Rejuvelac – The Healthiest Ferment
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!
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.
Adapted from Wild Fermentation by Sandor Katz
Yields a very full quart. Can be halved to make a pint.
- 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
- 2 cups millet or whole grain of your choice
- Filtered Water
- Put your grains in the jar and fill jar with water. Let them soak on the counter overnight, covered.
- 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).*
- 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.
- Do this until you see sprouts, little white tails, that are about the length of the grain itself.
- Then fill your half-gallon jar with water. Loosely cover the jar with its lid.
- Let it sit on the counter for 48 hours, away from sunlight. The liquid will become cloudy and have a citrusy scent.
- Strain off the liquid which is no 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.
- 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.
- 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.