A GERM OF TRUTH IN ALL RUMORS…..

Recently, on an internet posting board called the "HOMESTEADERS' LIST", I read this question: "Anybody know if you can freeze wheat germ without destroying the magical rejuvenating powers of Vit B that are in it? "  I leapt to reply that indeed I did an as the internet encourages all kinds of confessions to an audience of faceless listeners. I confessed to being a wheat germ freezing nut from way back.

You do know about this magic food stuff, don't you? It has more B-Complex than any other food except liver. Vitamin B Complex, is the magic bullet that keeps our brains and nervous systems (and reproductive systems) cranking at full tilt. Without it, our hair goes gray, our hand palsies, we shriek 'oh no' all the time and act like a total jerk and we age and --oh yes,-- we go about not feeling ROMANTIC.

I wrote the list "FREEZE YOUR GERM kids, this stuff is worth it!" See WHY: Click on: http://en.citizendium.org/wiki/Wheat

Wheat germ is one of the 'food stuffs of life.' I grew up in a Hollywood home where Gaylord Hauser's books were on an altar next to my mother's photograph of Garbo. Gaylord was the food guru to the immaculate Virgin of Veganism, Greta the Great, the vestal virgin of the Cinema and a Virgo to boot. Hauser had about nine foods he really respected and I've learned to eat them all. Blackstrap Molasses, nearly raw beef liver and wheatgerm were at the top of the list. Get his many books at any library and you can read about the other six, avocado and I don't recall what. (Abe Books has his titles. My secret, LowCost way to ORDER, here!)

My way of looking at the whole concept of SUPER POWER FOODS is that if nearly raw liver means rolling some dredged, bloody red organ in a sizzling hot pan with oil and onions, so it's crusty on the outside, smothered with onions and blood red within --- then, that's what I do. And I find it absolutely delicious as sin and love the fact that it's VIRTUE personified. (Except to my vegetarian pals). It's a one second cure for anemia.

And if freezing is the only way to keep wheat germ and wheat germ the only way to have cheekbones like Greta Garbo, freeze I will. Hey, I think we have YOUR project for this next hour! CLEAN OUT THE DAMN FREEZER!

I buy wheat germ vacuum-packed in a coffee tin like arrangement, and make certain that the can hisses like a cat when I open it. Then, once it has been opened and all those high fat flakes are facing the sky, I transfer them immediately to a freezer container. Since the germ has a high oil content it can go rancid extremely fast so it goes from can to tupperware to the ole G.E. in three seconds flat and I lean against the fridge door panting.

I purchase no more than 1 lb at a time. When baking I substitute about 1/4 c. of wheat germ for the same amount of flour and do this for every 2 cups of flour. This increases the nutritional content of the cookie or bread bigtime.

Wheat Germ is delicious. It has a wonderful toasty flavor that you'll recognize as one of the components of bread baking aromas but as always is true in life, the best things are not FREE. The source of that flavor, the germ's OIL, is damn fragile.

As soon as the germ is separated from the wheat, it needs to be vacuum packed. There are two kinds of wheat germ, raw and toasted. You can buy it either way. Raw wheat germ tastes oddly incomplete so somebody has to toast it. I burn everything I cook and have a trove of Revereware under the sink to prove it, so I buy germ pre-toasted by more competent folk and vacuum packed.  But, if you can handle fire, Buy it raw, in a sealed can, and toast only what you need for your muffin recipe.

This foodstuff is notoriously fussy. If you open the can and remove some, the rest must be instantly sealed in an air-tight container and frozen. You can take your time using it. It won't mutate if it's cold enough. It takes me a month to use up a pound can and maybe less if one bakes regularly and has kids or visitors to eat your muffins.

MUFFIN LADY! My favorite germ delicacy is raisin/ bran/ carrot/ pineapple/walnut germ muffins. My secret ingredients are vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, orange rind, molasses, toasted sesame seeds, pineapple chunks and raisins but it's not the Coke formula. You can try your own melange.

