Introduction: HOWTO Make GBR (germinated or Sprouted Brown Rice)

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: 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.

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

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

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

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!

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)

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!