The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

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davesmall's picture
davesmall

Is That Plastic Container Safe?

I like to keep refrigerated bread dough in the refrigerator so I can bake a loaf of bread, a pizza, pita bread, or fougasse on a whim without planning ahead. I keep the wet dough stored in a plastic men's shoebox because it is the perfect size and shape for efficient storage. However, I worried about the safety of the plastic. Could unhealthy chemicals leach out of the plastic and into the dough?


A little Google research on the web turned up this excellent article that I'd like to call to the attention of bakers in this forum.


http://health.yahoo.net/articles/womens-health/plastic-container-safe


The most important thing to know is that not all plastics are safe for food storage.


 


Know the code. Look on the bottom of your plastic to find the recycling symbol (a number between 1 and 7 enclosed in a triangle of arrows). The code indicates the type of plastic you are using and can give you important clues about safety. "We generally say 1, 2, 4 and 5 are considered to be the safest," says Sonya Lunder, senior analyst at the Environmental Working Group. Try to avoid using plastics with 3 or 6, as these leach chemicals that may be harmful. Number 7 is an "other" category that includes BPA-containing plastics called polycarbonates. These plastics, which you should avoid, will have the letters PC printed underneath the 7.


In case you are wondering, my shoeboxes are coded "2"


 


Dave Small


 


 

GSnyde's picture
GSnyde

Sourdough Typology - SJSD, SFSD or what?

As I begin the mental preparation for trying to bake David's San Joaquin Sourdough this coming weekend, I am distracted by a matter of semantics and typology. I am familiar with the origin of "San Joaquin Sourdough" (see David's 12/14/09 comment at http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/14140/san-joaquin-sourdough-another-variation-produces-best-flavor-yet).  I assume the name was coined as a reference to the Great Valley in which Fresno is located, where he lives.  I am in San Francisco, which has a sourdough of its own.  But I'll be be baking San Joaquin Sourdough in San Francisco, with a starter that evolved from David's starter from the San Joaquin.  It may be that my starter, born of generations of native San Franciscan yeasts, albeit descended from earlier generations of Fresnite yeasts, is now a San Francisco Sourdough Starter.


Perhaps my bread ought to be named for some geographic feature located between Fresno and San Francisco.  Maybe Mt. Diablo.   "Pane di Diavolo" sounds pretty sexy.  Or perhaps it should be named for the town of Fort Bragg, where that original glob of David's starter came into my possession.  In fact, my starter had bred for many generations in a jar that formerly held Pudding Creek Farms Ollalieberry Jam, made in Fort Bragg.


Before I make myself crazy trying to give a name to a bread that hasn't even been made yet, I should inquire whether there are typological principles that apply to the varieties of Sourdough Bread.  Is there a quasi-governmental body that enforces sanctioned naming conventions?  Does a new formula need to be a certain distance removed from a previously named formula before it gets its own name?  Or do we just get to make it up as we go along?  I kinda suspect it's that last one, but I don't want to get into any trouble.


Thanks for any help.


Glenn

breadbakingbassplayer's picture
breadbakingbass...

9/16/10 - 34 1/2 Hour Cold Bulk Retarded Dough Pain Au Levain

Hey All,


Me again.  This whole baking and blogging thing is a little nutty...  It's something one of those things that's fun, tedious and addictive...  Anyway, let's get on with this post...  How long can you cold bulk retard a dough and still have some good bread?  I've done 24 hours with good and bad results.  How about longer?  Why cold bulk retarding vs cold retarded proofing?  Well, from my experience, cold retarded proofing in a linen lined banneton seems to dry out the surface of the dough, so after baking, the crust becomes thick and tough...  This is my experience.  Also, I have a small under the counter refrigerator that has enough room to bulk retard maybe 4kg of dough in 2 X 4L plastic tubs.  So bulk retardation is my only option short of not sleeping if you've been following my baking schedule these days...


Here's my recipe:


Liquid Levain:


150g White Whole Wheat Flour


50g Rye Flour


50g Liquid Sourdough Storage Starter (100% hydration)


200g Water


450g Total Liquid Levain


 


Final Dough:


1000g AP


616g Water


30g Kosher Salt


450g Liquid Levain


2096g Approx Total Dough Yield


 


9/14/10


8:15pm - Mix liquid levain, cover and let rest on counter overnight.


