Let's say one wanted to extract fermentable sugar from corn. Is it worth it to malt it first?
I took 300 g organic feed corn and covered it in water for two days, drained it, kept it moist by rinsing it a couple times a day and allowed it to sprout (see image below). Then, I spread the sprouted corn on the concrete floor of my basement for a couple days until the kernels lost most of their moisture and looked like they did when started (only with sprouts hanging out of them, I couldn't determine residual moisture). I did not pull off the rootlets and ground up each batch using a corona mill. I then ground up some unmalted feed corn from the same bag and infused each of them in 1000 g of 170F water. I stirred both suspensions several times during the hour and filtered off the solids via mesh paint strainer bag with no rinsing of the grain bed.
Sugar determined by refractometer.
Malted: obtained 806 g of solution with 7.5% w/w dissolved sugar, 60 g sugar.
Unmalted: obtained 730 g of solution with 4.0% w/w dissolved sugar, 30 g sugar.
For some reason the unmalted absorbed more water resulting in a smaller filtrate volume.
Pretty big difference. The malting takes a lot of time, but almost no effort. If you need this kind of sugar for a project, I'd do the malting. With unmalted corn, it could be cooked for a long time to get more starch out, but then it gets gummy and difficult to filter. I simple infusion is operationally easier.