Grow sprouts for economical nutrition
Sprouts not only taste good, but they are also a great source of vitamins, fiber, protein, anti-oxidants, and enzymes.
A sprout is produced when a seed starts growing into a vegetable. Sprouts can grow from the seeds of vegetables, from grains such as buckwheat, and from beans. While Mung beans are perhaps the most familiar of the bean sprouts, you can also get good results from lentils, soybeans and chickpeas (garbanzos), just to name a few.
Sprouts can be grown almost anywhere and the best part is you only need a few basic supplies to get started. By following a few simple steps, you can receive a continual supply of nutritious sprouts.
While there are several commercial products available to cultivate sprouts, here are a couple of the easiest methods to help you get started.
Growing Sprouts in a Jar
1) Put about 1 tablespoon of alfalfa or clover seeds, or 4 tablespoons of beans or large seeds – removing any that are broken or damaged – in a wide-mouth glass jar (I like to use a mason jar; the screw-on ring part of the lid will hold your screening in place). Or [easyazon_link asin=”B002DZ585C” locale=”US” new_window=”default” nofollow=”default” tag=”realfoodsmake-20″ add_to_cart=”default” cloaking=”default” localization=”default” popups=”default”]use a jar designed for sprouting seeds[/easyazon_link].
2) Place a piece of cheesecloth, muslin, or clean panty hose over the mouth of the jar. Use a rubber band or the ring lid to hold the material securely in place. Rinse the seeds by filling the jar with water, gently swirl it around and then drain (that’s why you use a screen).
Lentils will take a lot more rinsing. They are coated with a starch that I swear turns to concrete when you add water.
3) Soak the seeds, grains, or beans in room temperature water overnight. In the morning, pour off the water in the jar and rinse the seeds/beans again. If you’re brave, you can drink this “seed tea.” It’s loaded with vitamins, but can be a bit strong for a novice. [Here in Texas, it’s risky leaving anything out on the counter in the summertime; sprouts can spoil quickly. The frig works fine for me if it’s hot out, just takes a little longer.]
4) To keep the sprouts constantly damp, repeat the rinsing 2-3 times a day. Remember to drain any excess water because the sprouts should not stand in water.
5) Keep the jar away from the light for the first few days.
6) When the seeds/beans begin to sprout – usually about the fourth day – move the jar into the light to activate the chlorophyll and turn the sprouts green.
Some Nuts Should Be Sprouted
Nuts with a skin darker than it’s interior should be soaked in water just long enough to swell. They are technically sprouted, but you don’t want to have them soak so long that you see the sprout. After all, nuts grow into trees. Kinda tough to eat. 🙂
Almonds, pecans, and walnuts fit into this category. Nuts with a “paper-like” skin (i.e. peanuts and Brazil nuts) are fine to eat as is.
Growing the Sprouts in Trays
Wheat grass and sunflower greens are more easily grown in trays.
1) Select a low, flat dish (like a pie plate) or tray. You can purchase growing trays from a planting supply place, use the “flats” from bedding plants (sometimes free from the nursery), or get “cafeteria trays” from the restaurant supply. In a pinch, you can use the short cardboard box from a case of canned soft drinks.
2) Remove any broken or damaged seeds before you begin the sprouting process. Rinse well as above (especially important with wheat). Soak the seeds or beans overnight.
3) Next, spread out a 1 inch layer of soil and sprinkle the soaked seeds or beans on top of the soil.
4) Cover the seeds/beans with four layers of damp newspaper. Cover the top of the tray with clear plastic wrap, or if you use the cafeteria-style trays, skip the newspaper and plastic. Cover with another tray (turn it upside down to make a lid).
5) When the sprouts start to lift the plastic cover, (usually about three days) remove the newspaper or tray-lid.
6) Place the tray in a window so that the light can turn the sprouts green. You will need a space to place the sprouting tray that receives daylight but is not in direct sunlight.
7) Because the thin layer of soil dries out quickly, water twice each day. Use a weak [easyazon_link asin=”B001A1VI8Q” locale=”US” new_window=”default” nofollow=”default” tag=”realfoodsmake-20″ add_to_cart=”default” cloaking=”default” localization=”default” popups=”default”] Kelp tea[/easyazon_link] or diluted [easyazon_link asin=”B002NB4UW8″ locale=”US” new_window=”default” nofollow=”default” tag=”realfoodsmake-20″ add_to_cart=”default” cloaking=”default” localization=”default” popups=”default”]Sea Water[/easyazon_link] for one watering to greatly increase the mineral content of your sprouts.
