Rejuvelac – The Healthiest Ferment

Cloudy rejuvelac made from millet

Spent sprouts and a cloudy cuppa rejuvenation!

 

I was bold.  I said it.  I think rejuvelac is the healthiest ferment.  Or at least the most difficult to quibble with.  No added salt, no added sugar, phytic acid broken, full of our good friend the lactobacillus.  Nothing for anyone to complain about.  Right?  Please?  Seriously.

Now I’ll tell you the part that can sound less good depending on your hippie cred: rejuvelac is fermented grain sprout drink.  Mmmmmmmm.  But don’t knock it ’til you’ve tried it.  The flavor can range from citrusy to cheesy to straight up funk depending on the grain you use, the fermentation time and the number of “pressings” you get from your grains.  You can use a variety of grains to make rejuvelac.  Most recipes I’ve seen recommend rye, barley or wheat for rejuvelac.  I enjoy a ryejuvelac most, but that’s not what we’re fermenting here.  Here, I chose millet, for a few reasons.  First, I wanted to make this recipe gluten-free for friends who suffer from gluten-intolerance or celiac, or paleo friends.  Strictly speaking no grains are paleo, but most paleos I know will eat sprouted grain in small quantities, and in this case, you aren’t even eating the sprouted grains, just their probiotic juice.  Second, it has a little bit of a cheesy taste to it, which I normally don’t enjoy in my beverages, but is perfect for what we’re going to use it for on Monday. (That’s a surprise: I’m sure you haven’t guessed!)  Millet also sprouts relatively quickly, within 2 days, and I liked that, since in this case it’s going to be part of a several step process.

It’s pretty easy to make, and if you’re accustomed to sprouting, it’s extremely easy to make.  If you want rejuvelac for drinking, I would recommend subbing wheat, barley or rye for the millet in this recipe, but what do I know?  Maybe you’ll love the taste of millet sprout juice and want to stick with that!   My husband drinks it with pleasure.  You can definitely play around with other grains and see what you like.  I haven’t experimented too far beyond the four I listed, at least not successfully, but go nuts, and let me know what works for you!

Start with organic, whole grains.  Your fermenty friends here are, again, those old lactobacilli that live on the surface of the things that grow on the earth, including grains.

First, you have to sprout the grains.  That involves a process of soaking and draining and allowing air to circulate around your grains for a period of hours to days.  My millet sprouted in a little over a day but it could take longer.  I found this handy chart of soaking and sprouting times so that you can play around with abandon.  Use those as to give you a general idea.  They have not always sprouted exactly at the rates listed there for me, so hold out until you can see the little, white, telltale tails that tell you your sprout is ready to go!

 

Wheat berries being partially inverted for sprouting

The Sally Method – My personal preference.  This jar could actually stand to be propped a little higher.  Like maybe fold that cloth once more.

 

Full inversion of a jar to sprout grains

This is how you Sandor-sprout.  Also works fine.

 

The sprouting process requires a jar  with a lid and a wide-weave cloth.  I found a nifty metal-mesh jar cover for sprouting at my local natural foods store, Essene, and I actually liked it better than my old way of using a wide-weave cloth or doubled cheese cloth, but that way works too.  My no-equipment mantra stands: try it with the stuff you have lying around your house. If you like doing it and find it might be valuable to have a little screen for sprouting, then by all means, spend the $1.99 for the screen.

 

Sprouting grains for rejuvelac

This sprouting screen cost me a couple bucks. It’s not necessary for great sprouts! I just found it a little neater

 

Sprouting grains in a cheesecloth-covered jar

Sprouting with a veil of cheesecloth is one option

REJUVELAC

Adapted from Wild Fermentation by Sandor Katz

Yields a very full quart.  Can be halved to make a pint.

