Growing (Seed) Sprouts
People have been eating grain and legume seeds for decades. A friend introduced me to sprouts a number of years ago, when I was just barely an adult. He also taught me what I know about vegetarianism, though I didn’t adopt that practice until a year ago. That knowledge was the basis for the way that I am eating now, along with many other things that I knew along the way. The best thing about sprouts, you can grow them year round, and use them as a substitute for lettuce. After many recent cases of salmonella affecting commercially grown lettuce, why take chances? After all, sprout growing requires very little room, no soil, and you know what you are getting because you grow them yourself.
Important Tips Before You Start Sprouts
The most important tip is to never use potato or tomato sprouts. They are POISONOUS. Use clean, cool water for rinsing sprouts. If you are forced to use city tap water, allow it to sit out for 24 hours, so the chemicals can dissipate. Don’t sprout garden seeds, as they have likely been treated with poisonous fungicides. Get them at the natural food store, co-ops, or seed houses that specialize in untreated seeds. Don’t put sprouts in direct sun. Lentils, beans, etc. have hulls that are digestible, but if you don’t like them, put them in a bowl of cold water, rub them gently, and the hulls will come off and float. Then just throw them away. Sprouts can be stored in the refrigerator for a week and can also be frozen for long periods. Larger seeds like lentils, beans, and peas are done when about an inch in length. Length is really a matter of preference, so sample them every day to see what you like best for smaller seeds. Sprouts can also be cooked, but are most nutritious when eaten raw.
Basic Jar Sprouts
To sprout any seed, soak in a wide mouth canning jar. It can vary from two to fourteen hours for each variety of seed. Whomever sells you your seeds will provide directions on this. Use cheesecloth or nylon net to cover the mouth of your jar(s), and hold it on with a rubber band or canning jar lid rim. Rinse seeds and drain off two to four times a day. The hotter the weather, the more you'll want to change the water to prevent mold issues. Keep jar angled and facing down to allow for proper drainage.
These are the most commonly sprouted seeds, have a soak time of 3-6 hours, and two tablespoons are used per quart jar. They will grow at temperatures between 60 and 85 degrees F with two or three rinses a day. They can be from a half to two inches at harvest(personal preference), and sprout in two to four days.
Eating Your Sprouts
Don’t cook more than five or six minutes, as too much cooking takes away nutritional value. If you’re sprouting soybeans, they are tougher, so will need to be cooked. They can be mixed in salad, added to scrambled eggs and omelets, soups, bread batters, or casseroles. Make sure that they are added at the end, about five minutes prior to serving, if it is a cooked dish. They can be used in place of celery, too. Wheat and rye sprouts can be used as a plain snack.
Cover each half of a good, whole grain bread with cream cheese. Put on sliced tomato, cucumber and sprouts. Enjoy!
Try these with salt, pepper, and a pinch of basil leaves. Cook for a half hour or so to tenderize, add butter, and serve as a side dish.