee said...

Hi, Stephen,

it's interesting to learn that SE Asians also have fermented (white) rice.

Chinese also eat fermented white rice.

i believe it's usually done using
steamed white glutinous rice.

the fermented rice tastes a little like sake (but with a lot less alcohol).

the sweet rice + liquid are heated. then tangerine or other fruits are added. the soup is served hot as a dessert usually in winter.

Dr.Gee said...

ps. oh, sometimes we add an egg too in the fermented sweet rice soup.

Stephan said...

Hi Meenraja,

Thanks very much for the information, that is useful. It's sometimes difficult to find information on grain fermentation because it's often overlooked by observers. They will remark that rice is eaten, but not that it's fermented.

Hi Omar,

Thanks for the comment. You are correct that milling removes most of the phytic acid (roughly 90%).

meenraja said...

One thing that we do not consider these days is the nutritional quality of the grain. A few hundred years ago the rice plant flowered in roughly about 180 days. These days fast breeding rice flowers at 90 days. Therefore it goes without saying that the quality of the rice consumed has degraded as well. Therefore fermented or non fermented the nutritional vale of the present day rice is vastly inferior to what our ancestors consumed about 100 years ago.

Carlo said...

Stephan, when I cook my long grain organic brown rice (24 % amylose) simply soaked four times (5 cups of water for 2 of rice) I cover the normal pot after boiling. Then 60 minutes low heat. So grains are detached enough.
If I cook similarly the same rice fermented, the result is not so good.

meenraja said...

I have been currently experimenting with the duration of soaking the rice before it is cooked and also leaving it soaked with water after the rice is cooked. I have noticed that the rice soaked with water after it is cooked is still edible after two days of fermentation. Beyond that it may not be advisable because of the formation of fungus which could be a health hazard. I eat this cooked rice with home made organic yogurt. I observed that a lot of allergies that I had was slowly less noticeable after consuming this rice. Again this is just my opinion, please use caution and judgment before you try this yourself.

meenraja said...

Preventive effect of fermented brown rice and rice bran on N-methyl-N'-nitro-N-nitrosoguanidine-induced gastric carcinogenesis in rats.

Tomita H, Kuno T, Yamada Y, Oyama T, Asano N, Miyazaki Y, Baba S, Taguchi A, Hara A, Iwasaki T, Kobayashi H, Mori H.

Department of Tumor Pathology, Gifu University Graduate School of Medicine, Gifu 501-1194, Japan. j2111706@edu.gifu-u.ac.jp
Abstract

A number of possible preventive agents for cancers in different organs have been reported, however, little information is available regarding the effective agents for the development of gastric cancers. The rice components are known to be effective for the prevention of the development of cancers. Our group has demonstrated that fermented brown rice by Aspergillus Orzae (FBRA) has chemopreventive potentials in several organs. In this study, we investigated the modifying effects of FBRA exposed during the initiation or post-initiation phase of N-methyl-N'-nitro-N-nitrosoguanidine (MNNG)-induced gastric carcinogenesis in rats. Five-week-old male ACI rats were divided into 7 groups. Groups 1-5 were given oral administration of MNNG (100 mg/l in distilled water) for 24 weeks starting at 6 weeks of age. Groups 2 and 3 were fed a diet containing 5 and 10% FBRA during the initiation phase, respectively, whereas groups 4 and 5 were fed these diets during the post-initiation phase. Group 6 was given a diet containing 10% FBRA throughout the experiment. Group 7 was kept on the basal diet alone and served as an untreated control. Rats were sacrificed at 52 weeks after the start, and the epithelium of the stomach was investigated in detail. Incidence and multiplicity of gastric proliferative lesions of group 1 (MNNG alone) were 61% and 1.67+/-1.57/rat, respectively. Those of group 5 (25%, 0.35+/-0.67) which were given FBRA at a dose of 10% during the post-initiation phase were significantly less than those of group 1. Furthermore, the same group expressed a significantly decreased Ki67-labeling index in the non-lesional gastric epithelium when compared to that of group 1. These results indicate that FBRA inhibits MNNG-induced development of gastric tumors by administration during the post-initiation phase in rats. FBRA is regarded as a promising dietary agent for the prevention of human gastric cancer.

Medjoub said...

Stephan-

This may be an inane question, but why not just reserve ALL the soaking liquid from a previous batch of brown rice and soak the new batch in that, instead of a mixture of fresh water and starter?

Ferdinand_K said...