Equipment

  • Half-gallon jar , you can use other sizes for other quantities
  • Cloth, mesh, screen that will allow water out and air in, but prohibit bug entry

Ingredients

  • 2 cups millet or whole grain of your choice
  • Filtered Water

How-to

  1. Put your grains in the jar and fill jar with water. Let them soak on the counter overnight, covered.
  2. In the morning, dump out the water out, rinse the grains, dump again, and lay the jar at an angle, so that any remaining water leaks out, and air can flow in (see photos).*
  3. Rinse, dump and tilt at least once more that day.  Ideally as soon as you get home from work then again before bed.  You don’t want your grains to dry out, but you don’t want them sitting in water either.
  4. Do this until you see sprouts, little white tails, that are about the length of the grain itself.
  5. Then fill your half-gallon jar with water.
  6. Let it sit on the counter for 48 hours, away from sunlight.  The liquid will become cloudy and have a citrusy scent.
  7. Strain off the liquid.  That’s rejuvelac!  Add more water to the grains for second batch.  Just like rebrewing tea, you’ll get an entirely different flavor profile from the second batch.  You’ll want to give that a shorter soak time, about one day.
  8. Once I’ve strained off that second batch, I consider the grains spent. Batch 3 is much too funky for me, but according to Mr. Katz, some people dig it.
  9. Compost your sprouts.

*I’ve tried this two ways: completely inverting the jar over another container (Sandor) and slightly inverting it at an angle (Sally). I’ve had better results with the Sally, although I’m normally  more a Sandor-fan than a Sally-lady. Complete inversion was a little easier, though  Try both and see what works for you.

 

Sprouted Millet

See those tails? That means it sprouted.

Ferment

38 comments

  1. Zuzka O. says:

    I know, that i´m annoying, but rejuvelac is quite risky ferment. Because there are no salt or any preservatives, what will help grow only to friendly microbes. All sprouted stuff are as risky as raw meat, probably more – because sprouting is perfect environment for any microbes – most of sprouts are infected by mold and not the good one.

    For prevention – use a starter in soaking water and increase an acidity – by tablespoon of vinegar or lemon juice. And rince by cold water regularly and as often as you can. And still it is risky.

    • Amanda says:

      Not at all annoying. I encourage people to voice their opinions. However, it isn’t just the salt that creates an unfriendly environment for pathogenic bacteria. It’s also the lactic acid created in the fermentation process and that is very abundant in rejuvelac (this is why you can pickle vegetables without salt, merely through the creation of anaerobic conditions). I would argue that rejuvelac is even safer than sprouts, given that the sprouts are being soaked in an acidic liquid.

      I thoroughly enjoy eating sprouts and I always have. I am careful to make them from grains and seeds that come from sources I trust. I definitely understand that some people are freaked out by sprouts, and that some consider them a risky food. That would definitely be a reason for an individual to find something else to ferment, and I totally respect that. But as I said, I’ve never had a problem, and increasing the acidity too much with vinegar or lemon juice could neutralize the probiotic bacteria (and also doesn’t eliminate the risk for pathogens; on irradiation can do that), completely defeating the purpose for me (and preventing my rejuvelac from serving as a culture for other fermented foods).

      Fresh produce carries the burden of an infinitely higher risk of E. coli and other contamination than the sterilized foods that come out of a factory in neat little packages that end up in the freezer section. I still choose fresh produce, because I think those sterilized foods are the problem, not the solution. I apply the same risk analysis to my sprout consumption, but I whole-heartedly support everyone’s right to decide what they want to eat and how they want to eat it!

  2. donna says:

    Isn’t this method safer because it isn’t anaerobic? Doesn’t salt help? Confused but interested. I made salt preserved sauerkraut recently and added apple cider vinegar to be safe. I’m interested in rejuvelac for a lot of reasons and would like to make the vegan cheese in punkdomestics..com

    • Amanda says:

      Hi Donna,

      Yes, salt can prohibit some pathogenic bacteria (and at reasonable levels) it doesn’t impact the lactic acid bacteria that we need to make fermentation happen. That’s one of many reasons that it’s a great fermentation assistant!
      I do not add any vinegar to my sauerkraut because it can definitely negatively impact fermentation. Fermentation is a process. The bacteria necessary for fermentation ebb and flow and the bacteria that start that process are not as acid-tolerant as the bacteria that are around at the end. Starting with a really acidic environment can kill the bacteria you want present! Also, honestly, the fermentation process will do the job of eliminating any pathogenic bacteria in kraut. You definitely do not need vinegar.

