Sprouting of wheat grains in the fields can cause problems for farmers. It can cause health issues owing to mould and toxins that can potentially subsequently develop. But even if they don’t, it degrades the protein and starch in the grains, consequently lowering the price that the wheat can fetch.
When the wheat grains sprout, they release an alpha-amylase enzyme which causes the breakdown of the protein and starch. The result is that when the flour is used to make a dough, such as a bread dough, the flour will hold less water when mixed, so more flour must be used, affecting the baker’s cost. The resultant dough can be be wet and sticky, even with added flour, and make a gummy bread that is hard to slice. The dough may hold too much gas from the yeast, causing large holes and therefore deformed loaves of bread.
That being said, American all-purpose flours can contain up to 10% diastatic malt, which is sprouted barley. This is because sprouting converts some starches to sugars, giving yeast more readily-accessible food. This small percentage of flour from a sprouted grain can give the bread more heft, while avoiding gummy dough issues from too much flour from sprouted sources.
You can buy flour made entirely from wheat grains which have been forced to sprout on purpose under controlled circumstances. This is done because some people view such flour as more nutritious. They feel that sprouting makes some nutrients more readily available to the body.
To make your own Sprouted Wheat Flour:
Sprout the berries (takes several days — see entry on Wheat Berries for directions.)
Rinse and drain, then dry at a very low temperature, then grind into flour in a food mill or food processor.
The flour should be kept frozen, as it can go rancid very quickly.
You can also just freeze the sprouted berries and just grind as needed.
Wheat grains that have sprouted are technically referred to as “diastatic wheat.”
Willis, Kimberley. What can farmers do with the damaged wheat crop? Michigan: Detroit Country Living Examiner. 17 August 2009.