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HOWTO make GBR (germinated or sprouted brown rice)

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Thanks everyone for making this a popular instructable! This is a perfectly fine way to make good brown rice, but I should mention that I now use the method detailed here: http://wholehealthsource.blogspot.jp/2009/04/new-way-to-soak-brown-rice.html You can use the tools listed in this instructable with the new method, or you can use a warming box or room temperature if it's over 27C where you live.

It's been a few years since I've posted it, so by way of an update I'll answer a couple questions here. 1. The purpose of the hot plate is to keep the rice at a temperature at which it will sprout. If it's warm out, you don't need the hot plate. Recently I built a warming box powered by a simple light bulb attached to a temperature sensor; I put the pot of rice in there and it works great. Easier but a bit more expensive than the hot plate. 2. You can also sprout rice as you would alfalfa sprouts--soak, and then rinse and turn the jar upside down over a strainer. Personally, I find it easier to sprout when the rice is in water. 3. Green tea works to reduce the presence of bad bacteria that cause spoiling. Recently, though, I have had more luck using whey or other fermenter starters. Anyone experimented with this?

This tutorial will describe how to make germinated brown rice (GBR). Why do you want to do this? Because it's healthier and better tasting (I think) than the regular version! I'll discuss some of the health benefits and ways of making it.

Sprouted brown rice can also be called sprouted brown rice, GABA brown rice (for the amino acid GABA that is created during the sprouting), or hatsuga genmai in Japanese.

On page one is a short history and some health benefits. Skip to page two to get straight to the how-to.

 
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Step 1: History of GBR

First, a really short history. Although people around the world have probably been eating GBR for thousands of years, what we now call GBR or GABA rice was 'discovered' in 2004, the United Nation's Year of Rice, as part of their research into rice. Since then it's become a health craze in some parts of the world, inspiring (predictably) many variants on automatic family-oriented GBR-making machines in Japan.

Why not just buy a machine? GBR is made by soaking brown rice in warm water for up to three days. The rice machines that claim to have a GBR setting soak for two to three hours. Although this probably has some health benefit, most people seem to agree that it's not long enough to properly germinate the rice. Why don't they make the cycle longer? The water gets stinky ... we'll deal with that later.

The rice is also sold by many companies around Japan now. I might go into the business too--it looks like they're making silly profits! They're charging 1000 to 2500 yen for a kilo of rice! One-cup versions on sale in America are about $3 a serving, also pretty expensive.

Step 2: Health benefits of GBR

On to some health benefits. Personally, I find GBR to be the easiest rice to eat. I've been eating white rice for years in Japan and never enjoyed it. It feels heavy and sticky, I get really sleepy after eating a big bowl, and of course we all know that it's really poor in vitamins and fiber. I started eating brown rice for all of my rice meals this year, and while I've enjoyed it, it also makes my stomach feel very heavy. GBR has a mellow flavor and a soft mouthfeel, and is just really enjoyable to eat.

The most touted health benefit to GBR is the amino acid GABA, or gamma-aminobutyric acid, that is created during germination. GBR apparently has twice the GABA of regular brown rice, and ten times the GABA of white rice, from 6 to 40 mg of GABA per 100 grams of rice. GABA is an inhibitory neurotransmitter that seems to have the following benefits: promotes fat loss by the stimulation of the production of Human Growth Hormone; increases the sleep cycle giving deeper rest; boosts the immune system; lowers blood pressure; inhibits development of cancer cells; assists the treatment of enxiety disorders.

Step 3: Germinating your brown rice: about the hot plate

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You need brown rice to make GBR. White rice has had the hull removed, which means that it is no longer capable of germinating.

GBR is made by soaking brown rice in warm water (30-40 C, 86-104 F) for up to three days. You can soak it for a much shorter time; what you'll want to see is the sprout start to emerge from the grain of rice. Research has been done on GABA production in Japan that relies on a 16-hour soak cycle.

For equipment I use the pot from one of my rice cookers, the cheapest hot plate I could find, a dial rheostat for controlling the power into the hot plate, and a home medical thermometer.

