The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Soaking whole wheat- Phytic Acid

inlovewbread's picture

Soaking whole wheat- Phytic Acid

I have been doing some reading on Phytic Acid and Phytates in whole wheat. You can read about it here and here

I don't know why I missed this in the past, but now I'm all freaked out and feel like I need to soak all my fresh ground whole wheat flour before using it! That means a lot of re-working of all my favorite recipes. 

I don't see a whole lot of information on it on TFL (although Peter Reinhart's methods include this step of soaking in Whole Grain Breads). I have read a few threads on this site and elsewhere relating this method with celiac disease/ rise of celiac disease in the years after commercial yeast became available- a lot of interesting information on that, but that's a separate subject.

So I guess my question is, does everyone else here know about this 'soaking-to-rid-whole-wheat-of-phytic-acid' technique? If so, why aren't more people soaking their flour first? Obviously you don't need to worry about soaking in sourdoughs (because of the lactic acid in the culture) but I don't see much talk about it for sandwich loaves or whole wheat loaves using commercial yeast. Any thoughts?




Yerffej's picture

I am fully aware of phytic acid and the issues that surround it.  This is a very big factor in my baking almost all sourdough breads.


Here is another link you may find to be informative:

inlovewbread's picture

Thanks for the link, that's a great resource, a lot of information in one spot. Especially all the articles on soy! I wish everybody would read that.

All the breads I make are leavened by sourdough, eliminating the soaking dilemma, except for sandwich bread. We just prefer a non-sourdough sandwich loaf. And I'll just have to figure out how to adjust my muffins, etc. to soak or sourdough. The benefits will justify the extra effort.

Sustainable Eats's picture
Sustainable Eats

I'm also fully aware of it but my family won't eat sourdough often.  I finally came to this: as our daily bread since it's 100% whole wheat but soaked and everyone loves it.

I also soak my pizza dough and pancakes: and crackers: or

overnight to reduce the phytic acid.  For any baked good like cookies, etc I just use flour that I've made from sprouting the grains, dedhydrating and then grinding.  I can't get any non-yeasted thing to turn out good enough to please my picky palate otherwise.

It takes some preplanning but still not as much as making and feeding a starter.

Edthebread's picture

By my reading of the document that was in the link in the first posting, the phytic acid in wheat or rye flour is gone within 2 hours of soaking.  As most bread takes this long to rise and proof, will it not be gone before the bread bakes?  Am I missing something?

Sustainable Eats's picture
Sustainable Eats

It may be somewhat reduced after 2 hours but it's not gone.  WAP recommends soaking for 8-12 hours or more.

Futterbudget's picture

I soak all our whole grain flours to get rid of phytic acid, using the Nourishing Traditions method for muffins and pancakes (soaking in kefir).  

Most of the time, I just make sourdough, since that's an easy and tasty solution, but I've played around with soaking flour for a yeast-leavened bread too.  The best results I've gotten have been with Scottish Sponge Bread, an overnight started dough from the Laurel's Kitchen Bread Book.  

Sustainable Eats, thanks for the link!  I'll try your recipe too!

eehmoore's picture

I have had good success adpating Reinhart's 100% whole wheat sandwich bread to a soaked version.  In the soaker I substitute (by weight) buttermilk and leave on the counter overnight.  In the biga I substitute yogurt whey for about 1/3 of the total water (by weight) and retard in the fridge.  Itry to soak both for 18-24 hours.  I do not soak the flour in the final dough, however the amount by weight is a fairly small percentage of the final dough and our family is not prone to gluten of digestive issues, so I don't worry much about it.

I am loving all the links previously posted.  Great info.

subfuscpersona's picture

...the conditions are properly followed. Two conditions must be met - the pH of the liquid and the temperature during the soak.

This graph shows that phytic acid can be virtually eliminated in wheat and rye with a one hour soak in a somewhat acidic solution where the soaking water is maintained at 45 Centigrade (113 Fahrenheit) for the duration.

I've never been able to find reputable, scientific studies that show that longer soaking at lower temperatures achieve the same result.

In addition, I've never been able to find reputable, scientific studies that show the pH values of buttermilk, sourdough starter, homemade whey or other liquid ingredients typically used by home bakers interested in this topic. Without this info I cannot determine if these liquid ingredients have the correct pH value of 4.5 that is required to achieve significant phytase reduction in one hour.

If anyone has good data (from scientific journals please!) that they'd like to contribute to this discussion, please post the references. I'd be very interested.