Hello Stephan!
some weeks ago I cam across your blog, and instantly felt in love with it;-)

Yesterday I went on to soak my brown rice the way you approve it, to get out the maximum.
but now I read in another post of you the following:

"Phytic acid is a medium-sized molecule. If you break it down and it lets go of the minerals it's chelating, the minerals are more likely to diffuse out of the grain into your soaking medium, which you then discard because it also contains the tannins, saponins and other anti-nutrients that you want to get rid of. That seems to be exactly what happens, at least in the case of brown rice."

So, is that "new" way to soak brown rice perhaps a new way to get rid of those minerals, because of discarding the water;-)?

I`m slightly confused...

Best wishes from Germany
Ferdi

La Mailleraye said...

Does anyone know: Can the soaking liquid go bad in the fridge?

I have a jar of soaking liquid that's been in the fridge for at least a month and while it doesn't smell differently from the last time I used it, the white film on top has grown....is it still usable or should I start again?

Thanks!

energy_addict said...

Hello Stephan. I've been voraciously consuming your blog, and now wanting to voraciously consume healthy brown rice. I'm on the 2nd iteration of the 4-iteration brown rice fermentation process that you describe. As you mentioned above it tastes a bit sour but not bad at all. Two questions if you've the time. 1) Lots of bubbles rose out of the rice when I moved it to pour off the fermentation water. Normal? 2) How does one determine how much water to soak the rice in? Just cover it with water + a little more?

energy_addict said...

I just remembered two more questions if folks will humor me. Does the fermented brown rice taste different and how much less water does one use to cook it than one would use if there were no initial soaking process? Thanks!

Luna's Mom said...

Did you mean phytase producing bacteria or phytase EATING bacteria? Seems if they produce phytase that would be a bad thing, no?

Oskar B said...

Hi Stephan! Do you think its a good idea to dry the rice in the oven (50C) after doing the soaking? Ive been doing this so that I can soak lots of rice every time, and then dry it and store it in a jar.
Do you think the phyctic acid content will stay low?

Brianna said...

Is it pointless to soak with tap water? I plan to get a water filter eventually, I hate the taste of chlorine, but for now all I have is tap.

Olivia said...

I started this process but the liquid I left over in the fridge for a few weeks had mould in it when it came to the next time I wanted to use brown rice. So I guess I'll have to start the process again.

Sarah Faith said...

Stephen,
Could I make my own phytase starter from the soaking water of rye grains? It seems if it works with brown rice (low in phytase) it would work even better with rye (high in phytase).
I wonder if soaking water from rye grains for soaking other grains/nuts/seeds/legumes including rice, would help jump start the phytase reaction? What do you think?

claire said...

Hi Stephan,
did you know this fermentation recipe is in Sandor Katz' book, Wild Fermentation?

have you thought about adding like 10% whole buckwheat into the soak, as it's high in phytase? Amanda Rose mentions this method when soaking other grains that are low in phytase- like oats.

do you know if quinoa will ferment in the same way?

we've been soaking our rice this way for a while, but looking to get off grains... and wondering if quinoa would be a good sub once it's fermented.....

Michael said...

I know Sally Fallon mentions in her book Nourishing Traditions soaking/fermenting Quinoa but is it really necessary? I could see a good soak but a long ferment since Quinoa, like Buckwheat, is not a true grain?

Here is brief tidbit from Wiki on the topic:

Quinoa (pronounced /ˈkiːnwɑː/ or /kɨˈnoʊ.ə/, Spanish: quinua, from Quechua: kinwa), a species of goosefoot (Chenopodium), is a grain-like crop grown primarily for its edible seeds. It is a pseudocereal rather than a true cereal, or grain, as it is not a member of the grass family. As a chenopod, quinoa is closely related to species such as beets, spinach, and tumbleweeds. Its leaves are also eaten as a leaf vegetable, much like amaranth, but the commercial availability of quinoa greens is currently limited.

claire said...

Micheal, I will attempt to answer the quinoa fermenting question as it appears Stephan is busy?
Because both grains and seeds have phytic acid, which binds to nutrients, there is a theory that our ancestors fermented grains/seeds/nuts to decrease the phytates. Soaking begins the process but if it's not warm, the right pH and long enough, you won't really decrease much phytates.

btw, I did a 24 hour soak on the quinoa (similar to the Wild Fermentation method for brown rice) then dried and ground it to make sourdough bread, and it was really delicious, in an earthy quinoa way.

claire

Leah said...

I was wondering if anyone has tried this method for seeds or nuts...

