Rejuvelac Wild or Lactic fermented sprouted grain water
Rejuvelac is essentially a natural (yeast and lactic) fermentation of sprouted grains. One person quoted something to the effect of, "at its peak it is a pleasant tonic, but fermented too long or fermented wrong, it is simply putrid". If the grains were rye, it could be called Kvass (Russian or Slavic origin). Those advocating benefits of this beverage generally refer to the fact that the presence of lactic acid bacteria are probiotic and thus the drink is probiotic. There are two general steps: soaking/sprouting and fermenting. If the Rejuvelac is fermented to pH ≤ 4.2 it is no longer TCS and refrigeration for safety is not required. HACCP Category: Rejuvelac is a wild culture or lactic acid bacterial culture fermented grain product.
- Sprout the grains. Soak grains in water for overnight in the refrigerator. This step hydrates the grains. Drain the water and rinse the grains with warm water.
- Make an acidified water solution by adding canning citric acid powder to water to obtain a pH of ≤ 4.2. You will obviously need a pH meter.
- Pour the acidified water over the grains and leave at ambient temperature until they sprout. If you choose to rinse and drain the sprouting grains you must always re-moisten with the acidified water.
- Once the grains have sprouted, rinse one last time with fresh water. Add fresh water (not acidified) to submerge the sprouted grains.
- Inoculate with a (1) dried or freeze-dried culture or (2) a mother culture (a recent successful batch of rejuvelac).
- Cover the fermentation vessel with sanitary cheesecloth or a lid with an airlock. The culture may produce gas, so some method to permit the gas escape is needed. The water phase should become cloudy and smell fermented. Discard any batch that does not smell right (putrid, foul, sweat socks).
- Check the fermented beverage for pH. A pH ≤ 4.6 inhibits Clostridium botulinum and a pH ≤ 4.2 inhibits all foodborne illness bacteria.
- Strain the water as your final product. Some recommend reusing the grains one more time. Add fresh water to cover the grains and allow to ferment (see step 6.). The grains are already covered in culture, so a fermentation culture need not be added.
Sprouted grain water is considered a Temperature Control for Safety Food (TCS food). The grain water is neutral in pH, has nutrients, and does not have antimicrobials. This means that in general, all of the possible foodborne illness bacteria can grow in this food/beverage.
- Vegetative bacteria (e.g. E. coli O157, Listeria moncytogenes, Salmonella, and similar). Salmonella is associated with outbreaks in sprouts.
- Vegetative bacteria that produce toxins (Staphylococcus aureus)
- Sporeforming bacteria that produce toxins (Clostridium botulinum, C. perfringens, and Bacillus cereus). B. cereus is associated with outbreaks in starches and grains.
“Over the past 22 years, the FDA has investigated 50 reported outbreaks of foodborne illness associated with contaminated sprouts. Together, these outbreaks resulted in more than an estimated 2,600 cases of illness. In 2018, there were two reported outbreaks associated with sprouts, resulting in more than an estimated 100 illnesses. Studies indicate that contaminated seed is the likely source of most sprout-related outbreaks, as this commodity is inherently more susceptible to these issues because they are grown in warm and humid conditions that are favorable for bacteria like Salmonella, Listeria and E. coli,”
CCP1: Sprout grains in acidified water (pH ≤ 4.2). This prevents growth of all foodborne illness bacteria that might be present on the grains. Suggest using canning citric acid powder.
CCP2: Ferment RAPIDLY with an active culture to get the Rejuvelac pH ≤ 4.6 and then ≤ 4.2. At pH ≤ 4.6 C. botulinum cannot grow and at pH ≤ 4.2 no foodborne illness bacteria can grow.