For this setup, having a cheap hot plate is essential. Adjustable ones sold in Japan start at 80 degrees C for keeping food warm, and generally have a stop at 100 (for boiling water) and 200 (for frying in oil). This is way too hot for sprouting rice! Limiting the flow of electricity into one of these will simply make it not work, as the electrical components are designed to work at regular outlet voltage. Try to find a recycle shop somewhere and pick up the cheapest one you can find; it should be fine. If you're not sure, take it apart and make sure that it's just the plug wires going straight to some kind of metal plate inside.

Step 4: Germinating your brown rice: getting a power controller/dimmer switch

Picture of Germinating your brown rice: getting a power controller/dimmer switch
To control the flow of electricity to the hot plate, you can wire a dimmer switch yourself. I couldn't find any suitable ones in Japan, so I bought a light controller (raito kontorooraa in Japanese--and no, you unfortunately don't sound like Scooby Doo when you say it). Here's the model I used. . They also have a power controller available (pawaa kontorooraa) here . You can find these at home improvement stores like Konan, or you can order them on the internet.

Run some water out of your tap at the desired temperature, put it in your container, and find the sweet spot on the dial by measuring the fluctuations in temperature in the water.

Step 5: Germinating and cooking your brown rice

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When you figure out how to maintain your water temperature, rinse off your rice a few times and set it for soaking. You'll want to have about 1-2 cm of water over the top of the rice. You can figure out for yourself how long you like to soak your rice, but a minimum is about four hours. I let mine soak for at least 16 if I can.

You'll want to change the water every 4-6 hours or it'll start to go bad from bacteria and waste produced by the rice, and that flavor will soak into the rice to a certain extent.

Your sprouted rice may have a slight odor to it after a few hours germinating. That's fine; it goes away when you boil it. But if it's really smelly or if your water has bubbles or foam floating, then you've let it go too long. Rinse the rice, put new water in, and keep germinating it. That will help make it smell better. Change your water more often.

See both pictures below for before and after germination images.

When you're ready to cook it, give it a good rinse and boil it like regular rice. You'll need less water than usual, as it's soaked up a lot in the germinating process. Note for raw foods people: the rice at this point is quite soft and easy to eat without boiling.

Step 6: And one hack for making even better GBR!

Picture of And one hack for making even better GBR!
That's the basics, but here's one more way to make it even more healthy. As reported by Mellow Monk in his Green Tea Blog, the Shimane Prefecture Agricultural Technology Center in Japan found that if you germinate the rice in green tea, the GABA is increased again--up to three times the amount in GBR that's available on the market in Japan.

Here's a clip from Mellow Monk's blog (previous link):
The researchers theorize that green tea prevents GABA loss in two ways: because of its higher osmotic pressure and because it naturally inhibits the growth of bacteria, thus eliminating the need to change the water during germination. One also has to surmise that the green tea also acts like a natural plant-growth stimulator--after all, many Japanese pour leftover green tea on their houseplants and use old tea leaves as a garden fertilizer. Finally, brown rice germinated in green tea obviously absorbs the tea's polyphenols and other good stuff.

Source: Nihon Nogyo Shimbun (Japan Agriculture Newspaper) http://www.nougyou-shimbun.ne.jp/modules/bulletin8/article.php?storyid=336

I should mention that the more bitter green tea is, the more healthy it apparently is. The goal is not to make a delicious cup of tea, but to make a strong one, so I really boil the snot out of my tea when I make it for GBR. With the green tea, I can germinate the rice for 16 hours without changing the liquid.

Happy sprouting, and don't forget to comment with your experiences!
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Here are two very simple methods you can use.

1) Buy a Germination Pad: A "Germination Pad" is like a hot pad used for sore muscles, but with lower temperatures designed to get seeds in trays (or sprouts) to germinate. They are cheap and useful for sprouting or growing plant starts and microgreens. If you are into GBR, then you are probably interested in sprouting and should own one anyway. You can even buy a thermostat that attaches if you want the ability to program the EXACT temperature such as 85F if that's what you want. I bought these online at a popular online retailer/bookstore that we all know about.