Some people feel that as germ is the PROTEIN of the grain, one should not mix it with anything sweet. It should be treated like a steak and eaten with greens. In a famine, or say a comet or volcano covers the planet with clouds of ash and you can't grow broccoli and cows starve to death, these freezer wheatgerm muffins and your front lawn would be plenty of repast for anyone. A good thing to know.

There are recipes that have nothing BUT the wheat germ in them, but I'm for the creative baking thing and mixing germ with other grains. AND adding toasted sesame seeds, raisins and nuts and pineapple and orange rind to the batter. And when the muffins come out of the oven, and they're going to be served? I'm for toasting THEM again, and adding plenty of butter and honey. But then, I'm a food junkie of major proportions. You may not be.

Now, if you can't find wheat germ at your healthfood store as your city doesn't have such a store, or if you don't have a freezer, or if the comet struck and you don't have electricity, you can avoid headache and skip the challenge of storing wheat germ and improve your health all in one fell swoop by going another route. Buy wheat berries and store them in food-grade plastic containers, (drop a piece of dry ice in each barrel) in a cool place.. Like under the house, if it has ventilating portholes? Then every time you want a meal, take out a pound of berries, (don't let the neighbors see you,) soak overnight to remove phytic acid in all grains,rinse well,  then using a food mill, grind them fresh just before baking bread or whatever. The germ is in there, and intact. The flavor is superb, the nutrient level is as good as wheat gets. RECIPE FOR BIBLE BREAD HERE.

Wheat berries will keep for centuries in a cool place and there's no worrying if the electricity goes off, or if there's some minimal nutrient loss from freezing, and forget about having to mix back into pasty white flour what should have been left in. Bake all your bread out of these magic, live forever seeds. Yes, Wheat berries are seeds, and like nuts and eggs, all things that have everything needed to reproduce, are pretty close to perfect food if used whole.

After years of eating only whole wheat flour I am today mentally repulsed by, ---unfortunately not physically repulsed ---by white flour. I don't buy them, at all. If white pasty things are toasted by someone else and served served with butter, I will confess I am seriously TEMPTED. That's a sad, bad thing because if I eat any form of wheat flour three days in a row, I will get a  stuffy sinus. When I lived in the city, that would segue to a cold, but far from people's viruses, haven't had a cold in twenty years.  I know flour is no good because I'm an aficionado of top ramen (noodles) as they are handy, and easily get excused as it's a good way to eat a half pound of broccoli. I've proven that three day limit time and time again. My efforts to quit milled flours remind me of that saying Twain: "It's easy to give up white flour. I know, I've done it, THOUSANDS of times!" Only he said it about tobacco.

If you get really serious about whole wheat's magic powers, you should seek out the address of a supplier of biodynamically-grown wheat berries. The farm it was grown on should be a closed loop. NOTHING brought in from the outside chemicalized world. No fertilizers, no sprays.

As a postscript, a major cause of the high rate of obesity in America is that most of our wheat is deficient in chromium, necessary for converting fat to energy by the mitochondria of our cells. The culprit is monoculture, the mining of the soil by wheat growers for decades.

Doctor's Data, a Chicago trace-mineral analysis lab, found that organically grown wheat has twice the calcium, five times more magnesium, six times more manganese, and fourteen times more selenium (an antioxidant that prevents cancer) than conventionally grown wheat. This is true of vegetables grown on organic soil, as well. (with the caveat that the farmer can't be kidding about humus, compost, manure or his produce is just like factory soils. Just no using pesticides doesn't guarantee good soil!) But in a dilligent, knowledgeable farmer's plot, the increase can be grand, can turn out to be 14 times the mineral content of commercially grown vegies where no attention is given to soil humus.

So, ye of palsied hand, graying hair, low romantic inclination, Wheat your appetite with GERM! And sin no more with polished, empty carb-calories in white flour.

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