      The same thing goes for rejuvelac. If you add vinegar, you’re kind of defeating the purpose and very possibly defeating the process. Generally speaking the lactic acid created during fermentation will win out over any pathogenic bacteria. This is all from my reading and primarily from my reading of Sandor Katz’ work. People that are nervous about rejuvelac and generally the people who are nervous about sprouting in general. I can understand that fear based on the issues that have occurred in the past, and I would recommend that if that’s something you are nervous about that you NOT make rejuvelac. I enjoy it, and I love sprouting. I’ve never had a problem and I find sprouts to be a delicious and nutritious addition to my meals! Furthermore, if I didn’t eat any of the foods that had been contaminated due to horrible agricultural practices in recent years, I’d have little left to enjoy. But again, I’m working from my comfort level and I think everyone should decide what to eat and what not to eat based on her own comfort level.

      I see these risks as reasons to be careful about the kind of food I buy and the source of that food, and not as a reason to avoid nutritious foods that I love. If you decide you aren’t comfortable making rejuvelac, I would recommend trying to make some kvass, water kefir or even using a ginger bug (generally people don’t fear those as much as sprouts) and using those as your starters instead. They will flavor, color and add sugar or salt your cheese in a way that rejuvelac doesn’t, but hey, that could be fun too!

      Good luck!

  3. donna says:

    Thankyou Amanda, for your quick and helpful response. Also your info. About fermentation is helpful. I am going through a kind of Renaissance with food. I live on a semi trailer truck and we get motels once a week where I make a go at food magic. I’ve been having a blast! I’ve made tofu, herbed dairy cheese, sauerkraut, preserved lemons and harvested wild foods like nopales.
    I’m not that nervous about making rejuvelac…but a bit confused about use of an acidic element. I’m not aware of sprouting dangers…and my partner and I want to sprout so rejuvelac seems a good next step. We are disgusted with the big dairy industry….so vegan cheese would be welcome!
    Also, flour and dough is fun…have you heard of using juniper berries to make a sourdough starter? Eventually when I get back to New Mexico I want to try that. I guess the light bluish tint on the berries is a yeast.
    Anyway, your site is great and I am very happy to have found it!
    Thankyou so much for your response, info and help overall! :-)

    • Amanda says:

      Hey Donna,
      Just to follow up on the salt: salt isn’t used in rejuvelac (at least not in my experience) but it is really helpful for vegetable fermentation and not just in terms of flavor. It does create an environment that isn’t super favorable to undesirable microbes, it helps strengthen the pectins in cell walls, which gives you a crispier product. It slows fermentation which ultimately preserves the product longer. If you’re interested in hearing some specifics on salt related to fermentation, here’s a podcast I like that recently did an episode about it. I haven’t gotten to that one yet, but it’s always a good show, so worth checking out! http://fermup.com/podcast/23/
      Podcasts are great when you’re on the road.

      Your experiments sound awesome! I love nopales, though I’ve never had the experience of fermenting them.

      I’m with you on big dairy. I feel lucky have access to local milk from smaller, organic dairies here in Philly and I recently had the chance to visit some awesome creameries in the area that are doing some stuff that seems crazy innovative in caring for their herds. Of course that means it’s hundreds of years old :-).

      Anyway, thanks for reading and for your kind words about my site. Happy sprouting and experimenting!

