The process of sprouting grains is a fairly simple one. Converting these grains to bread, however, requires removing the moisture from the freshly-sprouted grain and then grinding it into flour which can be used for baking.
MAINTAINING ENZYME ACTIVITY
There are a few methods that can be implemented in order to dry the grain. Before choosing a method, it is important to keep in mind that sprouting grains activates the enzyme activity in the grain. Many prefer these enzymes to stay intact for the enzyme activity they bring to the bread fermentation process.
If keeping the enzyme activity intact is a priority, maintain a temperature below 113ºF throughout the dehydration process. Above this temperature, the enzymes begin to denature and eventually completely die off.
SPROUTED GRAIN DEHYDRATION METHODS
There are several means of dehydrating moist sprouted grains.
Method #1: Use an Electric Dehydrator
To dehydrate sprouted grains using an electric dehydrator, simply spread the grain in a thin, even layer over the dehydrator trays. Set the dehydrator to the desired temperature, keeping in mind the enzyme activity and 113ºF temperature cutoff. Dehydrate grains for 12-24 hours or until the grains test well for dryness.
Method #2: Air Dry
Another option is to dry grains using a non-electric dehydrator or a homemade setup.
The Hanging Food Pantrie Solar Food Dehdyrator is a convenient tool for air-drying grains.
Another option is to use a couple of sheet pans and a breathable covering such as cheesecloth to deter fruit flies or other insects.
Spread the moist, freshly-sprouted grain on the sheet pans in a thin, even layer. Place the pans in a dry, well-ventilated area. Dry for 18-48 hours, depending on the humidity and temperature of the environment.
Method #3: Dry in the Oven
The lowest temperature on most ovens is above the 113ºF threshold, so enzyme activity will be lost; however, the grains can still be dried at low oven temperature, usually 150-200ºF. The grains will dry faster due to the warm, dry heat of the oven, so check them for dryness in 8-12 hours.
TESTING THE DRYNESS OF THE GRAINS
Why Test the Grain Dryness?
The most important aspect of dehydrating the grains, besides maintaining the appropriate temperature for enzyme activity, is to ensure that the grain is fully dry before putting through a grain grinder. Grain that contains too much moisture can mold easily or gum up a grain mill.
There are scientific methods for testing the dryness of the grain utilizing large equipment found in many scientific laboratories. For the home cook, however, there is a simple test that can be performed.
How to Test the Grain Dryness
To test for dryness simply weigh the grain before sprouting. Once fully dry, the sprouted grain should be approximately the same weight as the grain was before sprouting. The weight is a good indication that much of the moisture taken up during the sprouting process has been removed.