The Great Grain Debate

September 19, 2015

Soaking: Is it really worth it?


There aren't a lot of hard-and-fast rules for grain soaking. Some folks believe just water will suffice for soaking, while others encourage using an acidic solution (like by adding whey as suggested by Food52er bobbie joh). As for timing, that really depends, too: Some grains are tougher and require longer soaking times (like kamut and wheat berries) while others absorb water more quickly (like buckwheat and quinoa—though these are both technically seeds, not grains).

An important point to take into consideration is soaking's potential health benefits. Former Food52 Associate Editor Kristy Mucci maintains that soaking grains "breaks up the phytic acid on the outer layer of the grain. Less phytic acid means easier digestion and more nutrients absorbed.
" This will likely have more of an impact if you are eating them fresh or lightly cooked. However, if you’re thinking of making a loaf of bread with sprouted grains (grains that have soaked long enough to produce sprouts), the process of drying, grinding, and then baking means the nutritional benefits may be cooked off as well.
 So, where to stand on soaking?

More: Want to try sprouting grains (and beans and seeds) at home? Here's how.

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Worth it

  • Improved texture
  • Speedier cooking times
  • Health benefits

Not worth it

  • Planning ahead
  • Time commitment (Will an hour long soak work or should it sit overnight?)
  • Figuring out an appropriate soaking strategy (Plain water or an acidic solution?)

Verdict: Worth it for the health benefits if you don't mind the prep time.

Do you soak your grains? Which ones and how? Tell us in the comments below! 

Photos by Bobbi Lin 

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Daisy
  • Abhilasha Singh
    Abhilasha Singh
  • Renee
Gabi Benedit

Written by: Gabi Benedit

domestic dilettante.


Daisy September 29, 2015
I have soaked a number of different grains and beans. It is great to be able to use them without cooking and gaining the additional nutritional value. I especially like soaking wild rice. It takes longer, 3-4 days, but it makes incredible salads or stuffed veggies. It is nice to be able to mix things up a bit.
Abhilasha S. September 21, 2015
sprouts everyday
Renee September 19, 2015
Such a great article...Im a big soaker of my grains (when I have time of course), I love knowing that i am getting all the nutrients out of them and that the are easier for my body to digest.