8) After about 8-10 days, you will have sprouts or greens tall enough to harvest.
Harvesting and Storing the Sprouts
Newly germinated grain, seed, and sprouts, increase (massively) in food value in the very first period of growth. Cereal grasses (from sprouting grains) should be harvested and eaten or juiced from when they are six days old until they are 4-5 inches tall.
To harvest, just take your kitchen scissors and cut what you need. Cut low, but be careful not to pick up soil.
Sprouts from beans, peas, etc., are ready earlier and can be eaten when they are 3-6 days old, depending on the type of sprout. For spouts grown in no soil or in seed trays, you can harvest the green “grass” when it starts to grow.
Sprouts, from grain sown in jars, are ready sooner and are edible even before they turn green. Seeds sown in soil take a little longer.
If necessary, wash the sprouts thoroughly to remove the seed coat.
Sprouts need to be stored in the refrigerator once they are ready to eat. Put the sprouts in tightly sealed bags, and they will remain flavorful and crisp for one to two weeks. Rinsing the sprouts daily under cold water can extend their life.
Seeds and Beans You Can Sprout
The following list gives some of the popularly sprouted seeds/beans. It is not all inclusive as you can sprout almost any kind of seed. Taste varies a lot; you’ll find your favorites.
Remember that seeds soak up 2-3 times their dry volume in water and sprouts need at least six times the volume occupied by the seeds.
So be sure that your container is large enough, and start with a minimal amount of seed in a container like a jar, until you determine the correct quantity that will grow the sprouts to the size you like, without being difficult to remove.
Your local or online health food store will probably carry a line of seeds for sprouting.
When purchasing seeds for sprouting, be certain that the seeds are intended for food and not for planting. This precaution is necessary because some seeds meant for planting have been treated with fungicides or insecticides.
Alfalfa, Broccoli, Clover, and Radish – should be soaked for 6-12 hours. The seeds can be planted in the pots or jars and also in the flats with soil. 1-part seed gives 10-parts sprouts in approximately 5-6 days. Sprouts can be eaten after 3 days. When the root is 1-2 inches long, it will begin to develop tiny green leaves. At this stage, it needs to be eaten immediately so the plant will not switch to photosynthesis that exhausts the stored food in the seed.
Peas – when soaked in a glass jar, will grow sprouts in about 3 days. When the roots are 2-inches long, they are ready to eat. 1-part peas gives 2-parts sprouts.
Lentils – can be grown in either a glass jar or a plant pot and need to be soaked for 12-hours (Don’t forget to rinse lentils til the water runs clear, or you won’t get your sprouts out of the jar without a chisel). The sprouts are ready in 3-4 days. Lentil sprouts are ready to be eaten when the root is 1-inch long. 1-part lentils gives 6-parts sprouts.
Barley, Oats, Rye, and Wheat – should be soaked for 12-hours and then can either be grown as “grass” to harvest, or sprouts ready to eat after 3-4 days. The ideal length for eating is about 1/2-inch. 1-part seed gives 2-parts sprouts.
Soybeans – you can grow these sprouts in a glass jar or a pot. They need to be soaked for 12-hours and sprouts are usually ready after 3-5 days. They are ready to eat when the root is 2-inches long. 1-part beans gives 4-parts sprouts. Use ONLY organic soybeans. The others are GMO.
Mung Beans – after soaking for 12-hours, these beans can be grown by any method. Mung beans are the sprouts usually found in Chinese food and are usually ready to eat after 3-5 days. When the bright, white root grows from 1-2 inches long, they are ready to eat. 1-part beans gives 4-parts sprouts.
Sunflower – Sprout hulled sunflower seeds in a jar. For sunflower greens (my favorite), soak and plant the [easyazon_link asin=”B000HB923I” locale=”US” new_window=”default” nofollow=”default” tag=”realfoodsmake-20″ add_to_cart=”default” cloaking=”default” localization=”default” popups=”default”]small black sunflower seeds[/easyazon_link] (hull intact) and grow them like cereal grasses in a tray.
By growing your own sprouts, you will save yourself money because it is less expensive to buy sprout seeds and grow and harvest the sprouts yourself, than it is to buy the sprouts from a market. Sprouting at home takes only a few minutes a day, and can produce a good part of your daily requirements of the nutrients you need from fresh produce. The hassles are minor, the costs are low, and the freshness is wonderful.
Nothing beats local produce, and you can’t get much more “local” than to grow sprouts in your own kitchen.