      Best,

      Amanda

  4. Ann says:

    Okay, I think you are making me want to give rejuvelac a try again. I last tried it last summer with rye berries. Not bad, but it was more like a chore for me to drink it. (kimchee juice, on the other hand, makes me start to salivate just thinking about it.)
    I’ll try the millet in the next week or so and let you know!:)

    • Amanda says:

      Hey Ann,
      I don’t love drinking the millet one, personally. I like rye best, but wheat and barley are good too. My husband digs the millet, but for me it’s a little cheesy! I made it with the “cheesy” grain so that I could culture my vegan cheese with it! Still, good stuff from a gut perspective! Don’t feel bad if you don’t love it. We all come across a ferment we don’t like from time to time. It’s cool! Maybe your body is telling you that’s not the right thing for you. Or maybe you should give it another shot. What do I know? :-)

  5. I think that the germ paranoia is what makes people in this country so susceptible to them!! Americans can barely leave their native soil and they immediately get sick! I think a small amount of bacteria is completely ok in a natural environment, and it is supposed to keep your immune system active and responsive…kinda like a vaccine!!!
    The one thing that you might be afraid of is a mold overgrowth, but that should be prevented by keeping your sprouts well rinsed and drained!
    This is a very interesting fermentation that I have not tried yet, and I can not wait!!! Thank you for the recipe!

    • Amanda says:

      You know I agree, Vivica! And yes, keeping your sprouts rinsed and drained during sprouting is essential! Thanks so much!

  6. Dyanne says:

    Just made Rejuvelac for the first time; it is covered with fuzzy white hairs? Is this still safe to drink? Did I do something wrong?

    • Amanda says:

      Hi Dyanne,

      Unfortunately fuzz=mold, and I would definitely not drink that. I have actually never heard of mold on the rejuvelac liquid before (I’m TOTALLY certain that it’s happened to plenty of people, but I’ve never had a tale of that shared with me before). Typically the problems of mold occur during the sprouting phase, and that’s because they grains weren’t properly drained and rehydrated during sprouting.
      If you got surface mold on your drink, that would indicate that it fermented for too long, if I had to make a guess. Is the temperature in your home very warm?

      We’ve all had failed batches of one thing or another. Don’t be discouraged!

      Amanda

  7. Barbara says:

    Your ‘recipe’ is spot on with one missing step. I learned to make rejuvelac at the Optimum Health Institute, which is pretty faithful to the work of Ann Wigmore. They teach blending the sprouts for a very brief time (5 seconds or a) just to crack them open a bit before fermenting. For those concerned about the safety of these foods, the advice on this site is just right. Follow the instructions and you have many benefits to look forward to!!

  8. Adam says:

    Hi!

    I’m trying this for the first time now. I bought a clear plastic sprouting thing on impulses from a health food store. I use it to sprout, obviously, and am not fermenting with a metal topped glass salsa jar which I knives some holes into.

    One thing, is it possible to let them sprout too much? Mine sprouts are almost twice the siE of the wheat berry.

    Adam

    • Amanda says:

      I’ve never had a batch of rejuvelac that was as fizzy as kombucha, but fizziness is a normal part of the fermentation process, owing to the gasses that are created through the breakdown of sugars, so just count yourself lucky! I’m so glad you like it!

  9. Jennn says:

    Can you use hulled millet for this (I plan to use this for making the cashew cheese and not for drinking)? I’m having a hard time finding unhulled millet locally, and online it costs as much to ship as it costs to buy the seed. :)

  10. chris says:

    ive done this with spelt. end result smells sweet like a strawberry, has a mild refreshing flavor.

    a white foam develops on the surface, which i spoon off before straining. this is normal according to the recipe in the nourishing traditions cookbook.

    it helps me bounce back from a night of smoking and drinking.

  11. Creativewarrior says:

    How long does the rejuvelac keep? I’m using it to make the cashew cheese, but don’t need this much at once time.

    Thanks for this great info! I’m super excited to get this started. Very helpful!

