Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Sprouted Brown Rice

If you haven't seen it yet, you will soon. Sprouted brown rice is all the rage.

What is it? Sprouted brown rice, known as hatsuga genmai in Japanese, is brown rice that is allowed to germinate by soaking the rice before cooking.

The process of germination enhances the bio-availability of nutrients by neutralizing phytic acid, the enzyme inhibitor in all grains, seeds and beans, that bind nutrients within the grain until the conditions are right for the grain to sprout. Consumption of unsprouted grains can lead to poor absorption of the nutrients in the grain. The incompletely digested proteins can irritate the intestines, leading to inflammation and allergic reactions. Neutralizing the phytic acid, releases the protein, vitamins and enzymes, allowing these important nutrients to be absorbed during digestion.

Traditionally, grains have almost always been soaked, sprouted or fermented before eaten. In Europe, bread was carefully cultured and fermented over a long period of time before being baked. In Africa, the staple grain millet has traditionally been soaked and fermented before being cooked into a porridge. In Scotland and Ireland, whole oats were always soaked overnight before cooking into a breakfast porridge, although we have lost that tradition in modern times with our instant oatmeal. In Asia, brown rice and millet traditionally were rinsed, then soaked overnight before cooking. Even today, the typical Japanese housewife knows to soak her rice before cooking.

In Japan there has recently been renewed interest in sprouted rice thanks to a number of recent scientific studies done on gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), a naturally occurring amino acid created during the germination process. The consumption of GABA is credited with important health benefits that range from lowering cholesterol and blood pressure, boosting the immune system, improving sleep, and inhibition of cancer cells.

So it makes good sense to soak and sprout your rice. Both from the perspective of tradition and science.

And it is easy to do. Any kind of brown rice will work (white rice won't work because the part of the rice that germinates has been removed). In the picture above, I have sprouted basmati brown rice (you can see the tiny sprouts in the picture). Here is the process:

1. Rinse 1 1/2 cups (or more if desired) brown rice several times until the water is clear.

2. Place the rice in a bowl and cover well with filtered water.

3. Let stand 12 hours or overnight.

4. Pour rice into a strainer and rinse well.

5. Set the strainer over a bowl to drain out of direct sunlight. Cover with a clean dishtowel.

6. Every 12 hours, rinse the rice well.

7. After 24 to 48 hours, small sprouts will appear. Use or refrigerate the rice until ready to use.

8. Cook as you would cook unsprouted brown rice, using slightly less water (for the 1 1/2 cups of rice in this recipe, use 2 cups water). The cooking time will also be shorter.

Sprouted brown rice has a pleasant nutty taste, and is less heavy and noticeably more digestible compared to unsprouted rice.

If you don't want to spout your own, you can find germinated brown rice at some natural foods markets and on-line. DHC, a Japanese health and beauty company, sells germinated brown rice on their website. Also, Zojirushi, a Japanese appliance manufacturer, sells several rice cookers with a built in 'GABA' feature that sprouts the rice for you during the cooking process.

59 comments:

Sheltie Girl said...

This is a wonderful description of how to sprout rice. I'll have to try it the next time I cook rice.

Sheltie Girl @ Gluten A Go Go

Becky said...

Thanks Sheltie Girl. It's really easy, and there's something magic about seeing the rice sprout.

the veggie paparazzo said...

Good info! Thanks for posting it.

Layan said...

Hi Becky,

Great post, a lot easier that other methods I've seen. I haven't sprouted rice since primary school in the Caribbean, and that was one grain! lol. How would you suggest sprouting on cold days??

Becky said...

I've never had a problem sprouting rice on colder days. Like any other sprout, they need to be warm enough to germinate (65-70 degrees is ideal), but indoor temperatures are usually sufficient for germination.

Carrie said...

Thank you! I love love the Trader Joe's gf Sprouted brown rice with seaweed. I'm dying to make my own now.

Marki said...

OK just started my first batch of gaba rice. Made some green tea, and am using my rice cooker on warm setting for the first 12 hours of germination. Will keep you all posted on how it goes.

Marki said...

OK...Day two and no sprouting...any suggestions?

Becky said...

Did it sprout? I have never tried warming rice in the rice cooker.

Marki said...

nope didn't sprout...I have tried two different times and no sprouting...Maybe I am using the wrong type of Brown rice????

Becky said...