Could you use the same batch of fermenting liquid for different seed varieties? Would you have to have a separate batch of liquid for almonds, pumpkin seeds, etc..?

G. Salvage said...

I would also be interested to read a response to Leah's question. Broadening the question a bit, is there any reason why you couldn't use a single homogenous 'soak reserve' for all grains, seeds, legumes? In other words, rather than refrigerate separate soaking liquids for rice, nuts, buckwheat, just use one batch for all.

Ryan said...

Do you have the Chinese recipe for making rice noodles? I've been wanting to make my own brown rice noodles at home, but the documentation is scant.

aldin said...

i could see how my sister gave me a bad tip on this. she told me to saok my brown rice in water and acid so i squeezed lemon into it.

joeobrien6 said...

When you ferment grains or pulses and then cook them doesn't cooking destroy the good bacteria?

Ivanda said...

This question was asked before, but as far as I am aware, was not answered. I am really curious about how long we can repeat the cycle before having to discard the liquid? Does it ever go bad or get 'too saturated'? Does anybody know? Thank you!

TheS0urce said...

Ivanda if it's anything like fermenting cabbage like kimchi in time you can reduce the fermentation time. It is like using starter culture that you can buy.
It shouldn't go bad, if you see mould spores then you will have to throw it out.

One note make sure to cook in de chlorinated water otherwise you will kill of the beneficial bacteria.

Ivanda77 said...

Hi. Thanks for you answer.
I might experiment with reduced times.
How do you preserve the beneficial bacteria if you cook the rice? Chlorinated or dechlorinated water- boiling would kill all the microorganisms in there. Did you mean to write 'ferment' instead of 'cook'? :)

TheS0urce said...

Ivanda, my understanding is not all of the bacteria will die during the cooking process. To kill all bacteria you would need to use extremely high temperatures.
Chlorinated water isn't good for drinking let alone for fermenting. You can experiment by using different water. I'm not a chemist but I have used chlorinated water and it doesn't produce the same result. My guess is chlorine kills most of the bacteria not if not all.
I did mean cook. Remember there's live bacteria. If you cook fermented rice in chlorinated water you're defeating the purpose. The bacteria helps with digestion and nutrient absorption.

De GroeneVrouw said...

Actually Ivanda and The S0urce: most bacteria WILL die in the process of cooking, but that doesn't matter.

First of all they have already done their work of breaking down the phytic acid.

Second, to maintain a healthy gut environment, you need both living bacteria (from raw uncooked ferments or, in modern times, probiotics) and the metabolism-materials (bacteria-pooh!) made by the bacteria. These will help acidify and otherwise benefit the gut environment, so that the bacteria that are already there (gut flora) will thrive. This is where cooked ferments come in; they won't provide you with living bacteria (prObiotics) but they will provide food and a proper environment for your own bacteria (prEbiotics).

Also, Luna's mum: phytASE is the enzyme that breaks down the phytic acid. The latter is the bad thing, the phytase is the good stuff ;-)

And thank you Stephen, for writing this article. It's been really helpfull (as were some of the comments) and I'll be reading more of your blog the next couple of weeks... really nice!

M said...

I read some of the original research paper, and it seems that they used 30g of rice and 150 ml of water or a 1:5 ratio of rice mass to water mass for their fermentation experiment. This is roughly equivalent to about 1/4 cup of dry rice and a cup of water, to simplify things.

So, might as well just use 1/4 cup of new rice a couple times (not actually using it for cooking) to just make the fermentation "special sauce" right of that bat IMO.

One thing I am curious about is if the rice + water combo should be left to soak in an uncovered container. I'm wondering what everyone else is doing.

TheS0urce said...

Chlorine kills bacteria. Don't believe me? Why do they use it to kill bacteria in water? Chroline can kill the beneficial bacteria. There is some beneficial bacteria in cooked fermented rice. It may take longer to get the benefits but it's there. I also eat fermented cabbage (kimchi), which is non cooked. Any case you don't want to kill any of the POTENTIAL bacteria you can have after cooking. Since you stated not all not of the bacteria will die off. Raw fermented food is just faster providing the benefits.

The key thing I was trying to point out was that chroline ISN'T good for your helath.

Heather said...

I'm wondering about whether or not this same process would work for oats if you add something like buckwheat or wheat to help with the phytase and leave out the acid. My kids are allergic to all the acidic mediums for soaking.

Suzanne said...

