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How to Grow Sprouts-A Quick Overview for Beginners
Sprouts, Living Nutrition
I became interested in sprouts when I began eating raw, living food. I had cut out all the grains in my life because the only ones I knew of were either processed or needed to be cooked. I was buying green sprouts in the supermarkets, but they were expensive and always went bad.
I didn't know anything about how to grow sprouts, but they were often mentioned in the recipes I read. So, I decided to research it. After my research I began and found out that it is actually very easy.
It is amazing that the 2 tablespoons of seed will grow into a crop of sprouts that fills the container. I end up with 2-2 1/2 cups of sprouts from 2 tablespoons of seed. I was paying about $2 for the same amount, and having some go bad each time. I paid 6 or 7 dollars for a pound of the seeds. For the price of 4-5 cartons of old, fairly tasteless sprouts, I now have a supply of fresh, extremely tasty sprouts that will probably last over a year. I have made several batches (2 months of constant growing), and my pound is barely dented.
Beans, nuts and grains do not yield such a large increase. You can plan on getting 1 and a half cups for every cup you sprout. Still, not bad.
Sprouts can be leafy greens, beans, nuts and grains. I will start with leafy greens. The obvious are the alfalfa, clover and broccoli. These are common items in the produce section of supermarkets. You can also sprout radish, cabbage, mustard and more.
Different types of sprouts taste differently. Most people are used to the taste of alfalfa and clover. I would say these are the "classic" sprout taste. Broccoli sprouts are more flavorful, while still being fairly mild. Radish sprouts are spicier with a sharp, crisp taste. Sprouts tend to taste like the plant they will grow into.
It is fun to experiment with the different types. You can also find pre-made mixes. These give you a nice blend of flavors that go well together and allows you to try types you do not usually eat.
You will need something to sprout your seed in. You can go from free, by using materials you have at home, to very extravagant, buying devices that rinse and drain without help. I suggest beginning with the less expensive ways to see if you really want to add sprouts into your diet.
I have something called an "Easy Sprouter". This device comes with a solid cup outside, a perforated cup inside and a dome lid and a flat lid. This is splendid for the beginner. But all you really need is a mason jar and a piece of screen.
You can also use a hemp bag. I use a hemp bag when I am sprouting beans. Hemp bags can be used for all types of sprouting. These are extremely simple because after you rinse well you just hang the bag over your sink and it drains for you.
A salad spinner is handy for drying the sprouts before storing them, but it is not necessary. You can also air dry the sprouts. A salad spinner just makes the drying process quicker.
How to Sprout Sprouts-Day 1
Alfalfa, clover and similar seeds go from seed to sprout in 4-5 days. The first thing you do is soak the seeds. My Easy Sprouter makes every step very easy, but not necessary. Put in about 2 tablespoons of seed. Cover them with 2-3 times their amount of cool water. Let them soak for 6-12 hours. You can do this step in a jar or glass if that is what you are using.
When they are done soaking, rinse them well in cool water. It is important to rinse them until the water is clear. The Easy Sprouter is two cups, one inside the other. The interior one has holes in the bottom to allow drainage, the outer is solid. I rinse the seeds using both cups, and lifting the interior cup to drain. I do this until the water is clear in the outer cup, usually about 7-10 rinses.
Be aware that most of the "sprout" seeds are fairly small. You will need a fine mesh screen to drain them if you are using a glass or jar to soak. If you do not have a fine mesh screen, drain them into a fine mesh strainer and rinse them well. You may lose some seeds but rinsing and draining are very important steps. The seeds will not sprout if you neglect or skimp on the rinsing and draining.
Next, drain the seeds very well. I shake the interior cup (not using the outer cup) over the sink. I shake and shake, spin the seeds with my clean finger, shake and shake. I put the interior cup back into the outer, cover with the lid that is included and set it on my counter. I read many recommendations to set it in a dark cupboard, but I find my counter works fine and I don't forget to rinse them.
If you do not have a device, a mason jar works well. I would think a glass would also work. Just put the rinsed and drained seeds in it and cover the top with a screen. Set the glass or jar on an angle with the opening facing down. Even if you don't have a screen, I would think it will work.
You want the jar/glass on an angle so that excess moisture will run down away from the seeds. The angle of the jar/glass should be 30 to 45 degrees. You do not want your seeds sitting in water. Slightly damp seeds sprout best.
Now you just rinse and drain 2-3 times a day and let nature take it's course. It is important to rinse until the water is clear and to drain well. Make sure the water is not too hot, keep it about 60-70 degrees F. It should feel cool, not cold, not warm, to your skin.
