How To Germinate Brown Rice

Germinated brown rice is one of my favourite prep tricks to turn a potentially toxic, hard-to-digest, high-phytate grain into a highly nutritious food that delivers much higher levels of magnesium, vitamin E, the antioxidant ferulic acid and gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) to our bodies.

GABA is the main calming neurotransmitter in our central system. When you’re low in GABA, you may experience anxiety, insomnia, irritability and depression or be downright cranky. Clearly, we could all do with a bit more GABA and if this can come in the form of munching on some delicious germinated brown rice, why not?

While germinated brown rice or GBR, as it is referred to in scientific circles (that’s right, they’ve done a lot of studies on this humble grain), has been used commonly in Japanese and Korean cuisine for a very long time, the West is only just catching up with the health benefits of this staple food.

A search for GBR in PubMed, the worldwide scientific database of peer-reviewed articles, will retrieve a number of recent studies and reviews, all from the past ten years. When reviewing the evidence, it is clear that we need more clinical studies to award it the status of superfood and certainly, if you’re suffering from chronic anxiety, I wouldn’t recommend relying on GBR to fix your low GABA issues.

However, there is preliminary evidence for its role in reducing levels of fasting blood glucose, total cholesterol and triglycerides 1, probably due to the anti-oxidant and DNA protecting effects of GABA.

So, while science is catching up, I would encourage you to incorporate this cheap, easy and traditional way of preparing brown rice to increase its nutritional content and digestibility, while decreasing its levels of phytates, the anti-nutrients found in all grains that bind up minerals within and make them less bio-available to humans.

There are so many complicated posts out there on how to germinate brown rice. Some even include very fancy home-made pressure cookers. The fact is that all you need is some warm water and some brown rice. That’s it.

So here’s my fancy recipe for how to germinate brown rice!


  • Brown rice
  • Warm water


  • Rinse the brown rice, then place it in a bowl. If you’re lucky enough to own a Thermoserver you can use that.
  • Cover the rice with warm water (I usually put in cold water first then add enough hot water from the kettle so I can just feel the warmth with my finger). Cover with a tea towel or a lid if using the thermoserver, and leave on the bench overnight.
  • The next morning do the same. By evening you should see tiny sprouts coming out of each grain. If not, rinse the rice and repeat one more time.

That’s it.

You can then cook your GBR as usual, though I find that for risottos I have to reduce cooking time a bit as the soaking process softens the grains.