Heather - I soak my oatmeal with a little bit of sourdough starter that I made from rye flour. Most oats are heat-treated, the enzymes have all been destroyed. So unless you are using raw oats, soaking oats in an acidic medium like yogurt or whey doesn't really help with phytic acid. The rye starter works really well though.

Boiling Pot said...

Well, after two years of discussion on this topic, I have concluded that there is no consensus, really.

It is because it takes time and effort to denature the unhealthful aspects of grains that our (western) ancestors consumed dairy product (usually unpasteurized or fermented) as a source of calcium to compensate.

Peggy Karp said...

Has anyone studied people who've been on a macrobiotic diet for a long time to see if they have unusual rates of digestive problems or mineral deficiencies? Macrobiotics suggests soaking rice for up to eight hours in fresh water but I've never seen any recommendation for any other pre-cooking preparation. So it seems to me that people on this diet for, say, 20 or 30 years would be a good group to study to see if, in fact, daily ingestion of whole grains high in phytic acid has caused problems.

Boiling Pot said...

Well, I don't know if anyone has done a formal investigation, but I do recall some years ago reading in macrobiotic magazines that some of the longtimers had serious osteoporosis.

However, in this article by Gale Jack, she says that a macro diet will reverse and/or prevent osteo. Personally, I do not believe her. Macros are famous for their denialism. I would not say anything either way about the one case Ms. Jack refers to.

http://www.natural-connection.com/resource/macro_today/osteoporosis.html

I was interested in macro diet 30 years ago and I don't recall reading anywhere, in any of my literature or cookbooks, any instructions to soak rice overnight. No soaking of any grain was ever mentioned. Maybe they've wised up and are now recommending it, but during macrobiotics' heydey of the 1970s and 80s there was no such advice.

sereez said...

I almost came apart at the seams recently with high sensitivity to several foods that must have been developing over a period of time.

Thanks for this article, which is now very clear. My question:
soaking 24 hours is a long time and I'm in a very hot country. (1) Should that be soaked at room temperature no matter what the temperature is? (2) does it require longer / shorter time depending on season? (3) can a large batch [half kilo or more] be soaked, then stored [frozen] in sections for later use? or is it better to cook it all and then freeze part of it?

thanks for any responses.

TexasBruin said...

From what I've read, the phytase enzyme is fundemental to breaking down the phytic acid and phytaes.
So why not add a healthy amount to the soaking brown rice? I also read that phytase is most active at pH of 5. One idea would be to take a 1/2 cup of wheat (or better yet sorghum), wrap it in cheese cloth, tie, and put in the soaking acidic water. Would this not accelerate the process?
Kevin, the TexasBruin@gmail.com

Rachel M said...

I did not read all of the comments... But would this also be the best way to soak oats and other grains? Thanks! Rachel

Timothy Grahek said...

Would it be possible to combine the GBR rice method and this new soaking method? One of these days I plan to buy a hot plate, so I was wondering how effective this would be. I would assume very effective, but has anyone done this?

Or because the water isn't changed at least once within 24 hours the GBR method wouldn't work?

Renee said...

Hi Stephan, I've been doing your soaking method, however after I've soaked it, I can't figure out how to then cook the rice to get the perfect consistency. What ratio of rice to water, and for how long. Do you use less water than usual because it's already pre-soaked? I've tried a few ways, can't see to get it right.

petunialee said...

Stephan, thanks for this great post. I've used your soaking method and it works beautifully for us. I cook my rice in a thermal pot and find that I have to use less water than with normal white rice to get the al dente effect.

バンホーン・トッド said...

Timothy Grahek, I am the author of the instructables on GBR that uses a hotplate. You can use this method and combine it with my GBR method. You would just want to keep the temperature low enough that no spoilage happens during the first 24 hours. Once you get a few batches in, if this method really is effective, I could see it preventing spoilage very well. I also add whey or other ferment-starters as a good way of reducing spoilage while sprouting.

DougCookRD said...

should eating really be this complicated? i'd rather skip the whole grains

Boiling Pot said...

Whole grains are not bad. They can be a healthful part of an omnivorous diet. For heaven's sake. Add a bit of yogurt or whey, soak overnite, make the sign of the cross over the rice if you are inclined, thank the gods or God or whoever you believe in that you have this day had some food, and let it be. My grandmother lived to be 95 after a lifetime of hard work and whole grains, and died in her sleep of no disease.

ladyrenewed said...

Sprouted brown rice is also a good option. Doing this enhances nutrients and even neutralizes the phytic acid allowing for improved nutrient absorption and digestion. You can sprout brown rice at home or buy sprouted brown rice at a health food store.

