Traditional cultures knew that to properly access all the nutrition in grains, soaking or fermenting was necessary. Fermenting seeds, nuts and grains makes them more digestible and unlocks minerals for absorption by our guts.
Soaking grains neutralizes phytic acid, which is found in the bran of all cereal grains. Phytic acid is considered an “anti-nutrient” because it binds with other minerals such as calcium, magnesium, and zinc, preventing your body from being able to absorb them. So you’re “unlocking” these nutrients by soaking/fermenting the grains first. Soaking grains also allows them to cook in a fraction of the time of non-soaked grains.
Creating the “Porridge Pot”
I keep a perpetual starter in a quart-sized (for 1-2 people) wide-mouth mason jar. I begin the starter by adding 2 servings of grains. Once it has initially fermented (which takes about 2-3 days), I then use half the contents daily to cook, leaving enough to continue the ferment.
You might see bubbles forming in the glass, and it will take on a characteristic “sour” smell, like sourdough. If you wait 2 days or longer, you’ll definitely notice a soured smell. (This is a good thing, because it means the lactobacilli bacteria have come to the party!) The fermentation activity varies with the season and the climate.
Another great thing about the starter is that it’s very stable. I’ve gone a full week without using it, and it just keeps on fermentin’! Note that the sour taste mostly cooks out… but not while it’s cooking, mind you. It will be a bit stinky while it cooks, but it cooks quickly!
Some Serving Suggestions
Here are a few ideas as to what to mix into your porridge. Savory or sweet, the sky is the limit!
Hot Cereal (Porridge)
- 150 grams about 1 cup groats, rolled or steel-cut oats, wheat berries, rye berries, millet, barley or any other (preferably whole and organic) cereal grain
- Filtered water
- Sea salt
- Pickle brine optional
- Raw honey optional
- your favorite seasonal fresh or dried fruit
- Your favorite nutrient-dense fat coconut oil, or raw or pastured butter (optional)
Create Porridge "Starter"
- Add grains to a wide-mouth glass quart-sized jar. Fill with 500 ml (2 cups) water. Optionally you can add a tablespoon (15 ml) of sauerkraut juice or pickle brine to kickstart fermentation.
- Cover loosely with jar lid and ring. Wait 24 to 48 hours before making your first batch.
- You should start to see bubbles forming in the glass, and it will take on a “sour” aroma.
- Bring 250 ml (1 cup) of water with a pinch of salt to a boil.
- Add half the fermented grains (6-8 ounces by volume, about 6 heaping tablespoons) to the water.
- Lower heat to medium and simmer 5-7 minutes. Stir frequently, being mindful not to let the bottom burn! When there’s no extra liquid sitting on top, it’s ready.
- Pour into a bowl over sliced fresh or dried fruit, raw honey, and/or fat or butter. Grate fresh cinnamon or nutmeg on top.
- Add another 100 grams (2/3 cup) dry grains and 100 ml (about 1/2 cup) water to the starter jar.