Any brown rice should sprout. Maybe your rice is old (it may not sprout if it is more than a year old)? Or maybe using the rice cooker makes it too hot? Or you are leaving it in water to long? Or the green tea acid keeps it from sprouting? I've never tried using a rice cooker to sprout rice. In Japan, some rice cookers have a setting to make GABA rice. Those rice cookers heat the rice to start the germination process (usually for 4 hours or so) then cooks the rice. I don't heat the rice, I cover rice with room temp filtered water. Then drain the water after 12 hours and place rice to sprout in a strainer covered with a towel. I rinse every 12 hours or so and it sprouts in 24 to 48 hours. I've never had a problem with this method. The only time my rice didn't sprout was when I forgot about it and it sat in water on my counter for a day and a half. It had started to ferment and had a slightly sour smell. I tried rinsing but it never sprouted. Hope this helps.

Marki said...

OK that is exactly what I am doing wrong....I left it in the water expecting it to sprout in the water...Ok, so I am going to try again with out the green tea the way you have told me and we will see how it goes. I have read that the Green tea increases the GABA in the rice and adds polyphenols that was why I was trying it that way. Wish me luck I will continue to try. I LOVE this stuff.

Becky said...

Good luck Marki !

Gregory said...

The keep warm setting on most rice cookers is 140 F or higher, which will terminate the germination.

Gregory said...

Also, I bought a Zojirushi rice cooker with a GABA setting and would like to remind others that soaking brown rice in 104 F water for 2 hours won't accomplish that much whether a machine does it or not.

Marki said...

I finally got my rice to sprout with a 12 hour soak in just room temp filtered water then draining it, rinsing it and covering it with a damp paper towel for another 24 hours. Beautifully Sprouted nutty flavor. LOVE IT!

Aux Port Modulators said...

I was thinking of buying a GABA Zojirushi rice cooker, but it seems like the GABA rice cookers do not drain the water at all. So i plan to buy the non-GABA Zojirushi rice cooker.

My question is, when you get to the "straining rice stage" do you ever soak it water again? Or do you just rinse the rice every 12 hours until it sprouts?

Becky said...

Just rinse every 12 hours until it sprouts. No need to soak again.

obie-who said...

Hi, Becky! Japan is my second home and your recipes are "natsukasi", but with a new twist. I was hoping I could share two products with you and your readers that you may find very interesting!? Basically, I had the idea of producing and selling Sprouted Rice and Sprouted Rice Flour here in America. Fortunately, another company had the same idea and we joined forces to make these awesome new forms of rice available in bulk form for stores like Whole Foods, Mother's Market and Co-ops. If I can share more with you about these products, please let me know...
Arigatou

Bob said...

I just finished my first bowl of sprouted rice with some soy sauce on it-not bad but a little stinky! I think I made the mistake of after soaking 24 hours I drained but then let it sit in a dish with a little water in the bottom so it got a little funky smelling. Next time I will do as this author says and leave it in the strainer so there will be no excess water and rinse every few hours.
I have been living in Thailand for the past 7 years. Interestingly, very few Thais eat whole grain brown rice...it is associated with poverty [like riding a bicycle]. They eat "cow suey" [ beautiful rice] or " cow neow" [ sticky rice] but both are just processed white rice. I'm always joking with my Thai wife who was raised on a rice farm that I [American] have to teach the Thia's all about rice - LOL!

obie-who said...

Yes, white rice is still king in Asia...where they do it oh, so well! The last time I was in Japan, I had sprouted rice that was semi-polished. It was being produced commercially by a small farm in Kyushyu. It was, by far, the best tasting rice I have ever had! And, the texture was just perfect. Sol Grains, our brand of Sprouted Rice that we are selling here in America is fully brown, but we hope to offer white and partially milled sometime in the future...as it makes for great sprouted sushi rice!

sparklingdimness said...

hi,

the dish towel u meant, need to be wet? and is it covering the strainer itself(leaving an air space in betwwen the towel n rice) or put on top of the rice(which will limit air supply)?

thank you

Becky said...

Hi Sparkling Dimness. In answer to your question, use a clean, dry towel. Lay it over the strainer, so that there is air between the towel and rice. Hopes this helps ! -Becky

Unang said...

5. "Set the strainer over a bowl to drain out of direct sunlight. Cover with a clean dishtowel."

Hi sorry my english understanding is poor. Please help me understand. Thank you very much.

-- Hi What does out of direct sunlight mean?

--If the bowl has some water because of strained rice do i need to throw the water?

--Covering around the strainer or on top of hole?

Unang said...

2. Place the rice in a bowl and cover well with filtered water.

-- I will be placing it in a stainless steel bowl. Do i need to put the glass cover on the bowl?