Boiling Pot said...

Ladyrenewed, are you referring to a product sold as "Sprouted Brown Rice Protein Powder"? I rather like this even though some health advisors say we should never consume protein powders. It is true that it's a "partial" food but sometimes I think it's okay.

Green Rice said...

Hi!

Thank you for the great blog! I have two question for you, I would be very happy, if you could help me.

How much water should I use for 1 cup of water? Five?

And which 10% should I use again with fresh water? The 10% of the originally soaking water (weight before soaking), or 10% of the water, that left in the bowl after the soaking (the rice will have more weight)?

Thx! :)

URBAN said...

I too have been soaking rice in whey and will give this a try. Does this make sense with wild rice and black rice too? Very little grain in my diet, but I eat moderate amounts of wild, brown and black rices. I have been soaking all three in filtered water with added whey. My assumption is that this process will help make the nutrition of all three more available, but that is an assumption.

Greg said...

I just ran across this while researching a way to make phosphorus available from rice bran for use in an organic spirulina-growing medium, but I'm also interested in it for cooking my next batch of brown rice and my rice bran muffins. Thanks for the info! One Q: If we throw away 90% of the soak water, isn't it possible that this water contains large amounts of the minerals that we've liberated from the phytic acid, the very minerals that we want in our diet or in my case spirulina medium? Should we just go ahead and use that water to cook the rice?

ashlie papp said...

Thank you for this information, I'll use it wisely. Can't wait to make a starter! I've been looking all over for this info. Also, as to your bio Stephan, doing Raw Food Vegan you don't have any problems with obesity. Obesity comes from when you're too acidic and your bod needs to store toxins. Basically. The longer version is on my facebook. Ashlie Papp. See my note "Raw Food". Check for updates. Be Blessed!

melissa c said...

I've been doing this for a few months now, but now every time I make brown rice it's really sour. It never used to be. Am I putting in too much of the soured liquid? Is the soured liquid bad? Any info would be helpful. I'm wondering if I have to start over. Thanks.

Dana said...

Todd, asked if different cultures use this method. I can add about Kazakhs in Central Asia and many other cultures m.b. who celebrate Spring New Year Nauryz. A special drink called Nauryz Kozhe prepared from seven grains that are fermented for several days, otherwise grains were not much used in everyday diet. Novadays, in modern cooking, most of the grains are soaked at least for several hours before cooking.

Susie said...

For those who are asking why you should only save 10% of the soaking liquid,I assume it must be to refresh it the same way you would refresh a sourdough starter. If you keep using the same liquid over and over, I imagine the bacteria would start to die in the accumulation of their own waste products.

I read somewhere that sprouted or GABA rice does remove some of the phytic acid, but not all. This fermentation method seems much more effective. That being said, I use GABA rice I buy from my local Japanese store when I want to make some rice last minute without fermenting.

Also, in another article, Stephan mentioned that the minerals that were chelated with the phytic acid are discarded with the soaking water. Is that only the case when using ground rice, not whole? Or, are we losing just as many nutrients via this method? Does the fact that the rice is intact preserve some nutrients?

Paawun said...

Is Pita Bread good? I believe it is fermented?

giantshrimp said...

This may a dumb question, but i have not seen it asked so here goes:
Would it be possible to soak in water with some powdered Phytase enzyme (from supplement capsule). And could that be used for other grains/legumes? Thanks.

Sandeep Ch said...

cant we add some yougurt instead,even it has live cultures?

Carie Fox said...

I recommend http://aem.asm.org/ (applied & environmental microbiology) for answers to questions similar to yours. You may also be interested in fermented whole oats & recipes/peer-reviewed articles on that topic. (In fact I like the fermented oats so much--and find them easier, tastier and quicker to cook--less firewood to collect?--that I got curious about fermented rice and searched to this site.)
I think that we don't need to try so hard to make the microorganisms available--if rice is similar to other fermented foods, the appropriate microorganisms are on the rice. Using the old water is a nice jump-start, though. The problem with using other ferments (like yogurt) is that the lactobacili (etc) in the yogurt may not be the best for the rice; you would actually be introducing a competitor to the ones you most want for the rice. Also, why promote the same old bugs you already have in your gut when you might have the opportunity to welcome some new ones?
Which brings me to my question: do you know what microorganisms dominate in these rice cultures?

xShelbyx said...