9/15/10


8:00am - Mix final dough (in large mixing bowl put in water first, then levain, flour, salt).  Mix with rubber spatula until shaggy dough forms.  Cover and let rest 20 minutes.


8:25am - Knead for few minutes with wet hands until relatively smooth dough forms, transfer to lightly oiled container at least 4L, cover and let rest.


8:45am - Turn dough in container (stretch and fold), cover, place into refrigerator (40F), go to work.


9/16/10


6:30pm - Come home and take the dough out of the refrigerator and find that it was working on escaping the container



Divide into 2 equal pieces, shape into boules and place into linen lined bannetons and proof for 3 hours.



8:40pm - Arrange 2 baking stones on 2 levels, put steam pan in oven, preheat to 500F with convection.


9:45pm - Take bannetons out of plastic bag, lightly flour and give poke test...



10:00pm - Turn off convection. 




Turn boule out onto a lightly floured peel, slash as desired and place into oven directly onto stone.  When last loaf is in, pour 1 1/2 cups water into steam pan, close oven door.  Turn oven down to 450F and bake for 50 minutes, rotating between stones half way.  Then turn off oven and leave loaves in for another 10 minutes.



Loaves are done when the internal temp reaches 205F or higher (210F preferred), and they weigh at least 15% lighter than their prebaked weight.  Mine were 1050g before baking, and around 870g after, which is about a 17% weight loss...



Cool completely before cutting and eating...  Crumbshots tomorrow morning...  I wonder it this is a less stressfull baking schedule...  You tell me...


Tim

mimifix's picture
mimifix

What if the label says organic but...

What if the label says organic but the bakery you know and trust couldn’t source
any organic flour that week? Do you have an expectation of being informed before
you purchase a loaf? If you knew, would you wait a few days until they could buy
organic flour? Since the flour that week costs the bakery less, would you expect
to pay less?

As a customer I expect any bread I purchase will have a correct label on the
wrapper. If that wrapper says organic flour then I expect an organic product.
Especially if I’m seeking that specific product and paying an extra few dollars.

As a former bakery business owner, however, I understand the disruption in
business if signs must be posted and customers are upset. And what do we use
instead of all those pre-printed bags claiming organic ingredients?

I ask this question because my students have worked in established organic
bakeries and have seen this happen. We talk about ethics and mission statements,
since these students are looking for guidance in starting their own businesses.
I have offered suggestions based on the size of the business: small bakeries
post signs while larger wholesale bakeries add a disclaimer to their bags with a
phone number or email address for further info.

I’m curious about your opinion to this very touchy question.

Many thanks,
Mimi

Mebake's picture
Mebake

Hamelman's Olive Levain **w/crumb**

This is a late bake of Hamelman's "BREAD" under levain breads. It is 90% White flour vs. 10% Wholwheat with 230g of Pitted olives.







The loaves were fermented for 2.5 hours bulk, and immedietly retarded for 8 hours overnight at 50F (10c). I suspect the crumb will be tighter than i wish, because i believe the loaves needed an additional 1 hour fermentation prior to retarding.


Any ways, today i'll cut into them and find out!


khalid

breadbakingbassplayer's picture
breadbakingbass...

9/13/10 - Pain au Levain in a Pan

Hi All,


So I was up really late waiting for some Pain au Levain to rise...  Maybe a little too late, which is why I don't feel so hot right now and should be getting to bed early...  Way, way before 2:00am like this morning...  Anyway, just wanted to share with you some Pain au Levain in a pan that I baked very late last night...  They turned out really well, but I should have used smaller loaf pans...  Enjoy!  Recipe and method will follow the pics and the obligatory crumbshot...  Also, this recipe was inspired by one of the Pain au Levain recipes in Le Pain, l'envers du decor by Frédéric Lalos.


Tim




Ingredients:


Final Dough:


1110g AP (KA)


555g Stiff Levain (63% hydration)


700g Water


38g Kosher salt


2400g Total Dough Yield (approx)


 


Stiff Levain


304g AP


192g Water


60g Sourdough Starter (I used a stiff one)


556g Total Stiff Levain Yield


 


Method to the Madness


9/12/10


3:50pm - Mix stiff levain, place in covered container, let rest on counter.


