From sprouted breads to sprouted pretzels and pasta, people are becoming increasingly aware of not only the benefits of sprouting but also the marvelous flavor it imparts.
Since it's becoming more common, we want to give you some info about sprouted grains (in particular sprouted wheat) and what to be aware of as a consumer.
There is no regulation on the labeling of the word ‘Sprouted’.
This means that anybody can produce a product (bread, pasta, cereal, etc.) with traditional grains or flours and slap the word 'Sprouted' across the packaging. Doesn't matter if it's sprouted or not.
That's right...it doesn't matter if it's sprouted or not. (Silence descends, mouths agape.)
Now, before you spin off and imagine the worst, that scenario is the extreme end of the sprouted spectrum.
It's rare but it does occasionally happen. It’s something you need to know but don't have to be particularly concerned about. We discover those guys pretty quickly and drop the hammer on them.
Where it gets loosey-goosey and what we want to bring to your attention is the percentage of sprouted grain or flour in the product you're purchasing.
Percentages, the down and dirty.
Alright, so because there is no regulation, a company can make a bread using a combination of grains and/or flours (some sprouted, some not) and label it 'Sprouted'.
These mixed grain and flour breads are extremely common. In fact, the bulk of commercially sprouted breads are made this way.
A company could use 25% sprouted wheat flour and 75% non-sprouted wheat flour and call their bread a 'Sprouted' wheat bread.
Or they could use 100% non-sprouted wheat flour, toss in some sprouted wheat berries (wheat that hasn’t been ground into flour) and label the bread as 'Sprouted'.
Now, there is nothing wrong with making breads like that. We call them hybrids. (Actually, we call them hybreads...because, you know...you can't just let an opportunity like that pass you by.)
But let’s be perfectly honest. If the label on a loaf of bread says sprouted wheat bread, sprouted grain bread or even just sprouted, odds are you’re going to assume the whole thing is sprouted.
Unless you're a baker or the odd man out, it would never even occur to you that the sprouted bread you're buying is 25/75, 50/50 or 10/90.
It's bread, man, not engine oil. Right?
Sorry Gang, it doesn't work that way.
So how do you know?
1. You gotta read the ingredients.
Specifically, the ingredients before water is listed. Those are the ingredients which make up the bulk of your bread. Let's take a look at a few examples:
Trader Joe's - Sprouted Multi-Grain
Organic high protein sprouted wheat berries, organic grain mixture (consisting of millet, rye flakes, corn meal, rolled oats, cracked wheat, flax seeds, sunflower seeds), filtered water, wheat gluten, pure honey, unsulphured molasses, sea salt, fresh yeast, soy lecithin, cultured wheat.
With TJ's you'll see that the bulk of the bread is made with sprouted wheat berries and a non-sprouted grain mixture of millet, rye flakes, corn meal, rolled oats, cracked wheat, flax seeds and sunflower seeds.
Cracked wheat and rye flake are wheat and rye milled in a manner that doesn’t produce a powder. If it isn’t in a powder form, then you don’t call it flour. It's still wheat and rye.
Dave's Killer Bread - Sprouted Whole Grains
Organic wheat (organic sprouted whole wheat flour, organic cracked wheat), water, organic dried cane syrup (sugar), sprouted flake mix (organic sprouted barley flakes, organic sprouted oat flakes, organic sprouted rye flakes), organic wheat gluten, organic expeller pressed canola oil, organic molasses, organic oat fiber, yeast, sea salt, organic cultured whole wheat, organic vinegar.
With Dave’s, you’ll see that the first two ingredients are sprouted wheat flour and cracked wheat.
So, this bread is not 100% sprouted wheat but rather a combination of sprouted and non-sprouted wheat. This is no knock to Dave's. It's a very good product. It's just not 100% sprouted wheat.
Alvarado Street - Sprouted Whole Wheat
Sprouted Organic Whole Wheat Berries, Filtered Water, Organic Dates, Wheat Gluten, Sea Salt, Organic Raisins, Fresh Yeast, Soy Based Lecithin, Cultured Wheat.
You'll see here that Alvarado Street makes their bread using sprouted wheat berries.