Can this be done with legumes? How would legumes be fermented (which would help with digestion and decrease antinutrients and starch)?

What would be the fermenting medium..Im vegan, so no whey for this gal (soy yogurt? miso? saurkraut brine? kefir?.....or old soak water from a previously soaked batch?)?

If u have any clear instructions on this, that would rock!

Also, is it even MORE optimal to sprout first, THEN ferment legumes? How would this be accomplished?

Or is sprouting better than fermenting?

thanks!

xShelbyx said...

Is distilled water ok to use? spring water? my tap water is horrible

Boiling Pot said...

Fermenting legumes, for me anyway, produces a vile, stinky, inedible product. Even my chickens didn't want to eat them after I cooked them, and chickens love cooked beans. I guess it is because of the high protein component. Just plain sprouting, and then light cooking, is the way to go with legumes, in my judgment.

Better yet, buy the split version of peas and beans. A lot of them (green peas, chick peas, lentils, urad, mung, etc.) are available in asian Indian stores. These likely would be much lower in antinutrients, but don't quote me.

Sanjeev said...

> a vile, stinky, inedible product

Yeah, love that natto stuff.

If only I could keep it down.

Shanon Hilton said...

Hi Stephan, You've done such a wonderful job responding to everyone's comments, I hope you don't mind one more. We've been experimenting with coconut kefir - powdered milk kefir in coconut water and canned coconut milk. You mention that milk kefir is missing what is needed to break down the phytic acid in whole brown rice. My question is, would there be any benefit to soaking brown rice flour in coconut milk kefir? Or is this a more or less wasted step? Thanks so much. --S

Anonimo said...

Do you think I could do this to get rid of the phytic acid in the rice bran ALONE? I mean, I'm interested on the phytase for animal feed. I want to use rice bran with the feed, but not brown rice.

Timothy Grahek said...

I'm gonna try using this method on lentils starting tomorrow. I'll give you guys my results. Of course I'll be using the starter that I've acquired from the brown rice in order to do this.

Deller Trask said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sarah said...

Stephan,
Can you comment on parbroiled white rice? How is the phytic acid content and nutritional content? Is it pretty much the same as regular white rice? Thank you!

jewiuqas said...

Just an (constructive) idea, folks, how to touch up your brown rice ferment. I have been doing this fermentation thing since the very beginnings, so that I consider myself a senior rice fermenter. The fact is that the culture, whatever you do, will start to lose its potency after a couple of dozen cycles at best. If you repeat the cycles with very short intervals, it might not come to this, however, and you might maintain your culture at peak form all the time. As to me, I seldom do more than one or two cycles a week, and it happens that I put it aside for entire two weeks. And I can testify that it works amazingly well even under such conditions. When it starts to decline, however, (you will notice it by a decrease in bubble formation, which is often accompanied by an altered olfactory experience, too), all you can do is to start with a brand-new culture. As we all know, it takes up to four cycles to have it fully functional. So, you’ll have to put up with some ingested phytic acid at the beginning. What you can do to counteract this, is to leave your rice to germinate for 36-48 hours after the fermentation. Rinse it thoroughly under tap water, than put it back in the same receptacle you used for the fermentation, and maintain the same con-ditions (around 30°C). Putting a lid on is a good idea, lest the rice dry. The scientifically confirmed fact is that 48 hours germination decreases the phytate content of brown rice to around 40% of its original value. Here is the link to the study with the graphs (this is the very same article, I reckon, that Stephan refers to in this post with regard to fermentation):

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0308814608002513

This 40% adds up with the decrease resulting from the bacterial action, so that to my humble estimate you can have the nasty phytates reduced to 1/3 of the starting level even at the first cycle. Reassuring, isn’t it?
I can testify that the 48 hours germination does not alter the texture of the rice considerably, it does not become too “weedy”, it is still the grain it was, suitable for both salted and sweet dishes.
A question: are you aware, Stephan, or anyone of you folks, of a gluten-free method to tame maize? I would like to prepare something like maize porridge (polenta). It is suggested to mix some rye flour to it. Would buckwheat flour do the job as well?

Winner said...

Hi Stephan! Do you mind sharing your uttapam recipe? Do you include white rice or lentils? Thanks a lot! Love your blog!

Elina

Johan Lindén said...

Great post!

Could the same method be used to enhance white rice?

Thanks in advance for answering!
Johan

smokes said...

Awesome.I'll do this from now on.Btw Amanda Rose in her ebook on phytic acid, suggests putting some buckwheat(since its having more phytase)..I'll try that method also, but I'm sure this one also works..tnx Stephen.