Becky said...

Hi Unang,
Thank you for your questions. I will try to answer them here. If you have any more questions, please feel free to ask.
--Out of direct sunlight -- means leave the bowl in a place that is not sunny.
--If the bowl has some water because of strained rice do i need to throw the water? If there is a small amount of water, you do not need to throw out the water. The rice should be in the strainer over the bowl. A small amount of water will drip out of the rice from the strainer into the bowl.
--Covering around the strainer or on top of hole? Cover the opening of the strainer with a cloth or dishtowel.
-- I will be placing it in a stainless steel bowl. Do I need to put the glass cover on the bowl? No, do not put a glass cover on the bowl, you need air to circulate to sprout the rice.
Good luck,
Becky

Ling said...

Hi,

A few questions.

Does it matter how much rice I try to sprout? Basically, after the soaking process, does it need to be somewhat near the open air surface of the strainer so it could aerate?

If I put the rice in the fridge for some time before cooking it, does it not lose its water weight, therefore, wouldn't I have to revert back to the dry weight measurement?

I have a Tiger rice cooker that cooks GABA pre-sprouted rice. Why would there be a difference in the settings, especially if it doesn't know whether I put pre-sprouted rice or sprouted it myself (one being dry, the other having absorbed water).

Becky said...

Hi Ling. Thank you for your questions.
It does not matter how much rice you try to sprout. The process is the same. The rice is a seed and the seed will sprout if you give it the correct conditions for it to germinate.
The main idea of the strainer is to keep the rice from sitting in water (water drips out of the rice into the bowl); water causes the rice ferment instead of germinate. So this is what you want to watch out for during this stage of the process.
As for the refrigerator, I have not stored my rice this way. If you do, it should last 5 to 7 days, similar to any other type of sprout (such as a bean sprout). Because it has been sprouted it will use less water to cook than dry or unsprouted rice.
I have not used a Tiger rice cooker, so I can't help you there. You may want to call the manufacturer? My understanding about GABA settings in general is that the rice cooker soaks the rice for a sufficient period of time to just begin germination.

Ling said...

Thanks for the info.

The Tiger rice cooker says how to cook "Sprouted Brown Rice", so I guess it is to cook rice that has germinated, instead of germinating it in the rice cooker. I will experiment once I have sprouted a batch successfully.

One more question, I usually buy rice that has the husk polished off, but the germ is still on. Are these sproutable?

Becky said...

Ling,
I cook sprouted rice in my rice cooker on the brown rice setting with no problem using 1 1/2 cups water instead of the usual 2 cups per cup of regular brown rice (I don't have a GABA setting on my rice cooker). It comes out about the same as cooking it on the stove.
I am guessing that the GABA setting on your rice cooker is to germinate the rice in the rice cooker. Generally speaking, the GABA setting soaks the rice for 2 or so hours a around 104 degrees to initiate the germination process. You will not see a 'sprout' but the GABA amino acids are activated in the process. Once the rice has soaked, the rice cooker cooks the rice in the usual fashion.
Brown rice has the husk removed (the husk is not edible), but the bran and germ remain intact. So long as the germ is still attached, it will sprout.

Leng said...

Does anyone know if Thailand jasmine brown rice will sprout? I live in US. I soak mine in tea and it doesn't sprout, not sure if it the tea or they been sterile. Thank

RawVegan said...

Hello! I am very interested in learning more about this process, to increase nutrients and decrease anti-nutrients. Can you tell me your source(s) so I can follow-up for more information?

Thanks!

Cara said...

for the benefits of sprouted brown rice without having to sprout it yourself, you can now get sprouted brown rice more readily. try shoporganic.com to have it shipped to you.

naomilovestom said...

I followed the instructions on www.instructables.com to make germinated brown rice, mostly because that was the only place I could find for instructions. They did state there that using green tea is favorable for the reasons mentioned by another poster above. However, they do instruct to germinate rice by placing it in water or green tea and keeping it at a temperature between 85 and 105 degrees. The rice actually does sprout in the water in about 16 to 24 hours. Soaking in the tea also helps prevent the water from becoming "stinky". I have done this method, but have to say your method seems much easier. I had to figure out how to maintain that temperature using a warming tray, constantly monitoring the temperature to make sure it doesn't get too hot or too cold. Actually my rice never did sprout, although it did become plump and I could see the sprout just about to emerge. I will try your method next time.

I did about two pounds of rice and then put it in the freezer so that I would have some ready to go next time I want rice (haven't quite gotten into the swing of planning ahead just yet I'm afraid). Do you know of any reason that freezing would not be a good idea?