430pm - Place stiff levain in refrigerator.


9:13/10


6:50pm - Mix final dough in large bowl using a large rubber spatula, plastic scraper, wet hands.  Knead for 5-10 minutes.  Cover bowl, or place in plastic bag and let rest.


7:30pm - Knead dough for 2-3 minutes in bowl with wet hands.  Do not add any extra flour.  Cover and let rest.


7:45pm - Turn dough, cover and let rest.


8:45pm - Line loaf pans with parchment paper, or grease them if you like.  Divide into 3x800g pieces, and shape into loaves, place into pans, place pans into plastic bag, proof for 4 hours.


9/14/10


12:00am - Place baking stone and steam pan in oven, preheat to 500F with convection.


1:00am - Turn convection off.  Lightly dust loaves and slash as desired, place into oven on stone.  When all pans are in oven, pour 1 cup of water into the steam pan, close door.  Turn oven down to 450F and bake for 45 minutes.  Halfway through bake, remove loaves from pans and return to oven and place directly onto stone.  Turn oven down to 425F for remainder of bake.  At end of baking, check internal temp and weight loss.  Should reach 210F and lose approx 15% weight.  Turn oven off and put loaves back in for another 10 minutes.  Cool completely before cutting and eating...  Also, get some sleep...

Graid's picture
Graid

Cannot make tasty onion bread- what's the secret?

I have general problems (which I shall probably elaborate on at some point) making bread that has much in the way of the taste, however, one particular sort of bread that has infuritatingly eluded me more than others, even, has been onion bread.


Onion bread or onion bagels I buy from the store have a rather lovely, rich flavour, with deep brown flecks of onion type substance through them.


I have tried several times to make onion bread, and never yet succeeded in making it taste anything like the tasty variety from stores.


I have tried simply filling the dough with uncooked onions- this results in a loaf that tastes of baked onions in a watery, extremely weak sort of way.


I have also tried using onion granules- that resulted in a bizarre tasting, over dense loaf nothing like what I was aiming for.It was also only really weakly onion flavoured.


I have tried using dehyrdated onions rehydrated, but this was only slightly different in results to using raw onion.


The closest I have managed to come to the onion bread flavour I crave was using an onion soup mix I bought in France. However, this still had a distinctly soup like flavour rather than a straight onion bread flavour. And more to the point, onion soup mix is not available in the UK (though I may be able to order it online).


Does anybody have any recommendations on how to make onion bread that actually tastes strongly onion-y and rich. Could anyone possibly recommend a soup mix that is available in the UK for making onion bread?

ehanner's picture
ehanner

The taste of Tahini

A few Months ago, SteveB posted his work using Tahini in a bread to improve the flavor of sesame. His post on Breadcetra can be found here. As usual Steve does a great job detailing the procedure and makes a wonderful bread.


Steves formula calls for about 6% by bakers percent Tahini. My loaf was 400 grams of a combination of 5% WW and 10% Rye and 85% AP, to which I added 10% (40g) tahini paste. I used 2% milk for the liquid, warmed to arrive at a dough temperature of 76F. The IDY was added with the flours (1/2 tsp) and the 8 grams of sea salt was held until the dough had absorbed the liquid for 30 minutes. Mixing and folding was done by hand.


This dough was mixed to 70% hydration but with the whole grain flours it felt like a 65% mix. I was shooting for a soft crumb sandwich bread with a hint of sesame. I decided to leave the seeds off this first time so I could tell if the amount of tahini had any appreciable effect on its own. The oil in the tahini paste plus the use of milk made for a very nice soft crumb with just a hint of sesame aroma. Next time, I'll use seeds on the crust and get the full effect. I think I'll switch to using water instead of milk also as the crumb is softened by the oil in the paste.


Eric



sortachef's picture
sortachef

Doris Light Zucchini Bread

Here's one of those quick bread recipes that pops out of my folder when I see burstingly fresh zucchini at the produce stand. It's adapted from a recipe that's been passed around in my family as 'Doris Fenton's Zucchini Bread' for donkey's years and so, when I lightened up the oil and tweaked the quantities to suit, it only seemed fair to carry on the name.