Rex said...

Stephan, any studies/new ideas on your part concerning the effectiveness of adding miso paste to cooked cereal grains and then allowing the mixture to sit overnight? Do you know how much phytic acid is removed? What about other anti-nutrients? Is the miso as effective as soaking uncooked grains? Any info you have in this regard would be much appreciated.

CuriousChef said...

In the article, did the authors say mentioned if they used vinegar or lemon juice in the water? If so, what acidifying agents did they use and at what amounts?

ramya sundararaman said...

Hi Stephan,
Landed on this page quite some time back and i am now using your method to prepare brown rice. I appreciate your time and effort in letting us know of a good method to utilize the rich minerals and vitamins in brown rice.
I am from South India and I know to some extent that the only reason people eat white rice is because how easily it can be prepared and also obviously for the taste.
May be you already know, but the kind of rice my grandparents’ generation or the generations before ate, was more brown and definitely not as pearly white as it is today.
I still know that a lot of people from my parents’ generation who prefer the “parboiled rice” and “single polished” rice varieties that are still luckily available in the country. This is definitely way better than the completely polished, nutrient stripped white rice varieties.
Most people of the my generation and the previous do not prefer this variety because it is more starchy and chewy.
Also there is an ancient practice of soaking the left over rice from dinner overnight and having it for breakfast the next morning. The starchy soaked rice is called “Kanji”/”Congee”
I do know that a parboiled brown rice variety is available in the UK but I could not find a similar one in the Netherlands. May be I can send you pictures sometime later.
Btw., I was thrilled to see your post on idli which is quite a staple in our diets. ;-)

ramya sundararaman said...

Hi Stephan,
Landed on this page quite some time back and i am now using your method to prepare brown rice. I appreciate your time and effort in letting us know of a good method to utilize the rich minerals and vitamins in brown rice.
I am from South India and I know to some extent that the only reason people eat white rice is because how easily it can be prepared and also obviously for the taste.
May be you already know, but the kind of rice my grandparents’ generation or the generations before ate, was more brown and definitely not as pearly white as it is today.
I still know that a lot of people from my parents’ generation who prefer the “parboiled rice” and “single polished” rice varieties that are still luckily available in the country. This is definitely way better than the completely polished, nutrient stripped white rice varieties.
Most people of the my generation and the previous do not prefer this variety because it is more starchy and chewy.
Also there is an ancient practice of soaking the left over rice from dinner overnight and having it for breakfast the next morning. The starchy soaked rice is called “Kanji”/”Congee”
I do know that a parboiled brown rice variety is available in the UK but I could not find a similar one in the Netherlands. May be I can send you pictures sometime later.
Btw., I was thrilled to see your post on idli which is quite a staple in our diets. ;-)

Boiling Pot said...

I've gone back to the very beginning of this discussion. This is not clear to me: why save only 10% of the soaking water and throw the rest away? Why not keep all of it? Sorry for not understanding. - Boiling Pot.

Tam said...

Hi. I came across this post while searching for how to best soak brown rice. Are you suppose to cover the brown rice while it soaks for the 24 hrs or leave it open? Or does that not matter.
Thanks!!

Edeline Tan said...

I am so grateful for this blog entry. I began an elimination diet two months back for medical reasons, but I had been struggling with the bloating and digestive problems brown rice was giving me. A week ago I fortuitously chanced upon this thread and I've been fermenting my brown rice since.

I had great results for the first three cycles, but thought it smelt a little off for the fourth cycle.

My question relates to room temperature. I live in an equatorial climate, with a temperature range of 23-33 degrees celsius. (I think that's 73-96 in fahrenheit?)

Should the soak be of shorter duration if the room temperature is warmer? Say, 12 hours as opposed to 24? This may especially be the case once the phytase potency has built up after a few cycles. For those of you living in temperate climates, it may have bearing on how long the soak should be in the summer as compared to winter.

Dipti said...

hey thanks for sharing this information about brown rice..this is very useful

Rolf Fredriksson said...

In 1897, Dr. Christiaan Eijkman, a Dutch physician and pathologist, demonstrated that beriberi is caused by poor diet, and discovered that feeding unpolished rice (instead of the polished variety) to chickens helped to prevent beriberi. The following year, Sir Frederick Hopkins postulated that some foods contained "accessory factors" – in addition to proteins, carbohydrates, fats, and salt – that were necessary for the functions of the human body.[19][20] In 1901, Gerrit Grijns (May 28, 1865 – November 11, 1944), a Dutch physician and assistant to Christiaan Eijkman in the Netherlands, correctly interpreted the disease as a deficiency syndrome,[21] and between 1910 and 1913, Dr. Edward Bright Vedder established that an extract of rice bran is a treatment for beriberi.[citation needed]. In 1929, Eijkman and Hopkins were awarded the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine for their discoveries.