2) Ambient Heat: Another simple method would be to turn up the thermostat you already have- the one in your house, above 27C/80.6F in that room for one day to get it to germinate, maybe even giving it a good burst of 90F to get things going - OR you could try a small space heater nearby to ensure this minimum temperature.

3) I use a Zojirushi Rice Cooker with GABA functionality to cook GBR. The GABA Brown setting uses a long soak and a long, lower temperature cook cycle (to avoid destroying the GABA and nutrients that might be denatured by higher heat)

This GABA feature is cool and we love it. However I know that the default setting of 2 hours soaking in warm water is LAME. That won't allow anywhere near full germination. To get anywhere near useful germination levels, combine the GABA setting with the TIMER function to extend the soak/germination time. You need to experiment with the TIMER function if you are serious about making GBR.

What I do personally is wash the brown rice very well, IMPORTANT: give it a flash soak in mild vinegar water to kill yeast and bacteria, then rinse very well again- **ideally with cooled boiled water so it is sterile (this will improve your results alot if you are worried about avoiding that "cheesy" smell). Now you are starting off very "clean".

Select "GABAbrown" and set the TIMER function to 13 hours or more. You may sneak in another rinse or two during this waiting period, if you can avoid disrupting the timer/GABA settings. My model (Zojirushi NP-HBC-10) lets me get away with this meddling.

*Using the TIMER function works because the Zojirushi's computer chip "knows" how long you've been soaking your rice and it recalculates cooking time and temperature based on this timer delay, so you still end up with perfectly-cooked rice every time, with little chance of getting sick. If you try soaking rice outside in a bowl and then introducing it into a programmable rice cooker, the cooker will assume you are starting with hard fresh rice, and likely overcook it into mush.

That is the upside. The downside is that you might not be able to soak/germinate as long as you want, and you can't do rinses after a certain point once the timer hours run out and it starts the 3-hour slow cook.

"Blood-Brain Barrier" defeatism:

I know that lots of people say that GABA doesn't cross the blood-brain barrier and because of this it isn't useful to germinate rice. To this, I simply suggest that these people may be committing "The Luddic Fallacy" or assuming that "that which has not yet been proven must be false", though it could be totally valid.

It is possible that giving the body plenty of GABA in food and the bloodstream:

A) might give the body everything it needs to make plenty of its own GABA , leading to higher serum and brain GABA levels than the body would produce under different circumstances. Or having plenty of those raw materials in circulation could free up demands elsewhere in the body, allowing it to make more neurotransmitters. We just don't know.

B) that there could be other beneficial components to germinated rice such as vitamins, enzymes, aminos, and other compounds, etc that make sprouting or germinating rice useful. (this is likely true)

C) There could be undiscovered receptors throughout the body that interact with GABA in the bloodstream or gut- we are constantly finding out new things about the human body, immune system, neurology, and the brain. We recently discovered that there are olfactory (smell) receptors all over the skin- very few and widely placed, but they are there... sandalwood incense and aromatherapy, anyone? Some people might have lauded aromatherapy in the past. Keep an open mind and if people want to eat common, whole, natural foods, it's usually not a bad thing. Almost all grains, seeds, nuts, and beans are better for you when sprouted or germinated, as long as the right methods are used.

Personally I'd rather germinate and HOPE to recieve health benefits.

bluescrubby (author)  シュッツェマ7 months ago
Lots of great information in here, thanks for posting!

Thanks. I could be really, really geeky and post more about microbiology and biochemistry of it all. But the main points are there. You need clean rice and water, clean procedures and handling, a precise temperature, and the longest time you can germinate without it starting to ferment (rot). Just like with gardening or sprouting microgreens, everything needs to be done scientifically using best practices, almost like a science experiment. This is what gets you the best results.

I am interested in making GABA Red (Bhutan rice) and GABA Black (Chinese Black Rice)... these can also be done. But don't mess it up- these rices are expensive! I think the slower and longer cooking methods makes these rices less hard ("al dente") and more perfect, especially with red rice.

Put the geek stuff in a separate linked offsite article, because sometimes exact info is necessary but not everyone wants or needs it.