Doris Light Zucchini Bread in the pan


Makes 2 loaves 


3 large eggs


2 cups sugar


½ cup canola oil


½ cup apple juice


1½ teaspoons vanilla


 


2 ¾ cups all-purpose flour (see note)


1½ teaspoons cinnamon


2 ¼ teaspoons baking soda


1½ teaspoons salt


¼ teaspoons baking powder


 


3 cups grated fresh zucchini, loosely packed, about 1 pound (see note)


 


Note: If the zucchini is not fresh - either days old in the fridge or store bought - decrease the flour to 2 ½  cups.  Zucchini fresh off the vine has more moisture. To grate zucchini cut in thirds and put through the cheese grater of your food processor. 


 



  1. Set rack in center of oven and preheat oven to 375º.

  2. Using a flat beater, beat eggs until frothy.  Beat in the sugar. Add oil, apple juice and vanilla and beat until thick and lemon colored.

  3. Mix together the flour, cinnamon, baking soda, salt and baking powder in a bowl.  Add along with the zucchini to the egg and oil mixture and beat until blended.

  4. Pour evenly into 2 buttered and lightly floured glass loaf pans.

  5. Bake for 10 minutes at 375º. Lower heat to 350º degrees and bake for 1 hour longer.  The loaves should have a dark skin with splits along the top, and a toothpick inserted into one of the splits should be nearly clean, with no batter buildup.

  6. Cool in pans on rack for 15 minutes.  Gently remove from pans, using a sharp knife if necessary, and then cool for an hour or more before serving.


Freezing note: Make this zucchini bread now, when the zucchini is at its most flavorful, and freeze some for later. Wrap half loaves tightly in plastic, label and freeze in loaf bag. It's great months later when thawed for a feast!


For original blog, please go to www.wsoodfiredkitchen.com or search for 'Sortachef'


Copyright 2010 by Don Hogeland


Doris Light Zucchini Bread slices

BellesAZ's picture
BellesAZ

Wheaty Indiscretions: What Happens to Wheat, from Seed to Storage

REPRINTED WITH PERMISSION


An interesting article I ran across and I thought it would be worthwhile to post - if nothing else for consideration of the process of milling in the modern era.


Wheaty Indiscretions: What Happens to Wheat, from Seed to Storage

Health Topics - Modern Foods
Written by Jen Allbritton, CN   
Monday, 30 June 2003 16:40

Wheat--America's grain of choice. Its hardy, glutenous consistency makes it practical for a variety of foodstuffs--cakes, breads, pastas, cookies, bagels, pretzels and cereals that have been puffed, shredded and shaped. This ancient grain can actually be very nutritious when it is grown and prepared in the appropriate manner. Unfortunately, the indiscretions inflicted by our modern farming techniques and milling practices have dramatically reduced the quality of the commercial wheat berry and the flour it makes. You might think, "Wheat is wheat--what can they do that makes commercial varieties so bad?" Listen up, because you are in for a surprise!

It was the cultivation of grains--members of the grass family--that made civilization possible.1 Since wheat is one of the oldest known grains, its cultivation is as old as civilization itself. Some accounts suggest that mankind has used this wholesome food since 10,000 to 15,000 years BC.2 Upon opening Egyptian tombs archeologists discovered large earthenware jars full of wheat to "sustain" the Pharaohs in the afterlife. Hippocrates, the father of medicine, was said to recommend stone-ground flour for its beneficial effects on the digestive tract. Once humans figured out how to grind wheat, they discovered that when water is added it can be naturally fermented and turned into beer and expandable dough.2

Botonists have identified almost 30,000 varieties of wheat, which are assigned to one of several classifications according to their planting schedule and nutrient composition3--hard red winter, hard red spring, soft red winter, durum, hard white and soft white. Spring wheat is planted in the spring, and winter wheat is planted in the fall and shoots up the next spring to mature that summer. Soft, hard, and durum (even harder) wheats are classified according to the strength of their kernel. This strength is a function of the protein-to-starch ratio in the endosperm (the starchy middle layer of the seed). Hard wheats contain less starch, leaving a stronger protein matrix.3

With the advent of modern farming, the number of varieties of wheat in common use has been drastically reduced. Today, just a few varieties account for 90 percent of the wheat grown in the world.1

