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Grain Preparation, How to Prepare Raw Grain

Raw grain is very easy to prepare. Raw grain is quick to make, great for busy people. Here are several methods to get you started with the basics. Recipes for various dishes are in the recipe section.

Please note that the each section gives you different method. I want to give you options. You only need to use one method for any batch of raw grain. Use whichever method you like.

The time necessary to soak the grain varies. Soaking takes no time at all with freshly rolled oats, and 10 - 20 minutes with coarsely ground rye. In hot weather it's faster, in cold weather, it's slawer.

Using Pre-Milled Grain

With this simple method you can get started right away. No equipment is needed. You can use pre-milled grains such as steel-cut oats, rolled rye. and cracked wheat. Just buy some pre-milled raw grain from the store. Put some in a dish, add water, and let it sit until it gets soft.

Pre-milled grain dries out during storage, so they ma require a little more water, and a little more soaking time. This is especially true of steel-cut oats, which become dry and hard.

Grind the Grain Coarsely in a Flour Mill

This is the most popular method in Europe. Many people there have a grain mill in their kitchen. You need a mill that adjusts from fine to coarse milling. Set the grain mill on the coarse setting. Grind the raw grain into a bowl, add water, let it soak until soft.

Some food processors and juicers have flour milling attachments, so you may not need to buy a mill.

Some blenders are powerful enough to grind grain. If you're using a blender, you'll need to experiment to find out how long it takes to make coarse grain meal. If you accidentally grind it to flour, don't worry. You can still eat it that way as porridge.

Roll Your Own in a Roller Mill

This is my favorite method. Grain mills are available with two rollers that press the raw grains into flakes. The rolled grains soak very quickly, and have a nick texture. Just roll the grain, let it sit in a bowl with water until soft.

Soaking times are shorter for rolled grains, as the rolling process softens the grain so that it soaks up water faster.

Eating Unmilled Grain

Put some unmilled grain in a bowl. Add enough water to have a little water visible on top of the grain. Put a plate on top, and let it sit overnight. Oats are very soft, and take less time to soak.

Which Raw Grains to Use

The best grains for raw food dishes are oats, rye and wheat. Oats, rye and wheat are less expensive than kamut, spelt and triticale and just as nutritious. The type of starch in all of these grains becomes soft and pleasant to eat when soaked for a little while.

Barley has a strong sour and bitter flavor when raw. Buckwheat contains mucilage, a type of soluble fiber that creates an unpleasant slimy texture when soaked. Quinoa has a strange taste when raw.

Corn and rice never soften properly even when soaked a long time. I've tried using different varieties of rice, grinding, crushing, soaking, etc. They all stay hard unless they're cooked. That's because corn and rice contain a different type of starch than the type found in oats, rye and wheat.

People who are allergic to wheat may be able to eat oats, rye, kamut or spelt.

Most people with celiac disease can safely use oats. Some celiacs may react to oats, though. If you have celiac disease, consult your physician. I am not a doctor, and cannot give give medical advice. If you can eat oats, get a grain mill and use it only for oats, so that the mill is not contaminated by trace amounts of other grains. If you have celiac disease, don't eat pre-milled oats, as they may have been processed in a mill that also was used for other grains.

Which Grains Aren't Raw

Rolled oats are steamed before rolling.

Bulgur wheat has been cooked, dried, and ground. It often has had the bran removed.

Couscous is a kind of pasta made from cooked wheat.

Wild rice isn't raw, and isn't really rice, it's a relative of corn. It grows in lakes and is very moist when harvested. The damp grain is allowed to ferment slightly, then dried with high heat. The traditional wild rice grown by Native Americans is dried in big iron pans over a fire.
The cheaper cultivated wild rice is dried by heated air in big rotating drums.
In either case, it's cooked. Some people soak the whole wild rice grains, and think that it's sprouting. But they don't sprout, they split open when soaked. Try soaking, rinsing, etc for a few days, as you would for sprouting. The little germ that's revealed when the wild rice grain splits open never gets any larger. That's because it's dead. The wild rice grain slowly disintegrates, you can see little pieces of it in the rinse water.

Scientists are studying the wild rice genome. Native Americans are concerned about that this will lead to genetic engineering of wild rice.

Buying Raw Grain

Buy raw grain from the bulk section of the store. You'll save money, and there's less packaging to recycle. Organically grown is always good, of course. But don't stress if you can't find organic, or can't afford it. Even non-organically grown grains have a very low pesticide residue.

You can easily re-use a plastic bag that you've bought grains in. Just rinse it out, and shake off the water. Hang the bag up to dry, or drape it over something in your kitchen. When the outside is dry, turn the bag inside-out to let the inside dry.

Re-use, reduce, recycle.

See also © Jordan Rothstein <jordan at>