Sprouts are nuggets of nutrient gold! These little guys are packed with proteins, digestible energy, amino acids, phytochemicals, enzymes, vitamins and minerals and antioxidants. In short, they’re healthy little buggers! Sprouting at home is a cheap and easy way to grow hyper-locally, and provides a healthy variety to your diet year-round. Right on.
Read on for a handy how-to for newbie sprouters!
Photo courtesy of High Mowing Organic Seeds
Where can I get sprouting seeds?
When selecting seeds for sprouting, choose only organic sprouting seeds (some may also be labeled “pathogen-free” or “seed-quality”; a good thing to look for!). These labels ensure that the seeds have been handled in sanitary conditions, are free from contamination of harmful bacteria like E. coli and salmonella, and do not have any chemical coating.
Seeds go a long way, and can’t be stored for very long, so grow what you’ll ear! An approximate rule of thumb to figure out your yield is: 1 ounce of dry seed will yield about 1 cup of sprouts. Every sprout is different, though, and yields will vary. Experiment with what works for you. Store your unused seed in a cool, dry place, or in a freezer for anywhere from 1-5 years (follow guidelines on your seed package).
What is the best sprout for a novice sprouter?
Many sprouters cite alfafa, mung bean, lentils, and wheat grass as the best sprouts to start with at home.
What sprouts are edible?
There are lots of seeds that can be sprouted in a few days time on your windowsill. Most folks are familiar with mung bean or alfalfa sprouts, but there are a wide range of sprouts from the pea, cereal, oilseed, and vegetable families that add a tasty crunch to meals – either raw or cooked.
Alfalafa, fenugreek, mung bean, lentil, pea, chickpea, soybean
Oat, wheat, maize, rice, barley, rye, kamut, quinoa, amaranth, buckwheat
Seasame, sunflower, almond, hazelnut, linseed, peanut
Broccoli, carrot, spinach, cabbage, celery, fennel, onion, parsley, radish, turnip, leek, watercress, mustard, rocket (arugula), lemon grass, lettuce, clover, mizuna, milk thistle, tatsoi
*Some vegetable and herb sprouts are poisonous. Never consume sprouts from the solanaceae family: tomato, potato or eggplant. Rhubarb, paprika and aubergine sprouts are also a no-go. As are whole oats, which need to be steamed before eating or they will go rancid. Be careful!
What do I need to start sprouting?
Choose a sprouting vessel. Many containers lying around the house are great for sprouting – just be sure it’s not wood or metal (and, some glazed pottery can be toxic). Try your seeds in anything from a glass mason jar, a coffee percolator, a tea strainer, a colander, plastic bag or an unglazed flower pot. Just be sure that your container is wide enough in diameter so that seeds are not crowded and air and water can circulate and drain – your sprouts need to breathe, too! Mason jar method requires a strainer attached in order to remove excess water during daily rinsing. Place a piece of cheese cloth over the mouth of the jar and secure with a rubber band – easy-peasy sieve and sprouts can grow right through it!
How do I start the sprouting process?
Sprouts grow as a result of germination of a seed. When seeds or beans are moistened, they are awakened from dormancy and begin growing, or germinating. As the seed grows it releases carbon dioxide, other gases and heat as byproducts of the natural growth process. These wastes can be removed through the rinse and repeat method! It can take between 3-5 days for seeds to sprout!
There have been a number of “sproutbreaks” of E. coli and salmonella in commercial sprouts. To avoid bacterial formation on your sprouts, be sure to follow sprouting and harvesting directions for your variety! HOMEGROWN.org has an on-going discussion on the safety of alfalfa sprouts.
What are you sprouting this winter? Any favorites? Got any recipe ideas for sprouters? Let's hear them!