Thanks. By the way, I have never used green tea. I might try it soon because I find that interesting. But right now I'm preparing to make carrot cake, green tea brownies, paella, Aomori Black Garlic and other treats inside my rice old cooker, using parchment paper and some grapeseed oil (which handles high temperatures and long cooking very well compared to other oils).

rosewater6 years ago
I've used a rice cooker on it's warm, as opposed to " cook" setting. I didn't use a thermometer so I can't vouch for if it was actually below the recommended temperatures for raw diets. You mention that the temperature should be between 86-104 F but most raw books say that the living enzymes that are beneficial to our health are destroyed when they are above our bodies temperature, 98.6 F
bluescrubby (author)  rosewater6 years ago
Perhaps I miscalculated or got some bum information from the internets... At any rate, you're right--I think just over 70 degrees F should be sufficient for sprouting. However, many sources seem to say that up to 100 degrees or more is perfect for germination. My experience is that as long as you keep the water fresh, rice has a tendency to germinate in a wide range of temperatures. The warm setting on a rice cooker, though, is intended to keep food hot enough to prevent contamination, so I suspect it would be too warm for germinating rice. Did you succeed?

I read somewhere that the warm setting on a rice cooker is about 122F which indeed might be too hot for germination or sprouting. Some rice cookers have "Extended Keep Warm" feature which might be a slightly lower temperature.

There are these sprouting cups called "Sproutamo" which are amazing and foolproof for sprouting seeds, beans, anything really. I have four of them and rotate crops constantly so I always have germinated beans ready to cook, sprouts for salad, and spicy sprouts for pita sandwiches. I'm sure you can germinate brown rice in the cups, but then if you put it in a rice cooker it will "assume" that you are giving it hard rice, and you'll get mush. My rice cooker has a "hard" rice setting which might not overcook this sprouted rice... but I haven't tried it. That would be totally ideal because with this Sproutamo thing I've never gotten rot or mold since it has some sort of design to lift out heat generated by germination by convection, somehow keeping the seeds aerated/oxygenated without drying. It's very clever. This means that you could germinate brown rice for a very long time, until they are almost plants. I have turned mung beans into hundreds of little green and purple plant seedlings and never got nasty smells since I rinsed them in a glass pyrex pan and let them sit in sunlight while immersed in water for a while (turns the colors rich and bright, enhancing phytonutrients). I will try this technique on Brown Rice! One could always use a very lightly oiled nonstick pot to cook the GBR to perfection, the old-fashioned way, and then get the ultimate GABA rice!

bluescrubby (author)  シュッツェマ7 months ago

Yes, the regular warm setting is far too warm. In C, I germinate my rice at 27-28, and the rice warmer will keep it at 55 or above. For boiling it, though, if you just use less water than you'd use for white rice you'll be fine. If it's mushy, just decrease the amount next time until you find the right amount.

I have been able to use my rice cookers warm setting to keep the water close to 100 degrees by putting three potholders in the bottom and wrapping a double layer of paper towels around the bowl. This lifts the bowl up and creates less contact with the heat while the paper towels insulate the sides from the metal of the rice cooker and decrease the heat transfer as well. This is my first batch of rice so I haven't seen any results yet.
I don't know, I had to start over because I forgot to change the water. I've gotta start over. Considering that heat destroys nutrition, and the higher the heat the more carcinogenic food becomes*, and that we all want to be as healthy as possible, I wonder if I could find the lowest possible sprouting temperature for rice. It'd be a good question to ask on the raw forums.
As someone in the medical industry I can say that it's not as bad as it's made out to be. 'Carcinogen' is a term that's been massively abused by people who don't necessarily know what they're talking about (I'm not suggesting this is you!). It comes down to molecular chemistry, and while increasing the energy in a chemical system can increase the rate of change/reactions between in the molecules, this doesn't make them inherently carcinogenic. Also, not all beneficial molecules in food are destroyed by heating, some may have their numbers reduced (key word), but certainly not all molecules, and certainly not completely removed, and elemental nutrients (ions like Ca2+ for example) are definitely not affected.
The Zorirushi, says on their site that there baba model heats the rice for 2 hours, at 104 f, before going into the cook cycle..... Has anyone here tried to pressure cook the rice after it has sprouted?
Sprouting before cooking would be healthier than just cooking it, yes. I'm not sure about any difference steps in the actual preparation method though.