When grown in well-nourished, fertile soil, whole wheat is rich in vitamin E and B complex, many minerals, including calcium and iron, as well as omega-3 fatty acids. Proper growing and milling methods are necessary to preserve these nutrients and prevent rancidity. Unfortunately, due to the indiscretions inflicted by contemporary farming and processing on modern wheat, many people have become intolerant or even allergic to this nourishing grain. These indiscretions include depletion of the soil through the use of chemical fertilizers, pesticides and other chemicals, high-heat milling, refining and improper preparation, such as extrusion.1

Rather than focus on soil fertility and careful selection of seed to produce varieties tailored to a particular micro-climate, modern farming practices use high-tech methods to deal with pests and disease, leading to overdependence on chemicals and other substances.

IT STARTS WITH THE SEED

Even before they are planted in the ground, wheat seeds receive an application of fungicides and insecticides. Fungicides are used to control diseases of seeds and seedlings; insecticides are used to control insect pests, killing them as they feed on the seed or emerging seedling.7 Seed companies often use mixtures of different seed-treatment fungicides or insecticides to control a broader spectrum of seed pests.8

PESTICIDES AND FERTILIZERS

Some of the main chemicals (insecticides, herbicides and fungicides) used on commercial wheat crops are disulfoton (Di-syston), methyl parathion, chlorpyrifos, dimethoate, diamba and glyphosate.9

Although all these chemicals are approved for use and considered safe, consumers are wise to reduce their exposure as much as possible. Besides contributing to the overall toxic load in our bodies, these chemicals increase our susceptibility to neurotoxic diseases as well as to conditions like cancer.10

Many of these pesticides function as xenoestrogens, foreign estrogen that can reap havoc with our hormone balance and may be a contributing factor to a number of health conditions. For example, researchers speculate these estrogen-mimicking chemicals are one of the contributing factors to boys and girls entering puberty at earlier and earlier ages. They have also been linked to abnormalities and hormone-related cancers including fibrocystic breast disease, breast cancer and endometriosis.13

HORMONES ON WHEAT?

Sounds strange, but farmers apply hormone-like substances or "plant growth regulators" that affect wheat characteristics, such as time of germination and strength of stalk.11 These hormones are either "natural," that is, extracted from other plants, or synthetic. Cycocel is a synthetic hormone that is commonly applied to wheat.

Moreover, research is being conducted on how to manipulate the naturally occurring hormones in wheat and other grains to achieve "desirable" changes, such as regulated germination and an increased ability to survive in cold weather.12

No studies exist that isolate the health risks of eating hormone-manipulated wheat or varieties that have been exposed to hormone application. However, there is substantial evidence about the dangers of increasing our intake of hormone-like substances.

CHEMICALS USED IN STORAGE

Chemical offenses don't stop after the growing process. The long storage of grains makes them vulnerable to a number of critters. Before commercial grain is even stored, the collection bins are sprayed with insecticide, inside and out. More chemicals are added while the bin is filled. These so-called "protectants" are then added to the upper surface of the grain as well as four inches deep into the grain to protect against damage from moths and other insects entering from the top of the bin. The list of various chemicals used includes chlorpyrifos-methyl, diatomaceous earth*, bacillus thuringiensis, cy-fluthrin, malathion and pyrethrins.14

Then there is the threshold test. If there is one live insect per quart of sample, fumigation is initiated. The goal of fumigation is to "maintain a toxic concentration of gas long enough to kill the target pest population." The toxic chemicals penetrate the entire storage facility as well as the grains being treated. Two of the fumigants used include methyl bromide and phosphine-producing materials, such as magnesium phosphide or aluminum phosphide.14

GRAIN DRYING

Heat damage is a serious problem that results from the artificial drying of damp grain at high temperatures. Overheating causes denaturing of the protein26 and can also partially cook the protein, ruining the flour's baking properties and nutritional value. According to Ed Lysenko, who tests grain by baking it into bread for the Canadian Grain Commission's grain research laboratory, wheat can be dried without damage by using re-circulating batch dryers, which keep the wheat moving during drying. He suggests an optimal drying temperature of 60 degrees Celsius (140 degrees Fahrenheit).27 Unfortunately, grain processors do not always take these precautions.

