By Joe Klinkhoff – Co-op Member Owner, Volunteer Extraordinaire, Chef, and Instructor

We can take advantage of the nutritional power of seeds before they turn into seedlings by consuming sprouts.  Imagine a broccoli plant.  Now imagine all the anti-oxidants are in the tiny seedling instead of spreading through the whole head of broccoli.  We can add an entire HANDFUL of these powerhouses to a salad or sandwich.

Sprouts contain a significant amount of protein, dietary fiber, and vitamins K, folate, pantothenic acid, niacin, thiamin, vitamin C, vitamin A, and riboflavin. In terms of minerals, sprouts contain manganese, copper, zinc, magnesium, iron, and calcium. They are also full of enzymes perfectly suited to help you digest the sprouts, making all the nutrients bioavailable. Sprouts are considered alkalizing to the body!

Here’s a crash-course guide to growing your own sprouts!

We can sprout seeds, grains, legumes, and beans. The basic process is the same for all sprouts. We soak the beans so they absorb and swell with water this ACTIVATES the seed’s factory. We then drain the seeds really well and rinse them. We continue to rinse and drain until the sprouts reach the stage we want. Most grains are “just sprouted” being ready when their tails stick out (rice as well). Then we “green” them up if desired. Finally we rinse out the hulls and dry our sporuts well for storage as we eat them.

Make sure your sprouts are dry. Typically give them a few hours after the de-hulling rinse to dry really well. If they are larger sprouts and you have a salad spinner… by all means use it.

Sprouting Equipment:

  • Sprouting Cap: This simple device fits over a canning jar and has a screen across the top for easy rinsing and draining your sprouts. Suitable for all beans, lentils, larger seeds. Alternately buy some “screening patch” at the home depot. Cut a square big enough to cover the jar mouth and tighten a ring down over it VOILA.
  • Sprouting Trays: These usually come in sets. They are a little fiddley, but great for the smaller seeds like alfalfa and broccoli. Rinsing and draining need to be watched as they do not drain as easily as the sprout jars.
  • Easy Sprouter: This 16-ounce plastic cup with a built-in strainer and straining lid is a quick and easy way to get started sprouting small batches. It also has an insert for smaller seeds. It costs about $14 retail.
  • Seeds for Sprouting: Google is your friend, here –  tons of suppliers. I have ordered from a few of them, and they are all about the same. Some have better selections than others. Most health food stores will stock both the Easy Sprouter and usually broccoli and alfalfa seeds for sprouting. My favorites below:
    www.sproutpeople.org
    www.handypantry.com

The Process:

  1. Soak the seed/bean for at least 24 hours. Use plenty of fresh, clean water.
  2. Drain the seeds and rinse really well.
  3. Rinse again.
  4. Did I mention the rinsing…we want to be sure its all clean fresh water around our seeds to avoid possible problems. They will quickly sprout into a large mass.
  5. Allow to rest 24 hours.
  6. Repeat steps 2-5 for 2 to three days.

The Basics of Sprouting:

Seed Storage: Keeping your dormant seeds happy.
Soaking: Turning a dormant seed into a nutritional powerhouse.
Rinsing: Water is the key ingredient in sprouts. Use it liberally.
Draining: It is essential that sprouts be drained thoroughly after rinsing. Sitting in a puddle is the most common cause of crop failure.
Air Circulation: If your sprouts can’t breathe while growing – they can die. Don’t put them in a closed cabinet.
Greening: Photosynthesis is cool, and so is Chlorophyll, but not all sprouts are into it, nor is it necessary. Sprouts of all colors are packed with flavor and nutrition!
Cleanliness: Your seed should be clean and your sprouting device should be sterile. Wash your sprouter well between crops. Sterilize when necessary.
Storage: Properly stored, fresh sprouts will keep for up to 6 weeks in your refrigerator but fresher is better. Never refrigerate wet sprouts.

Eat More Sprouts! Grow More Often!

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