They actually sprout the berries and then grind them into a wet dough which forms the base of the bread.
This is 100% percent organic sprouted wheat bread which they have been doing since the late 70's. They don't get nearly the accolades they deserve.
We thank and tip our hats to you, Alvarado Street.
Pepperidge Farm - Harvest Blends Sprouted Grain
Sprouted Whole Wheat Flour, Whole Wheat Flour, Water, Wheat Gluten, Oats, Wheat, Brown Sugar (Sugar, Invert Sugar, Molasses), Soybean Oil, Contains 2 Percent or Less of: Molasses, Wheat Berries, Salt, Yeast, Calcium Propionate and Sorbic Acid to Retard Spoilage, DATEM, Monoglycerides, Soy Lecithin, Whey (Milk), Sesame Seeds.
Without getting into the ingredients used in this bread which are horrible for you (we'll address that subject at a later date) the first two ingredients found are sprouted wheat and whole wheat.
So, this bread is not 100% sprouted wheat but rather a combination of sprouted and non-sprouted wheat.
If you've been purchasing and eating this bread under the assumption that it's good for you, please stop. It's not organic and laden with processed ingredients and chemicals.
20 Shekels - The Chocolate Blackberry
Organic Sprouted Wheat Flour, Water, Honey, Organic Dark Chocolate, Blackberries, Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Salt, Yeast.
100% organic sprouted wheat flour. Off the chart good.
2. Talk to the baker.
Ask every question under the sun.
Yep, get all up in their faces and bust their chops. A good baker will happily tell you the ingredients and percentages used in their breads.
We're rather passionate and proud of what we do. We love sharing it.
Go ahead, ask Marni sometime. Be prepared to kill 20 or 30 minutes. She'll go on forever about sprouted wheat and sprouted bread if you let her. If you time it properly, she'll even put you to work rolling out pretzels while the two of you discuss.
You've been warned.
3. Price is a very good indicator of percentage. Use it for comparison.
If you're a buyer of organic, then you know that organic is more expensive than non-organic foods.
You've probably noticed that organic prices have begun to close the gap over the last few years. There are actually quite a lot of organic products that you can now get at very good prices.
More and more production of organic foods will keep those prices coming down. It just takes time. Will it ever be as cheap as pesticide riddled, mass produced GMO products? Probably not.
But then again if your corn costs the same, pound for pound, as Sheetrock...well, chances are the nutritional value of the corn isn't that far off from the nutritional value of Sheetrock.
(There's a thought that's going to fester. One day we'll do a lab analysis of both and report our findings.)
The same is true of sprouted flour. High quality, organic wheat flour tends to run about $1.00 per lb. High quality, organic sprouted wheat flour runs about $4.50 per lb.
Breads that have higher percentages of sprouted wheat flour will cost more than ones which have lower percentages.
Commercial producers will always be cheaper than small artisan outfits such as ourselves. They buy in volumes that would blow your mind.
We buy 50 lb. sacks of flour on pallets. They buy silos.
There's no bagging of flour when you own a silo. It gets dumped into massive trucks that bring it to massive storage facilities of the bread manufacturer.
When you buy a silo...Holy Moly!...super big discounts. We considered it. Turned out our 9000 sq. ft. building didn't have enough room to hold it all. Also, we only leased 850 sq. ft.
So make sure you compare the small guys to the small guys and the big guys to the big guys.
4. Run it by us. If we don't already know the answer, we'll find out.
Seriously. If you want to know about a sprouted product and are unable to determine it's value, ask us. We don't care if it's some other baker or manufacturer's sprouted product.
Maybe you prefer the taste of Bobo's sprouted bread over ours. There's nothing wrong with that. Tastes vary. We're not so arrogant to think that everyone must or will like our bread.
There are billions of people to feed. We need more sprouted bakers not less. Plus we'd love to meet Bobo.
Alright, so there you have it. It was a lot, we know. But anything less would have been a disservice.
The above 'tips' should help you in determining the level of quality of the sprouted breads and products you are purchasing.
Now, the question simply becomes: Do you want regular, premium or high octane fuel for your body?
Incidentally, if you had any question about it, 20 Shekels = High Octane.