Sour Millet – A Recipe from The Everyday Fermentation Handbook by Branden Byers

Today I’m going to share a fun and easy go-to recipe from The Everyday Fermentation HandbookByers and his publisher have kindly offered a copy of this book for giveaway, and you can enter on the post I wrote about that!  As I mentioned the recipes in this book strolls the line, from quick and straight forward  to straight up project. This one falls under labor-free heading and makes a right good meal.

Millet vegetable porridge

A few things you should know here: yes, you’re cooking the food which kills the probiotic bacteria (and yes, you need to cook the millet to make it edible), but there are still important benefits. In addition to making the grains taste ah-maze-ing, soaking them is important for digestion. Followers of many grain-free diets will know that phytic acid is present in grains, nuts, seeds and some other plant matter as well.  It binds up nutrients, especially minerals, and prevents us from digesting them among other things.  Long term, this is very bad and can lead to mineral deficiencies that in turn slow your metabolism, give you fatigue and all other kinds of health crap you definitely do not want to deal with.

You should have some bubbly foam on your millet.

You should have some bubbly foam on your millet.

The good news is that fermentation eradicates phytic acid and by soaking your grains, nuts and seeds, you make them more healthful and digestible and you make the other nutrients you’re consuming more absorbable as well. Yippee! There is a TON of speculation on this topic out there and also quite a bit of solid science. If you want to know more than I do, google “phytic acid” and head down the linky rabbit hole!

Cover your bowl. I dig this bee's wrap but saran wrap is fine.

Cover your bowl. I dig this bee’s wrap but saran wrap is fine.

This recipe calls for cracking the grain, which you can do by pulsing it in the food processor or, if you like to workout while you cook, crushing it with a mortar and pestle. Cracking the grain makes the sugars more available to the microbes, thus promoting fermentation. I’ve found you don’t have to do a ton of cracking, but it certainly does help!

Add a bit of protein for a delicious dinner.

Add a bit of protein for a delicious dinner.


A tasty and flexible meal!

A tasty and flexible meal!

Serves 4, Adapted from The Everyday Fermentation Handbook by Branden Byers

What I love about this recipe is that it showcases a technique that can be used for a lot of other foods. That is typical of this book. It is packed full of ideas and techniques that will get you thinking and fermenting! Branden’s original recipe is a lovely mix of veggies and this millet. I used the veggies I had on hand, and you should feel free to do the same. Think of this as a tasty porridge that can serve as the base for just about anything you crave. I haven’t tried it with baking spices and dried fruits and nuts yet, but I think that would work well especially with a shorter fermentation. You can ferment this for 1-10 days, per the author, but remember that it will get increasingly sour the longer you ferment it, so think about your added ingredients when you decide how long to let it ferment. If you choose to ferment it for longer than 4 days, you’ll need to stir the water at least daily. If you notice the water turning grey, you’ll want to change it out for fresh water.

Pretty much ready for all the raw veggies.

Pretty much ready for all the raw veggies.

For the millet bowl

  • 1 cup/200 g millet
  • water for soaking
  • 2 cups/500 ml water for cooking
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 1/2 inch ginger, peeled and minced
  • 1/2 bunch lacinato (dinosaur) kale, cut into ribbons
  • 4 carrots, sliced into thin rounds
  • Kimchi or spicy sauerkraut for garnish (optional)

For condiment sauce

Sauce to your preferred sauciness level.

Sauce to your preferred sauciness level.

  •  1/4 cup/60 ml soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup/60 ml sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • dash of fish sauce (optional)


Add as much veg as you'd like really. In the spirit of the simplicity of soaking grains, I wanted to go with the flow of what I had accessible and not already spoken for.

Add as much veg as you’d like really. In the spirit of the simplicity of soaking grains, I wanted to go with the flow of what I had accessible and not already spoken for.


  1. Crack your grains as described above. If you find pre-cracked millet, you can skip this step.
  2. Put them in a bowl and cover with water. They won’t expand much, but I like top the millet off with an inch of water to be safe from evaporation and absorption.
  3. Allow the millet to soak, covered but not sealed, at room temperature for 1-10 days, depending on how sour you want it. I did a four day soak for this recipe.
  4. Drain your millet and put it in a large saucepan, add water and cook over  medium heat for approximately 10 minutes, stirring frequently so it doesn’t clump.
  5. Add the minced garlic and shallot when most of the water is absorbed. Continue stirring.
  6. Once all of the water is absorbed and the texture of the millet is soft and somewhat like porridge, turn off the heat and stir in the remaining raw vegetables.
  7. Allow the mixture to sit and the flavors to meld while you mix together the ingredients for the condiment sauce.
  8. Serve warm in bowls and add condiment sauce and kimchi as needed for seasoning.

Note: you can replace the cooking water (NOT the soaking water) with broth if you’d like a more richly flavored final product. Just make sure to cut back on the soy sauce in the sauce if your broth has salt in it.


  1. narf77 says

    Yeah, this one I LOVE. I can’t wait to get souring. First, crack those millet grains…I might have to wait a few days for the results but that will give me time to assemble a mighty fine range of accouterments to top this promise of tastiness. Cheers for the wonderful fermented share :)

  2. Kristin says

    This is a great article, I discovered it because I have been wondering if you are supposed to rinse and drain the grains after fermentation, before cooking? I’m wondering if draining the soaking water is a necessary step? Thanks!

    • Amanda says

      Hi Kristin,

      I’m not 100% sure I understand the question, so please correct me if I’m answering the wrong thing. The soaking liquid may be a little funky or thick, but other than that, there’s no reason I can think of that you can’t just use that as part of your cooking liquid.

      I hope that helps!


      • kristin says

        Hi Amanda, thats exactly what I was wondering. I wasn’t sure if the soaking liquid contained the phytic acid and anti nutrients therefore should always be discarded or if it became sour and the liquid contained probiotics and should be used for cooking. I guess the probiotics would be destroyed during cooking anyway.

  3. Remy says

    thank you !
    I have tried to make porridge with wheat flour, which becomes quickly sour, but when i cook it, i find the taste very bland, the heat destroys that spirited tangy taste ; actually i prefer to drink it “raw”
    I was wondering why the heat kills the acidity… Have you any idea ?
    Nonetheless, the fermentation time was still quite short – less than 48 hours – and maybe going longer would result in an acid cooked porridge.

    • Amanda says

      Hi Remy,

      I can’t say that I’ve had the same experience! To my knowledge, there is nothing inherently alkalinizing in cooking. I usually find my cooked, fermented grains to be quite tangy!

      You may want to try fermenting a bit longer before cooking and see if that helps. Otherwise, I’m sorry, but I really don’t know!

  4. joseph wandera says

    What method can i use to terminate/end fermentation if i am making millet porridge to be packed in plastic bottles. The soaking/fermenting is for 3 days maximum

    • Amanda says

      Hi Joseph,

      If you’re looking to make it shelf stable, I have 0 knowledge of how to do that safely. Although I was really into canning about a decade ago, I never got into pressure canning, so I don’t know about low acid foods.

      Cooking the porridge will halt fermentation, but it should be stored in the fridge after cooking and eaten within a few days, as with any other cooked meal.

      I’m not sure if that answers your question, but I hope it does!


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