Abhijit Awalekar said...

Hi,
Please tell me why we have to throw away water after Fermenting Rice(Keeping 10% aside). Why cant we use the same water to cook that rice.

grace carswell said...

I fermented chickpeas and lentils (separately) for three days in acidic water with one capsule of a 15 strain probiotic. This bubbled up after 24 hours. I had a total time of 72 hours for each. rinsed and cooked. the red lentils and chickpeas both seemed to cook forever without tenderizing. They also have a very sour taste that I am not particularly fond of. I am new to fermenting grains and legumes and do not know what to make of this phenomenon. What are your thoughts on this?

Boiling Pot said...

If you want to ferment legumes, I am afraid that you can't just do it by guess and by golly. It's a good idea to try time-tested traditional recipes. These instructions for idli (Indian patties made from fermented legumes & rice) are quite detailed and informative:

http://www.vegrecipesofindia.com/idli-recipe-how-to-make-soft-idlis/

Jared said...

Stephan, thank you for this wonderful information on soaking rice to reduce phytic acid. Another important component for reducing toxins in the rice is the cooking method. By boiling the rice like pasta, it's possible to reduce the amount of arsenic that's concentrated in the rice. I recommend your soaking suggestions with the best cooking technique here: Is brow rice toxic? It all Depends

Sjon said...

Amazake,a traditional naturally sweet fermented rice beverage from Japan (non-alcoholic) is made by adding rice koji to cooked brown rice. Apparently, rice koji contains two kinds of phytase, aside from amylase, protease, and lipase (all digestive enzymes). Could koji be used to reduce phytic acids in grains? It would be a convenient way to make grains more acceptable to many: just add a tablespoon or so of koji, soak overnight and viola! This paper warrants further study: http://link.springer.com/article/10.1023%2FA%3A1005660919525#page-1

outsider9 said...

How long does it take the fats in the soaking water to become rancid?

mehra said...

@ Grace Carswell. Chickpeas are usually cooked in a pressure cooker- they otherwise take forever to get tender....and this after 24hours of soaking. We refresh the water, otherwise they tend to get awfully smelly,even after cooking.

P1 said...

Should this technique work with any kind of rice? I love black rice but have stayed away from everything except white rice because of the toxins.

P1 said...

This post suggests a fermentation method to remove phytic acid from brown rice. Another poster here "Jared" points to his blog and suggests to cook the rice 6 parts water to 1 part rice for 30 minutes, to separately remove the arsenic.

Does anyone know if the arsenic could be removed by a two hour soak at 100F with six parts water, prior to final cooking? What is the chemistry behind the arsenic removal?

My culinary preference is to finish the rice in a Japanese pressure cooker with induction oven built in. The quality of that rice far exceeds anything I could do by hand.

Alex said...

Stephan, your post refers to the 2008 paper "Effects of soaking, germination and fermentation on phytic acid...".

Some commenters have asked you for more thoughts regarding germination, I'd love to hear them!

It seems to me that the ideal would be germination, to increase nutrients; then fermentation (with your method) to decrease antinutrients.

Please do give us your informed view regarding germination!

Wendy Moss said...

Chris Keller said...
I think the part that still seemed confusing was this:

"but add the soaking liquid from the last batch".

You may want to say, "but add the soaking liquid from the previous batch to this new soaking batch, then after 24 hours, again reserve 10% of this soaking liquid and cook in freshwater."

Chris and Stephan, I hope I'm not beating this point to death, but I'm still confused as to exactly HOW MUCH (specific quantity) water.

That is, specifically how much dechlorinated water do you soak the brown rice in for the 24 hour period (let's assume we are talking about a quantity of 1 cup of dry brown rice to start with)?

And then, after you have discarded 90% of the soaking water and reserved 10% of the soaking water for future use, specifically HOW MUCH fresh water do you use to cook the soaked rice in?

Also, after soaking the rice for 24 hours, do you simply discard the soaking water and then cook in fresh water? Or do you need to actually rinse off the rice first (presumably to remove the residual phytic acid that might still be clinging to the soaked rice)?

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