Rejuvelac is a cultured probiotic-rich drink made by fermenting freshly sprouted grains in water. It first became popular in the 1960’s under the influence of living food enthusiast Dr. Ann Wigmore, the original founder of the Hippocrates Health Institute.
What is Rejuvelac Exactly?
It is essentially the fermentation of sprouted grains in pure water for a 1-2 day period of time. It is traditionally made from wheat berries, but can also be produced from other varieties like rye, kamut, barley, millet or quinoa, each having there own special bouquet of flavors. It is one of those fermented foods that can’t be purchased from the health food store, but must be created homemade-style.
Rejuvelac is a bit different than other ferments in that you are not using a specific culture starter, like you would when making kombucha, kefir,sauerkraut, miso and tempeh. It is considered a “wild fermentation” in which the beneficial microorganisms needed to successfully culture the water are naturally present on the grains and sprouts themselves.
As we mentioned, the process of fermenting the sprouts in water encourages high enzymatic activity but also, as a lactic acid ferment, supports the production of beneficial Lactobacillus bacteria. When consumed, these friendly microbes can further proliferate the gastrointestinal tract and help to balance our “inner body ecology.”
The active enzymes in the cultured water are largely a byproduct of the grain sprouting process. Like the name implies, rejuvelac is “rejuvenating” and is a “super sprout drink”, made from these concentrated energizing compounds.
What are Sprouted Grains?
All raw grains, seeds and most nuts will sprout little roots when given the water needed to do so. Soaking them overnight is the best way to ensure that they will sprout or grow a little white root-hair from the end of the seed. This is what is needed to activate the lacto-fermentation process required to make rejuvelac.
In the words of Sandor Katz, “When you soak the grain, it begins to swell, setting in motion a series of changes that, given the right conditions, will result in its sprouting into a new plant. At the same time, water also revives the bacteria and fungi that populate the grain’s surfaces, and initiates fermentation.”
Rejuvelac is much easier to make of course, if you are familiar with the seed sprouting process. Many grains and seeds are “sprouted” when growing sprouts,microgreens as well as when making essene bread, sprouted rye crackers or rejuvelac. Sprouting is not all that complicated, but it does take some practice, mostly just keeping up with rinsing and making sure you don’t sprout them too far.
The same method is also used to sprout wheat berries for tray-growing wheatgrass. Dr. Ann Wigmore was also one of the first to discover the healing properties of wheatgrass juice, which she used medicinally, along with rejuvelac, with great success in her holistic health care practice.
How to Sprout Grains
Sprouting the grain first before fermentation is key as it contains the mentioned essential components to need for a successful health enhancing drink. This will take a few days of preparation before you make your actual recipe.
First off, you want to use whole, raw, non-GMO and preferably organic grains that have not been heat treated or radiated. Once you have some high quality grain seeds, in this case either soft wheat berries or quinoa for the two recipes on this page.
Directions for Sprouting Grains:
- Take 1C of dry grain and rinse it thoroughly in clean pure water
- Soak it over night, or about 8 hours, in a 1 quart mason jar with a loose lid.
- Place a clean mesh lid on the top of the jar and strain out the soak water.
- Fill the jar again with pure water, stir and strain again.
- Flip the jar over, with the mesh lid on the bottom, into a dish to drain and eventually sprout.
- Rinse your jar of grains once a day.
- Watch for sprouting hairs after day one, it usually takes between 1-2 days depending on the room temperature.
Health Benefits of Rejuvelac
Enzyme-rich Drink and Digestive Aid
When you consume foods that cannot be efficiently broken down by the body, you are left with undigested waste material and toxins that gets trapped inside the gut, causing bloating, constipation, obesity, fatigue and lowered immune response. Consuming lacto-fermented foods, like rejuvelac, can be a valuable asset to overall health and helpful for processing the leftover byproducts of a low quality enzyme-less diet.
Rejuvelac is very high in enzyme content, which is created from the bacteria and yeasts present, one of which includes the amylase enzyme producing Aspergillus oryzae species, the “koji” culture used to ferment miso. In addition, sprouted grains themselves are known to have very energizing effects on the body, mostly due to their improved level of sprout activated enzymes that continue to increase when fermented.