I'm sprouting the rice just at outdoor temp of about 86 c in distelated water with green tea leaving it 30 hours, then clean it dry it in the sun for one day and drop it in my rice cooker. taste great but wonder if this is the most healthiest way to eat it ? anybody knows?

bluescrubby (author)  Renethelegend1 year ago

I would change the water at 18 hours and then rinse well at 30 hours. I freeze mine--why do you dry yours? I wonder if the sun exposure could reduce any nutrients.

Ye probably rising once will keep it from almost fermenting, maybe better.I put it outside in the sun to absorb chorofiel (no idear how to write that) but perhaps the sun exposure or freeze kills the sprouts and make it less healthy that way? freeze to store it longer?

riendear7 years ago
What about using a heating pad and some towels for insulation?
wescc riendear1 year ago
your a towel
Do you rinse the rice before boiling, to rid it of the smellies?
bluescrubby (author)  spark master1 year ago
Absolutely. Rinse when necessary along the way, then rinse 2-3 times before draining and boiling.
cjolley2 years ago
Actually, I think I got it to work by just turning the hot plate on full power for ~30s a few times a day.

I find that, when cooking the rice, it smells like stinky cheese -- sort of like parmesan, but stronger. The taste is fine, but the smell gets to be a little much after a while. Is this normal, or should I be more careful about changing the water next time?
bluescrubby (author)  cjolley2 years ago
I know exactly what you're talking about. Check this article for great information on what to do with the water while soaking.
http://wholehealthsource.blogspot.jp/2009/04/new-way-to-soak-brown-rice.html

And then give it a very thorough rinse before adding your final water for boiling. If you rinse it in a bowl of water, there shouldn't be any more cloudiness coming off the rice before you boil it. I just use running water from my faucet though.
cjolley2 years ago
Hi... I'm trying to set this up using this hot plate (http://www.amazon.co.jp/gp/product/B0013B8G5G/) and the ライトコントローラ you mentioned. The problem that I've run into us that the hot plate is rated for 700W and the dimmer switch can only handle up to 200W, so when I plugged it in (turned to max) it lasted for about a second before the fuse in the dimmer switch blew. I replaced the fuse with a rolled-up piece of aluminum foil just to make sure the rest of it still works, but that's not really a viable long-term solution for something I'll be leaving unattended for long periods of time. I think the 200W limit should be OK as long as I always leave it near the low end of the dimmer range.

So now I'll get to my question... where can one buy a 200W fuse in Japan?
bluescrubby (author)  cjolley2 years ago
Hmm. The low end of the dimmer range should be fine. You can probably find a fuse at any home center in the electronics aisle. I recall getting one for a circuit tester a while back.
superanth3 years ago
Once you've germinated the rice, what's the best method of storage? I've bought dried GABA rice in stores, so I'm guessing drying it works?
bluescrubby (author)  superanth3 years ago
I always freeze mine. In the fridge it will continue to grow and go bad. Drying seems like more trouble than it's worth. Let us know if you try it!
83drummer3 years ago
It can also be sprouted using body heat in cold climates. For instance you could keep in in ziploc bags in a bra or in a pocket within in layered clothing.

(I'm developing a modern nomadic lifestyle that is independent of society).
xinia6 years ago
Well... I don't know why complicate something that can be sooo simple. Here's an easier way to sprout brown rice and it works!!

