Usually when we think of sprouts, we think of the generic alfalfa sprouts that we pick up at the grocery store. But there are so many other different types of sprouts out there including adzuki, buckwheat, fenugreek, garlic, garbanzo, and rye just to name a few. Different sprouts also have different flavor profiles—brown mustard, onion, radish, and clover sprouts for example are spicy, wheat, and spelt is sweet, and hulled sunflower sprouts are nutty. This wide variation of flavors allows the possibilities in the kitchen to be endless with sprouts! Sprouts can be juiced, added it onto salads, sandwiches, and wraps, as a topping on soups, blended into smoothies and shakes, used as a garnish or as a side dish, or even eaten plain. It is recommended though that you do not cook or sprouts or eat them raw, as not to destroy their valuable enzymes and nutrients.
Don’t let their small size fool you. Sprouts are jam packed with enzymes, antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, amino acids, protein, chlorophyll, and fiber amongst other things. They can grow from the seeds of vegetables, grains, legumes, buckwheat, and beans. Specific sprouts also have different types of health benefits. Broccoli sprouts, for example, were found by scientists at the John Hopkins School of medicine to have exceptionally high amounts of a natural cancer fighting compound called sulforaphane. Sunflower sprouts, on the other hand, contain all eight essential amino acids, are high in Lecithin, protein, and vitamin D. Sunflower sprouts also contain a high level of Omega 6 fatty acid. Chia seeds or chia sprouts are a superfood in themselves containing high levels of Omega 3, antioxidants, fiber, magnesium, vitamin C, calcium, iron, and folate.
How to Sprout
Sprouting sprouts is very simple. You will need seeds, water, and a sprouter. No soil is required! Sprouting is also extremely cheap; it costs only pennies per cup of sprouted sprouts!
The seeds you buy must be labeled for sprouting and are preferably organic. You can mix seeds with similar growing times or from the same family, but this is not recommended for beginners. Sprouts that are perfect for beginners include alfalfa, green pea, wheat, radish, kamut, fenugreek, lentil, rye, spelt, and clover.
One of the common methods of sprouting is using a jar. You can buy a jar made for sprouting or use your own jar. The only difference between a store bought sprouter and your own jar is the lid. To make your own lid, simply get a fine mesh screen and secure it to the top of the jar with a few rubber bands.
For a jar sprouter, you will generally need 1–2 tablespoons of seeds. Soak the seeds overnight for about 8–10 hours until soft. Then rinse the seeds twice a day until they are ready. To rinse, simply add medium pressure cold water through your jar screen until the seeds are submerged, swish the water around, and then poor the water out. Repeat the process 2–3 times. You can rinse the sprouts an additional time during hot weather. It is best if the hulls, shells, from the sprouts are removed as hulls are enzymes inhibitors. Hulls will automatically fall off once the sprout starts sprouting. The easiest way to separate the hulls from the sprouts is to fill the jar up with water and remove all the loose hulls that float to the top. The hulls that are stubbornly stuck on to the sprout can be removed during rinsing with firm water pressure and swishing.
Different sprouts are ready at different times but, in general, harvest them 3–8 days after you start sprouting to maximize their nutrition. Healthy sprout tips or tails are paper white. If the tail is dried or shriveled, it means they dried out. Eat them as soon as possible.
To harvest, remove the seeds from the jar, simply open the lid, and tilt all the sprouts out. Put your leftover sprouts in the fridge in an air tight zip-lock bag or a container lined with damp paper towel. Rinse your sprouts every three days to maintain moisture if you cannot finish them all right away.
Now that you have learned how nutritious, delicious, and easy it is to grow sprouts go and try it for yourself. You will be amazed by how fun and easy it is. Check out this Web site, SproutingSprouts.com, or more tips and tricks on how to sprout! Good luck!