MODERN PROCESSING

The damage inflicted on wheat does not end with cultivation and storage, but continues into milling and processing. A grain kernel is comprised of three layers: the bran, the germ and the endosperm. The bran is the outside layer where most of the fiber exists. The germ is the inside layer where many nutrients and essential fatty acids are found. The endosperm is the starchy middle layer. The high nutrient density associated with grains exists only when these three are intact. The term whole grain refers to the grain before it has been milled into flour. It was not until the late nineteenth century that white bread, biscuits, and cakes made from white flour and sugars became mainstays in the diets of industrialized nations, and these products were only made possible with the invention of high-speed milling machines.28 Dr. Price observed the unmistakable consequences of these dietary changes during his travels and documented their corresponding health effects. These changes not only resulted in tooth decay, but problems with fertility, mental health and disease progression.30

Flour was originally produced by grinding grains between large stones. The final product, 100 percent stone-ground whole-wheat flour, contained everything that was in the grain, including the germ, fiber, starch and a wide variety of vitamins and minerals. Without refrigeration or chemical preservatives, fresh stone-ground flour spoils quickly. After wheat has been ground, natural wheat-germ oil becomes rancid at about the same rate that milk becomes sour, so refrigeration of whole grain breads and flours is necessary. Technology's answer to these issues has been to apply faster, hotter and more aggressive processing.28

Since grinding stones are not fast enough for mass-production, the industry uses high-speed, steel roller mills that eject the germ and the bran. Much of this "waste product"--the most nutritious part of the grain--is sold as "byproducts" for animals. The resulting white flour contains only a fraction of the nutrients of the original grain. Even whole wheat flour is compromised during the modern milling process. High-speed mills reach 400 degrees Fahrenheit, and this heat destroys vital nutrients and creates rancidity in the bran and the germ. Vitamin E in the germ is destroyed--a real tragedy because whole wheat used to be our most readily available source of vitamin E.

Literally dozens of dough conditioners and preservatives go into modern bread, as well as toxic ingredients like partially hydrogenated vegetable oils and soy flour. Soy flour--loaded with antinutrients--is added to virtually all brand-name breads today to improve rise and prevent sticking. The extrusion process, used to make cold breakfast cereals and puffed grains, adds insult to injury with high temperatures and high pressures that create additional toxic components and further destroy nutrients--even the synthetic vitamins that are added to replace the ones destroyed by refinement and milling.

People have become accustomed to the mass-produced, gooey, devitalized, and nutritionally deficient breads and baked goods and have little recollection of how real bread should taste. Chemical preservatives allow bread to be shipped long distances and to remain on the shelf for many days without spoiling and without refrigeration.

HEALTHY WHOLE WHEAT PRODUCTS

Ideally, one should buy whole wheat berries and grind them fresh to make homemade breads and other baked goods. Buy whole wheat berries that are grown organically or biodynamically--biodynamic farming involves higher standards than organic.34 Since these forms of farming do not allow synthetic, carcinogenic chemicals and fertilizers, purchasing organic or biodynamic wheat assures that you are getting the cleanest, most nutritious food possible. It also automatically eliminates the possibility of irradiation31 and genetically engineered seed. The second best option is to buy organic 100 percent stone-ground whole-wheat flour at a natural food store. Slow-speed, steel hammer-mills are often used instead of stones, and flours made in this way can list "stone-ground" on the label. This method is equivalent to the stone-ground process and produces a product that is equally nutritious. Any process that renders the entire grain into usable flour without exposing it to high heat is acceptable.

If you do not make your own bread, there are ready made alternatives available. Look for organic sourdough or sprouted breads freshly baked or in the freezer compartment of your market or health food store. If bread is made entirely with l00 percent stone-ground whole grains, it will state so on the label. When bread is stone ground and then baked, the internal temperature does not usually exceed 170 degrees, so most of the nutrients are preserved.28 As they contain no preservatives, both whole wheat flour and its products should be kept in the refrigerator or freezer. Stone-ground flour will keep for several months frozen.28

