Sprouting For Flavor and Nutrition
I just finished a hub about finding seed at a grocery store to grow plants. I purchased extra seed. I’m using the extra Fenugreek seed for today’s project. That is one of the kooky aspects of having a regular blog. It is possible to use the props from one project for another in a new way. A series of photos will be posted every day at the end of this hub until I eat them.
Sprouting is an easy activity. This is not something that requires a high school diploma. Even Jethro could sprout seeds. I think we can summarize the process in just a few sentences. We might as well get this out of the way first so we can devote quality time to more important considerations. I’m using an empty spaghetti sauce jar. I add only a couple of soup spoon seeds. I start small with new sprouts. Using cool tap water, fill and drain the water from the seeds a few times. Cover with a protective material that breathes. Repeat the washing and draining process at least twice but preferably many times more each day until seeds have sprouted. I know when they are ready because I will have washed most of the empty shells away and the sprouts are beginning to turn green.
That’s it. Now that you see just how easy it is to make your own sprouts there isn’t any reason to buy them. This leaves plenty of time to get down to business. What types of seed can you use? This is always the first question anyone thinks to ask. Just about every edible seed makes a good sprout. I grew up on alfalfa sprouts. One of my favorite sandwiches is called the Avocado, Swiss and Sprouts. I forget which restaurant sold this or if they are still in business. It is a simple sandwich. There are variations where onions, tomatoes and sometimes a mayonnaise based herb spread supplement the big three.
Who can forget bean sprouts? Normally these are sprouted mung beans. I have heard there is a trend to sprout lentils. Radish sprouts give a zesty punch to salads. There are some seeds that will not work like rhubarb, tomato and potato. If you are unfamiliar with a seed a thorough investigation is required. I did just this with the Fenugreek. I had not known these made good sprouts. My research last week convinced me to try them. I found a great website at http://www.tarladalal.com/recipes-using-sprouted-fenugreek-seeds-1121 Fenugreek sprouts are called Methi in 8 recipes on Tarla Dalal’s page. I look forward to seeing how they taste.
A concern everyone has is using tap water. Some people object to the chlorine based sterilizing chemicals. My experience is to welcome these chemicals. The emerging seedling will absorb only as much chlorine as it needs for its metabolism. This will be a minute amount. I always use distilled water for rinsing the day before I eat the sprouts. This removes what little chlorine is left. I am sort of “flushing” them out. Hydroponic gardeners discovered that running clean pure water through their systems just a short time prior to harvesting produced cleaner tasting vegetables.
It is bacteria I have to worry about. Using tap water gives me just a smidge of protection. The multiple rinsing of water every day is more for sanitary reasons than to keep the seeds moist. Rinsing and more rinsing and yet another rinsing before I go to bed is REALLY necessary. You know this works if you think about clear fast running water (whether Brad Pitt is in the stream or not). The mental image is of clean, fresh, pure, safe drinking water. It is true. Bacteria colonization is minimized through rapid oxygenated water. Keeping the bacteria concentration to an absolute minimum should be the focus. Sprouting seeds are full of sugars, vitamins, nutrition and minerals. A great deal of life is interested in these for food.
The string tied in a bow to hold the old dishcloth on top of the jar was a photo op. In reality the string was stored away with the first rinsing. I only drape the cloth over the top. There are some that keep the tie in place so that when they drain the water off it keeps the seeds in the jar. I don’t do this. I don’t want the damp cloth to harbor bacteria. What little bit of organic compounds are strained out will cling to the material supporting infection. There are small jars that come with fitted screened lids. These are better. Just be sure to use a mesh lid made out of nylon or some other plastic. I would avoid any made out of metal.
Keeping your container out of the sun is a good idea as well. Most seed don’t require light to germinate. Again be concerned about bacteria. The warm sun heats the moist seed. This high humidity promotes spoilage. A spot out of the sun in a cool location is best. This is not a big problem in the winter. During the summer a warm dark location should elicit closer monitoring.
I’m sure you can see that I spent a lot of time being concerned about sterility. Seeds and grains are storehouses of minerals and vitamins. Germination produces enzymes and especially B vitamins. All of these are in easily digestible forms. The stored carbohydrates are turned into simpler sugars and lysine (an amino acid). Some have increased minerals like zinc. Studies have shown that fiber content increases. Many tote the anti-oxidants. There are innumerable other benefits for adding fresh sprouts to your diet.
Sprouting is an ancient practice. The most common is in the production of beer. Barley and other grains are sprouted to the stage of maximum sugar content before being introduced to yeast. Don’t forget trying grains in your sprouting experience. Try sprouting some organic oat groats. Or perhaps you will want to try sprouting some brown rice. For me I am going to finish sprouting my Fenugreek. I am still trying to narrow down the recipe I want to try from Tarla Dalal’s recipes in the link above. I like the idea of mixing fruit with the Fenugreek. Life is too short to not try something new whenever I can.