I think a lot about food. I raise as much of my own as I can, and I love cooking. As a primary need, food drives almost every aspect of life. The thought of food shortages inspired my writing for Botanicaust. In a world where food is scarce, people need to preserve any excess for the lean times. Hence the invention of salting, pickling, smoking, fermenting, and brewing. I imagine most of these methods came about by accident.
In the case of beer making, ancient people would store barley, only to find it had sprouted in storage, most likely too early to plant. In an attempt to salvage the food stores, they dried the grain, and somewhere along the way, it got wet, fermented, and someone said, “Hey, this is pretty good shtuff!”
Beer-makers today have it easy. Malt comes in extract form, ready to add hops and start brewing. But for those of us who are gluten intolerant, beer making is more complicated. Sure, we can use just sorghum or rice syrup, but for a truly full beer flavor, we need to combine several different grains.
Here I’m going to describe how to make malted buckwheat to add to gluten-free beer wort. Why bother to malt it? The process of sprouting a grain causes enzymes in the grain to convert starches to sugars, thereby making it easier for the yeast to turn it into alcohol. The malted grain also changes the flavor of the beer. You can use this process to malt almost any grain.
To begin, buy about a pound of raw buckwheat groats at your local health food store. Rinse and soak the buckwheat in clean water for about six hours, like beans. They will swell to twice their size. Rinse them well (they will be starchy) and drain them. Then put them in a loosely covered bowl (I used a sprouting jar – the same kind used for alfalfa sprouts) and let them sit at room temperature for two days, rinsing every eight hours or so. They will begin to grow a root, called a radicle.
Once the radicle is twice as long as the seed, spread the seed in a thin layer on paper towels to dry. After they are dry, pour them off the paper towels onto cookie sheets and place them in a 170˚F oven. Stir frequently until they are lightly toasted (10 minutes or so, depending on how dark you want them.) Go ahead and taste a couple if you want to.
Coming soon How to Make Gluten Free Beer.
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© Tam Linsey, 2011. All rights reserved.