Sprouting, soaking and genuine sourdough leavening "pre-digests" grains, allowing the nutrients to be more easily assimilated and metabolized. This is an age-old approach practiced in most traditional cultures. Sprouting begins germination, which increases the enzymatic activity in foods and inactivates substances called enzyme inhibitors.1 These enzyme inhibitors prevent the activation of the enzymes present in the food and, therefore, may hinder optimal digestion and absorption. Soaking neutralizes phytic acid, a component of plant fiber found in the bran and hulls of grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds that reduces mineral absorption.32 All of these benefits may explain why sprouted foods are less likely to produce allergic reactions in those who are sensitive.1

Sprouting also causes a beneficial modification of various nutritional elements. According to research undertaken at the University of Minnesota, sprouting increases the total nutrient density of a food. For example, sprouted whole wheat was found to have 28 percent more thiamine (B1), 315 percent more riboflavin (B2), 66 percent more niacin (B3), 65 percent more pantothenic acid (B5), 111 percent more biotin, 278 percent more folic acid, and 300 percent more vitamin C than non-sprouted whole wheat. This phenomenon is not restricted to wheat. All grains undergo this type of quantitative and qualitative transformation. These studies also confirmed a significant increase in enzymes, which means the nutrients are easier to digest and absorb.33

You have several options for preparing your wheat. You can use a sour leavening method by mixing whey, buttermilk or yogurt with freshly ground wheat or quality pre-ground wheat from the store. Or, soak your berries whole for 8 to 22 hours, then drain and rinse. There are some recipes that use the whole berries while they are wet, such as cracker dough ground right in the food processor. Another option is to dry sprouted wheat berries in a low-temperature oven or dehydrator, and then grind them in your grain mill and then use the flour in a variety or recipes.

Although our modern wheat suffers from a great number of indiscretions, there are steps we can take to find the quality choices that will nourish us today and for the long haul. Go out and make a difference for you and yours and turn your wheaty indiscretions into wheaty indulgences.

SIDEBAR ARTICLES

SPELT AND KAMUT®

Spelt is a distant cousin to modern wheat and one of the oldest cultivated grains. Current research indicates few differences between hard red wheat and Canadian spelt. Researchers have also found evidence supporting the claim that spelt may be easier for humans to digest than wheat.4 Modern wheat has been altered over the years through breeding to simplify its growth and harvesting, increase its yield and raise its gluten content for the production of commercial baked goods--all of which has rendered modern wheat more difficult to digest. Spelt, on the other hand, has not been as popular in our food supply and has therefore retained many of its original traits.5

Kamut® is also an ancient relative of modern wheat, durum wheat to be exact. Actually, "kamut" is an ancient word for wheat. Similar to spelt, this grain has been untouched by modern plant-breeding techniques that have been imposed on wheat.6

IRRADIATION

Wheat and wheat flour were some of the first foods the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved for irradiation.15 A 1963 ruling applied to imported grains. In 1968, the FDA approved irradiation for US wheat berries and flour to control insects.16 Irradiation is the practice of using either high-speed electron beams or high-energy radiation to break chemical bonds and ionize molecules that lie in their path.17 According to proponents of this technology, irradiation can provide more food security for the world by eradicating storage pests in grain, killing fruit flies in fruit, preventing mold growth, delaying ripening, preventing the sprouting of potatoes, onions and garlic, and extending the shelf life of meat, fish and shellfish – all without health consequences. However, research tells us something quite different.

One particularly interesting study on the dangers of irradiation was published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition18 in 1975. Ten children were divided into two groups of five. Before the trial started, blood samples were taken and examined for each child. The diets given to each group were identical except the wheat for the experimental group had been irradiated two or three days earlier with a dose recommended for grain disinfestation. After four weeks, the examination of blood samples showed abnormal cell formation in four of the five children given irradiated wheat. No signs of abnormal cell development appeared in the control group.


One particularly disturbing cell type found in the experimental group was polyploid lymph. Lymph is a vital component of the immune system, and these abnormal varieties occur routinely in patients undergoing radiation treatment. In fact, the level of these abnormal lymph cells is often used as a measure of radiation exposure for people accidentally exposed to radiation.19 After six weeks, blood samples were taken again and a sharp increase of polyploid lymph cells was seen when compared to the level at four weeks. Because of concern for the children's health, the study was terminated.