Dr. Johannes Kuhl, a German researcher and author of several books including “Cancer in Check”, wrote this about the benefits of lacto-fermented foods:
“The natural lactic acid and fermentive enzymes which are produced during the fermentation process have a beneficial effect on the metabolism and a curative effect on disease. Lactic acid destroys harmful intestinal bacteria and contributes to the better digestion and assimilation of the nutrients. Fermented foods improve the intestinal tract and provide a proper environment for the body’s own vitamin production within the intestines.”
A Liquid Probiotic Tonic for Intestinal Balance
Rejuvelac is a nutritious and energizing probiotic tonic for inoculating the large intestine with friendly Lactobacillus microflora and encouraging the healthy proliferation of good bacteria. It is helpful to consume probiotic supplements and/or fermented foods for this reason on a regular basis and this sprouted wheat berry drink is an easy to make inexpensive option.
A healthy balance of intestinal microorganisms should include approximately 80% bacterial group-based species, like Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium, and 20% of the more acidic fungal group-based species such as Candida albicans, which are beneficial in small amounts.
Other Nutritional Components
In research conducted by food chemist Dr Harvey Lisle, rejuvelac was shown to be rich in proteins, carbohydrates, Lactobacillus, B vitamins, Vit. C, Vit. E, dextrines, phosphates, Saccharomyces and Aspergillus oryzae.
Rejuvelac Benefits List
- Introduces friendly lacto-bacteria into the gastrointestinal tract
- Moves and cleans the bowels, encouraging regular bowel movements
- Energizes the body through enzymatic activity
- Removes toxins and excess undigested waste material
- Acts as a digestive aid and increases the absorption of nutrients
Can Rejuvalac Go Bad?
Yes, during the process of fermentation, rejuvelac can spoil and produce an inedible liquid, which means that other unfriendly microbes have taking over the ferment and have dominated the lacto-bacteria present. This is usually obvious with a very strong, unpleasant putrid odor. It will also look overly cloudy with possible mold growing on the surface.
You will need to discard it and begin again with clean sanitized equipment. Spoilage offer occurs when the environmental conditions were either too hot, too humid or both. Ideally a 70-75°F (21-24°C) temperature is best for optimal results.
Suggestions to Prevent Spoilage
- Use very hot soapy water to clean the jars, lids or any utensils used.
- Thoroughly rinse in hot water to remove all soap residue.
- Purchase fresh dry organic grains from a reputable source.
- Rinse grains briefly in a pure water before soaking them.
- Use clean towels to dry your equipment and a clean cloth, or preferably loose lid on top of the jar with a cloth over it.
- Never use tap water, only pure filtered or distilled water.
- Do not reuse your grains to make a second batch (a commonly employed technique), use fresh sprouted grains only, not leftovers.
Traditional Rejuvelac Recipe
This is a traditional rejuvelac recipe made with soft wheat berries. Most people sensitive to gluten, can easily digest this form of sprouted grain liquid, but for people with severe allergic reactions to gluten or those who have celiac disease, it is best to use other non-glutenous varieties.
- sprouted soft wheat berries
(using 1C dry grain )
- 3/4 pure filtered or distilled water
- Using a clean, sanitized quart jar and mesh lid, add your sprouted grains.
- Add 3/4 quart of cool filtered or distilled water.
- Cover your quart jar with a loose lid or a mesh lid and cloth over the top.
(As with all ferments, it is important not to use a tightly screwed lid as they may potentially explode.)
- Ferment on a counter-top or cupboard space , but keep out of direct sunlight.
- Gently swirl the jar a couple times a day to move the grains around.
- Allow to ferment for 1-2 days or until it becomes slightly cloudy with some bubbles.
- Sometimes a slight film may develop on top which can be scrapped off.
- When it is ready to decant, strain the liquid out and compost the sprout grains.
- Store in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
How to Use
Rejuvelac does agree with most people, but not everyone, so it is good to start out slow with small amounts (2T) to test it out if you are digestively sensitive.
Drink rejuvelac first thing in the morning as well as before or between meals for optimal benefits. It is best consumed in smaller quantities rather than large glasses, especially if you are new to drinking it.