Leng said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Leng said...

Thai Jasmine brown rice didn't germinate for me. Bought some local brown rice and they germinated. Soak in green tea for 12 hours. Drain and place behind power supply of my computer to maintain temp and they sprout in less than 12 hours. Not sure thermal pollution from my computer is healthy or not though.

RawVegan said...

I am going to try steaming some sprouted rice with a cheesecloth-lined colander. Anyone tried something like this?

FunkyDory said...

Thanks. I got some GBR waiting for the pot. I used an indeterminate amount (just filled my strainer) of rice, so: any ideas on proportions? 4:3 water:GBR?

SuperAnth said...

The sprouting process sounds labor intensive. Is there a way to encourage sprouting without the constant rinsing? It sounds like the rice-cooker just lets the rice sit until cooking...

HL said...

In my experience, freezing the rice seemed to actually help it germinate. I soaked it in warm green tea in a bowl set on an electric blanket. I covered it with a box to keep it in the dark and to trap the heat. In less than ten hours the rice sprouted. Maybe freezing simulated conditions in the wild?

The Drifter said...

Hi, I just want to say that most of this work in sprouting can be eliminated.

I am sprouting rice in only 12 hours.

I only soak it overnight then put it in my Easy Sprouter. I don't even have to rinse the rice either.

wwww.sproutamo.com

I don't sell these - I just use them . Best invention ever. Save yourself the time and effort.

Ashley said...

Thanks for the great instructions!

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breando said...

Thanks for this post, there's not much info out there about sprouting Brown Rice.
I'm actually looking to do it to make my own raw protein powder for weight training. After germination the protein content is released and quite high apparently. Is anyone else out there doing it for this reason too and has any tips on processing it after it germinates?

Susan said...

Yes, Thanks for this post - Good info in sprouting!
S

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somnamblst said...

I just sprouted rice using a hybrid method that just occurred to me to try.

I make yogurt by putting a lidded casserole on a heating pad on low, with a bit of newsppaer in between and a tea towel on top.

For the rice, I rinsed it then soaked it for about 8 hours, drained it, and placed it back in the casserole dish on top of the heating pad, with a bit more newspaper between and no tea towel covering it.

In a little over 24 hours my rice has begun to sprout. Because my rice is wet, but not sitting in water, there is no stink.

really this is how I would sprout mungbeans, so I figured the soaking did not need to exceed the initial 12 hours, and in my case I only soaked for 8 hours.

Steven said...

This is by far the best recipe I've seen for sprouted brown rice. But my procedure may be more streamlined. I use one cup brown rice as my starting point, but you can scale up as you need.

INGREDIENTS
1 cup brown rice
water

INSTRUCTIONS
1. Add 1 cup brown rice into room temperature water. About 1/2 inch water should cover the brown rice. Let soak for 12-hours. (Some prefer to soak the rice for 18 hours, but that's about the limit.)
2. After the 12 hour soaking period, drain the water and leave the sprouting brown rice in a sieve. Cover with plastic or a wet cloth, and leave in a darkened place for 12 hours.
3. When the 12 hours have passed, rinse the sprouting rice. Leave the sprouting rice in sieve for another 12 hours.
4. So far, about two days have passed. Now, you have several options. You can refrigerate the sprouted rice for a few days until you're ready to use it. OR You can cook the rice. Boil 2 cups water, then add the sprouted rice. After cooking for 1/2 hour, take the rice off the stove, but leave covered for ten minutes.
5. The brown is ready to eat, or save to a container. The sprouted brown rice should be moist, with separated grains, and a subtly nutty taste.

SousVideMagic said...

Just a quick question.
Why should we make our own Gaba rice when one can buy dry Gaba rice? I will sure make our own Gaba rice if freshly germinated Gaba is better than dry varieties. Any information on this is much appreciated.

stvnchng said...

Does anyone know what the GABA content of sprouted brown rice versus brown rice cooked using a rice cooker in GABA mode is?

stvnchng said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
mr2sticks said...

Yeah, I have a Zojurushi cooker with GABA and wondered just how exactly the cooker sprouts rice in a few hours compared with traditional sprouting rice over a few days. Can't imagine that the cooker is gong to cause much sprouting... Anybody?

mr2sticks said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Marki said...

mr2sticks, I don't see how that is possible other than the very very beginning of the process. But that is just my opinion.

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Christine Eubanks said...

"Traditionally, grains have almost always been soaked, sprouted or fermented before eaten."

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