    • Amanda says:

      Hi Amy,
      It’s really a question of tolerance. It will keep in the fridge for a while, but it gets more sour as time goes by. It can also get a bit of a slimy texture when it sits. I personally like to drink mine within two weeks at the absolute max, but I’m picky about the taste!

  12. Princess says:

    Wow! Weeks?
    I’ve never kept it longer than 5 days.
    But now I am drinking it every morning so it won’t lat that long, but that’s very interesting to me.
    The fermenting process stops with refrigeration, yes?
    And it’s ok to hold in the fridge that long? Huh, learn something every day I say!
    Thank!

    • Amanda says:

      Hi Princess,

      As with all fermenting processes, using your senses to determine if something is good to consume is always the best route. Personally, I’ve kept large batches of rejuvelac in my fridge for culturing things for months. Again, that’s part preference and part using my own judgment. And there is definitely still some fermentation happening in the fridge. Although the fridge slows activity, most things will continue to (lacto) ferment in the fridge!

  13. Creativewarrior says:

    Thanks, Amanda!
    Another question… I started my millet, following the instructions, rinsing 2-3x a day. On day 2 I saw a couple of small tails starting. It’s day 3 now and there are suddenly lots of really long tails (2-3″) overnight! But I would say that only about 1/8 of the grains have tails. There is also a very strong smell over powering my kitchen which I cannot tell whether or not is questionable. Kinda smells like a mix of citrus and garbage, haha.

    Is this normal? Are they finished and ready for soaking? Did they turn bad somehow and I should start over? The temperatures here were unusually cold then unusually warm over the last couple of days, and I’m wondering if that affected having a normal sprouting cycle. (I also had a batch of kombucha turn rancid yesterday)

    BTW, I am experienced with sprouting and fermenting, if that makes any difference. This one is just confusing me ;)

    • Amanda says:

      Hi Amy,

      Garbage smell is definitely not a good thing, and you want to start the rejuvelac when you start to see tails. It sounds like they stayed too wet and went a bit too long. Is it possible that there were drainage issues? I’m not particularly experienced with sprouting – I only do it for rejuvelac – but you can definitely apply the same principles you know from that practice to this one in terms of smell issues.

      I hope that doesn’t mean you have to ditch this batch :-(!

      Amanda

  14. Dru says:

    I was curious if you can replace the rejuvelac with a probiotic tablet? Why or why not and if you have a ratio to it? Thanks!

    • Amanda says:

      Hi Dru,

      I have no experience with probiotic tablets, so unfortunately I have no idea whether or not they would ferment anything at all. I’m not exactly sure what you mean by “replace” rejuvelac, though. If you just want specific probiotic strains in your diet, probiotic tablets are probably a good choice. Fermented foods tend to be “messier” by which I mean that there are a variety of bacterial strains making the foods acidic and bacteria rich.

      Sorry I can’t be of more help!

      Amanda

  15. Jamest says:

    I’ve used both for cashew cheese. I’ve used probiotic capsules from vitacost with something like 8 billion cultures and I also ground capsules from a rite aid 2 million capsule. It works very well. The taste is clean, it is controlled probiotics. I want to try rejuvelac again… My first experiment was with wheat berries and the smell was suspicious. Now that I have read more I want to try quinoa or millet. Maybe brown rice. With the capsules, open them, use 2 capsules per 1 cups of soaked nuts. Use small amount of warm water to start like you would with bread making and yeast.

    • Amanda says:

      Hi Clell,

      No, unfortunately I can’t. I would recommend starting slowly, especially if you’re new to fermented foods. They can have a strong effect on the body that is usually fantastic, but sometimes people who over-consume early in the process experience some digestive discomfort. I would let your body be your guide. If you drink, say, a shot daily for a week or two and feel great, double it! If a shot seems sufficient, stick with that. It’s really all about preference and how it makes you feel.

      Happy fermenting!

    • Amanda says:

      Hi Constance,

      Are you referring to my mailing list? If so, you can sign up for the list or lists of your choosing at the top of this page.

      Thanks for reading!

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