On the second or third day the sprouts will be intertwined with each other. Use your clean finger to gently loosen them and declump them. I will fill the cups half way with water and wiggle through the sprouts with my finger. This will keep the sprouts aerated and draining well. (My daughter will begin eating the sprouts right out of the sprouter at this point.) Continue rinsing, draining and loosening for one or two more days. The sprouts will be phenomenal!
Those Pesky Seed Pods
You will find your sprouts have very many seed pods in them. To get rid of most of these I will cover the sprouts with water. The seed pods float to the top and I drain them off. This is a tedious step, but I like my sprouts without so many pods. Make sure to stir the sprouts up with your clean finger to get more seed pods to the top. Stir and drain until you have an acceptable (to you) amount of seed pods left.
Before you store the sprouts, rinse and drain one last time and then let your sprouts dry some. My last drain is after I have gotten those pesky seed pods off. I have a small salad spinner that I use to dry my sprouts before putting them in the refrigerator. If you don't have one, let your sprouts air dry for about 8 hours before putting them in the refrigerator. Sprouts keep better and last longer if they are not wet.
Bean Sprout Salad
Can I Sprout Beans?
Beans are a good source of protein and excellent to eat when sprouted. You can sprout them as much or as little as you like. I usually sprout beans until they have a small (1/2") tail.
You should never eat raw, unsprouted beans. Unsprouted, they have enzymes that are harmful to our bodies. When soaked these enzymes are broken down and dissipated. Beans, grains, seeds, and nuts all go through chemical changes after soaking and during sprouting. Prior to soaking the seed is in a dormant state. After soaking, the seeds is coming alive. After soaking, the seeds have living enzymes that assist your body to digest them.
Hemp Sprouting Bag
How to Sprout Beans
I use a hemp bag for sprouting beans. This is a very simple style of sprouter. I have a shelf with hooks over my sink, so I just hang the bag to drain after I rinse.
Pick through you beans and rinse well before you soak them. It is possible that small pebbles or sticks may be in them. I put about 1/2 of a cup of beans into my hemp bag. I then place it in a bowl covering it with 2-3 times the amount of cool water. Soak the beans for 8-12 hours.
After soaking I rinse the beans, still in the bag, in the bowl. I run water through the bag into the bowl. Then I swish the bag around a lot (in the bowl) so that the beans float and roil around. I do this until the water is clear. Then I hang the bag, and repeat 2-3 times a day. With the hemp bag you can eliminate the drain step because it drains as it hangs.
Bean sprouts are done in 2-4 days, depending on how sprouted you like them. I like my bean sprouts with about 1/2 inch to 1 inch of sprout tail on them. My daughter likes them as soon as you can see the sprout. The bean sprouts keep well in the refrigerator and taste great on salads. Beans are also wonderful all by themselves. I love the lentils, my daughter's favorite are the peas. Both are slightly sweet and crunchy and delicious.
Can I Sprout Grains?
I use my Easy Sprouter to sprout small grains, such as quinoa, and the hemp bag to sprout larger grains, such as wheat. Grains usually take 1-3 days to sprout. The methods are the same as previously mentioned. Soak about 2/3 of a cup of grain in 2-3 times the amount of cool water. Then rinse and drain 2-3 times a day until they are done. Grains are generally sweet and taste good for breakfast.
One thing to remember about grains is that they are very starchy. You need to rinse, rinse, rinse and rinse. Make sure the water is clear. This takes longer that with leafy greens or beans, but it is well worth the effort.
Can I Sprout Nuts?
Nuts are not actually sprouted, but are considered "soaks". Eat them when the narrow part bulges, but no actual root appears. I use my hemp bag for nuts. I soak almonds for about 8 hours. Drain and rinse once and start eating them. Sunflower and Pumpkin I soak for an hour, drain and rinse and eat. Nuts are very quick and easy and taste more vibrant after soaking. They are still crunchy, just not so hard.
How Long to Store Sprouts
Beans and leafy sprouts will keep for a few weeks in the refrigerator. Grains and nuts begin to taste bitter after 3-4 days. I cannot say exactly how long, because they are always gone from mine in about 2 days. You, your family and your friends will love sprouts, so start sprouting and live healthy!
A Note About Seeds
You can buy beans at the store to sprout. Stores such as Sprouts and Trader Joe's will carry organic seeds, beans and nuts to sprout. Or you can go on-line for your seeds. I used the link below and I was very satisfied.
The Most Comprehensive Sprout Site Ever!
- The Coolest Sprouting Site on our Planet!
Grow your own sprouts. 80 varieties of organic sprouting seeds and sprout supplies. Sprouts,sprouts,sprouts! The wildest sprouts on this planet. Eat more sprouts!
Will You Sprout?
Do you think you will start sprouting now?
Wonderful Sprout Salad Recipe!
© 2009 Kari Poulsen