No need to waste energy keeping the concoction warm for 3 days.

http://radishboy.blogspot.com/2008/05/sprouted-brown-rice.html

If you cant get to the site here's the method:

1. Rinse 1 1/2 cups (or more if desired) brown rice several times until the water is clear.

2. Place the rice in a bowl and cover well with filtered water.

3. Let stand 12 hours or overnight.

4. Pour rice into a strainer and rinse well.

5. Set the strainer over a bowl to drain out of direct sunlight. Cover with a clean dishtowel.

6. Every 12 hours, rinse the rice well.

7. After 24 to 48 hours, small sprouts will appear. Use or refrigerate the rice until ready to use.

8. Cook as you would cook unsprouted brown rice, using slightly less water (for the 1 1/2 cups of rice in this recipe, use 2 cups water). The cooking time will also be shorter.

bluescrubby (author)  xinia6 years ago
True, but brown rice will only germinate in an ambient temperature of 70 degrees or more. If it's cooler than that, a modified hot plate is the cheapest way to provide localized, low-level heat!
You don't need ambient temperature of 70 degrees for rice to sprout. I live near the coast in Northern California, where it's generally pretty cool (50s to 60s most days, down to 40s at night -- even in summer!). I soak the rice in warm water for a day, then drain and cover, rinsing at least twice a day, and it sprouts just fine after 2-3 days. I no longer eat brown rice myself, so I'm sprouting what we have left for our chickens.
bobk_nyc xinia6 years ago
anyome do this in a pressure cooker. and have a time guess to start at?
raw lady3 years ago
I am going to try sprouting rice with my Excalibur dehydrator. Take a few trays out and place shallow pan on try. Can use the rest of the dehydrator for whatever. Has anyone tried this method?
bluescrubby (author)  raw lady3 years ago
Interesting. I think a dehydrator would not be a good environment for making sprouts, but it'll depend on how you do it--let us know how it goes!
lilyrose4 years ago
My husband bought a small crockpot with simple "high" & "low" settings, added a dimmer switch, and bought a nifty remote-reading digital thermometer (which was probably unnecessary but nice for me;-) Hadn't found this site before trying it, but he's gotten the temp to hold steady at 99-100 degrees F and soaked a cup of short-grain brown rice for 20 hours so far. I think a see a little germ opacity at one end of the grains but they're still starchy; just read that we were supposed to rinse every 4-6 hours, so this first batch may just be for experimenting, not for eating! I hope this will work with the short-grain stuff; I really like it best.

traductor34 years ago
I go along with Xinia. The method with the rheostated hotplate or dutch oven is overly complicated. Her method, and mine, will work nicely in warmer climates (such as Tucson). After thoroughly rinsing the rice, as she says, I soaked the grains in a screw-top jar with the lid loosely in place for approximately 12 hours. (I confess that I was flying blind because I had never sprouted rice previously. I had only sprouted wheat and several varieties of beans. My main interest is to produce salad sprouts, so I wonder if the final product will be soft enough for this purpose.) Anyway, I poured the grains into a large strainer--rinsing them carefully once more and piggy-backing them onto another strainer holding black beans that had been soaking concurrently. Then I placed both strainers into a black plastic polyethylene bag and left them over night in a warmish spot in my kitchen. Toward noon of the following day I noted that the beans had begun to sprout and that there were fine protrusions at one end of some of the grains. (Periodic rinsing is necessary of course.) They are now out in our Tucson spring sunlight, hopefully to finish the job. My only caveat: the tutorial says they'll be soft enough to eat raw, but the jury is still out on that one.
bluescrubby (author)  traductor34 years ago
Traductor3, you answer your own question. If you live in a warm climate, good for you. If not, use a hot plate.
Bluescrubby, you are correct. I thought I'd reinforce xinia's helpful comments for us warm climate denizens. Of course in summer many northern climes generate sufficient heat for several hours each day. (I grew up in N.Y. and we had long, sweltering summers.) But since you are the expert, can you tell me if my rice grains will soften up, and after how long? They have been germinating, in and out of the house, for over 20 hours; but the barely, though visibly, sprouted seeds are still quite crunchy. Also, will the sprouts get long and matted like my hard winter wheatberries do? Thanks.
bluescrubby (author)  traductor34 years ago
I usually soaked for 12 hours, then germinated for 2-3 days. You should be able to see them sprout after 1-2 days. Good luck!
Joyful Song4 years ago
Brown rice is an acid forming food. Does the germination change it to an alkaline forming food?
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