Tuesday, February 10, 2009
Hey, Is That a Sprout?
We love sprouts. They are super nutritious, nutrient packed powerhouses. We eat them on salads, raw, stir fried and in breads. They are versatile and super easy to grow. All you have to do is provide optimal conditions and let the seeds do what they are designed to do. You can go super high tech or as low tech as sprouting out of a glass jar, which is what we often do.
First buy seeds. Please, buy organic seeds. You will be eating this seed and you want it to be organic. Most health food stores will carry seed and sprouters. One of our favorite online places to order seed is from Sprout People, they carry a large assortment of seeds and seed mixes.
Next, get a place to sprout your seeds. You can take a glass jar and cover it with a couple of layers of cheesecloth and secure it with a rubber band. Or you can buy a sprouter. There are a wide variety of sprouters but basically they are just some kind of container that has small drainage holes. We've tried an assortment of sprouters and they basically work about equally well. We've not tried the hemp bags for sprouting but they look interesting.
We soak our seeds overnight. I'm not sure this is necessary but it seems to work well for us. The next morning we drain the seeds well. Rinse. Drain. We repeat this as we remember, at least a couple of times a day. In the summer, you will probably want to do it an additional time or two during the day. It is important that you don't let your seeds dry out. It is also important that you don't let your seeds sit in water or they will mold and shouldn't be eaten. Seeds should get good air circulation but remain in a place where they are not directly in sunlight, we have ours on our kitchen counter. Once they have shed their hulls, or about the fourth day it is time to uncover the sprouts and let them get some sunlight, so they can produce chlorophyl. This will give them their nice green color and the nutrients that go along with it.
It depends on the type of seed, how long it takes it to sprout. The small seeds, such as alfalfa, broccoli and micro green seeds will be ready to eat in about 5 days. Bean seeds are most often eaten just a few days after they are started. The general rule is about the time the root is the length of the seed. Often for beans this is in 2-4 days. Grain sprouts are super easy, they only take about 24 hours, then they are wonderful cooked in your favorite bread or used as a breakfast cereal.
Sprouts should be eaten within a couple of days of being ready. Put in the refridgerator to keep them fresh longer.
Some seeds should not be sprouted and eaten because they contain a toxin and some sprouts need to be cooked before consunption. But as long as you get your seeds from a health food store or a reputable online seed store you should be okay. They will most likely come with instructions about the best sprouting method for those seeds and how long until they are ready to eat.
Some of our favorite seeds to sprout are alfalfa, broccoli, radish, mung bean and some of the absolutely wonderful mixes that the sprout people have put together.
Give sprouting seeds a try, it's easy, delicious and nutritious.