It was argued that the main culprit in the increase of cell abnormalities was the fact the wheat was "freshly irradiated." Therefore, a subsequent study looked at the effects of feeding wheat that had been irradiated and then stored for 12 weeks. The polyploid cells took a little longer to show up--six weeks instead of four. After the irradiated wheat had been withdrawn, it took 24 weeks before the blood of the test children reverted to normal.


To verify their results, the researchers continued with experimental animals and found the same results in both monkeys and rats--a progressive increase of polyploid lymph cells and a gradual disappearance of these cells after withdrawal of the irradiated wheat.20 ,21 ,22 ,23 Thus, the dangers of irradiated foods are evident, whether the food has been freshly irradiated or stored for a period of time. Other long-term health implications from eating irradiated foods include lowered immune resistance, decreased fertility, damage to kidneys, depressed growth rates, as well as a reduction in vitamins A, B complex, C, E and K.24

NUTRIENT LOSS FROM REFINING OF WHEAT29

Thiamine (B1) 77%
Riboflavin (B2) 80%
Niacin 81%
Pyridoxine (B6) 72%
Pantothenic acid 50%
Vitamin E 86%
Calcium 60%
Phosphorous 71%
Magnesium 84%
Potassium 77%
Sodium 78%
Chromium 40%
Manganese 86%
Iron 76%
Cobalt 89%
Zinc 78%
Copper 68%
Selenium 16%
Molybdenum 48%

GENETICALLY ENGINEERED WHEAT

Genetic Engineering (GE) is the process of altering or disrupting the genetic blueprints of living organisms--plants, trees, fish, animals and microorganisms. Genes are spliced to incorporate a new characteristic or function into an organism. For example, scientists can mix a gene from a cold-water fish into a strawberry plant's DNA so it can withstand colder temperatures. So far, the most widely used GE foods are soy, cotton and corn. Monsanto hopes to commercialize Roundup Ready Wheat sometime between 2003 and 2005. This crop will join the company of a number of crops engineered to resist the Roundup herbicide.


Proponents of GE claim that this "technology" will make agriculture sustainable, eliminate world hunger, cure disease and improve public health--but have they factored in the enormous risks? When surveyed, most consumers do not want to eat genetically modified foods, and even commercial farmers are wary. Wheat farmers are scared of the Starlink corn fiasco. Iowa farmers planted one percent of their 2000 corn crop as Starlink, a genetically engineered corn approved only for animal consumption. By harvest time, almost 50 percent of the Iowa crop tested positive for Starlink. Product recalls, consumer outcry and export difficulties have ensued. This mistake resulted in the recall of hundreds of millions of dollars of food products and seeds. In regards to exporting, our overseas consumers say they will not accept any wheat that has been genetically engineered. For this reason, Monsanto has put the development of GE wheat on temporary hold.25

USING WHEAT IN BAKING

When deciding which wheat berries to use for baking, the main categories to consider are hard and soft. Hard wheat is higher in protein, particularly gluten, making it more elastic and the best choice for making breads. Gluten traps carbon dioxide during the leavening process, allowing the dough to rise. Durum wheats, used mostly for pasta, are even harder. Soft wheats are lower in protein and are more appropriate for cookies, crackers, soda breads and other baked goods.

WAPF received the following letter from Lorraine Iverson of the EPA on August 10, 2004:

I have thoroughly enjoyed your website over the past few years and have found it to be an authority on nutrition in America. Please keep up the good work.

I am a chemist with the EPA, and I spend my days analyzing soil, water and fish samples for pesticides such as Chlordane, DDT, Chlorpyrifos to name a few. I was reading the article "Wheaty Indiscretions" with great interest today, when I noticed that diatomaceous earth was listed as a chemical used in storage in the paragraph titled Chemicals Used in Storage. This material is not toxic, nor is it a manmade chemical. It is the residue left over from plankton, and it kills bugs by mechanical means, not chemical. To list this material alongside chlorpyrifos and malathion gives the wrong impression.

My $0.02
Lorraine Iverson

References

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  19. Bender, M.A. 1971. Use of chromosome analysis in the diagnosis of radiation injury. IAEA Technical Report Series No. 123, p. 277.
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  34. See http://www.biodynamics.com for more information on this approach.
This article appeared in Wise Traditions in Food, Farming and the Healing Arts, the quarterly magazine of the Weston A. Price Foundation, Spring 2003.

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