Today Laura at heavenlyhomemakers.com posted about the controversy of soaking grains. Below is my response to her post. I thought I would post it here too. Afterall I originally started this blog to document my baking experiences, you would think that I should occasionally write about it!
I have been grinding grain and baking with it (mostly bread) for only about a year. I only recently heard of soaking grains and have not had the time to seriously research it - so thank you for doing this!
Here are my thoughts after reading the article ...
I actually use grain and recipes from the BreadBeckers Co-op. Sue Becker also has a CD that they will send you for free. Here is the webpage address for info on how to get it. http://www.breadbeckers.com/freestuff.htm
This CD has an incredible amount of information. I have a friend that was debating the whole thing. She listened to this CD and bought her grain mill the very next day! It is that powerful and you should get it!
I have not read anything by the others you mentioned, so I suppose my opinions are somewhat one-sided. However, I have read alot of the info on the Bread Beckers website. An interesting fact is that Sue Becker has a degree in food science and jokes on her CD that she reads microbiology text books for fun! Those facts alone make me comfortable in her research and her knowledge in the information she provides about nutrition.
Several things jumped out at me when I read Sue Becker's article you linked to. Her words are in quotations.
1. "Only about 10% of the phytic acid is broken down in an overnight soak and that is not enough to make a significant difference."
Only 10%! That certainly does not convince me it is a worthwhile process. My question is how much percentage of other nutrients is lost during this time. I personally freeze any unused ground flour to stop the loss of nutrients. I can't recall the percentages of lost nutrients as the hours go by - it is on her CD though. If I remember correctly, most of the nutritional value is lost within 48 hours. I wonder then just how much is lost overnight?
2. "I have never read anything to document the statement about our ancestors and “virtually all pre-industrialized people” soaking their grains."
I grew up on the Canadian prairies and it seems that in many ways we are decades behind. One of the things that is still quite common in this area is preparing, storing and preserving food in much the same way as the pioneers did. My generation is losing this knowledge as our parents and grandparents are leaving us.
However, I am currently visiting at my mom's house and asked her if she has ever heard of soaking grains or flour overnight. She looked at me as if I was speaking a different language. She has never heard of anything like this. I never remember eating bought bread at my Grandma's, she always made her own bread. Of course she did not grind her own wheat - they used to have flour mills to do that. And like many did, when the flour mills started to close she started to buy her flour at the store. You really have to listen to Sue Becker's CD to hear just how terrible store bought flour is. I have not bought flour since I heard it.
Anyway, that is not the point. The point is that my Grandmother made bread the same way bread was made for many, many generations. She never soaked flour - and so neither will I!!!
The only advantage I have over my Grandma is that I have the knowledge and ability to grind my own flour and therefore make bread that she would be proud of.