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Create food in your kitchen, even in the middle of winter, by learning how to grow your own sprouts!
Why Growing Sprouts Makes Sense
Sprouting is a low-cost, healthy habit that can add homegrown greens to your meals with just a small time commitment every day. It’s almost idiot-proof in its simplicity, and the materials you need can be picked up for only a small investment.
Add to that the fact that you will have your own supply ready to grab from your kitchen beacnh, or wherever you choose to grow them, and it’s a no-brainer, right?
Of course, there is also the matter of money. After all, anything you can grow at home saves you the cost of buying it. And, the indirect costs of having to go to the store to pick it up – time and money both.
What Kinds of Sprouts Can You Grow?
You might already have one or two in mind from reading this or searching on Google, but the range of sprouts that can be easily homegrown is actually astounding. Some of the most common seeds to sprout including such varieties as:
- red clover
- mung beans
- wheat berries
There are bound to be a lot more if you search online. All you have to do is try some of each to see which ones your family gobbles up. And, which one grows the best for you of course!
What Do You Need To Sprout?
The things you need to start sprouting at home you may already have. Yes, it’s that simple. But, just in case, I have listed them all below so you can see what I used and you will need to grab or buy to get started.
Don’t be intimidated by the list, it looks long enough, but it’s all pretty simple and often sitting on your shelf or in the cupboard.
- Quart-sized Mason jars
- Cheesecloth (or metal sprouting screen that fits inside jar lid) and rubberbands
- A drip tray
- A supply of seeds, grains, and beans to sprout
You will also need to find a dark and dry place to keep the jars once you are done. I find that the kitchen cupboard works great, but anywhere you have space to store them is perfect.
How To Start Growing Sprouts
I am going to walk you through the whole process now with Alfalfa seeds. It actually works more or less exactly the same for all seed types, so don’t worry if you don’t have alfalfa!
- Put two tablespoons of alfalfa seeds in the jar
- Fill jar halfway up with filtered or spring water
- Let them soak for eight hours (overnight)
- Cover with cheesecloth and drain the water out (see bonus tip)
- Rinse the seeds with fresh water and drain again
- Place the jar upside-down on the drip tray (leaning them at an angle lets them get air, which is important for sprouts).
Bonus Tip: The soak water is great for watering houseplants, so don’t just throw it down the drain. It has nutrients in it.
But Wait, There’s More…
Rinse the seeds at least twice a day, draining them well and putting them back over the drip tray. It’s important to rinse them with fresh water so they don’t get moldy or rot, and setting the schedule for morning and night keeps you on track (rinse the sprouts, feed the dog, take out the trash…).
When the seed leaves appear, the sprouts can be brought out of the dark cupboard and placed on the counter in indirect sunlight. Don’t put them directly in the sun, or you’ll end up with a slimy mess, as they get way too warm.
When you see the tail of the root appear, they’re edible, but for some, like alfalfa and clover, growing them to a length of about 3 or 4 inches is the norm, which takes 4 to 7 days. With alfalfa and clover, if you let them grow too long, they will take over the jar and be really hard to remove, so harvest them when there’s still some room left. Rinse well, or pour them into a bowl and swish them around to float off the seed husks (we don’t mind them, but some do).
Measurements and soaking times for sprouting seeds:
Below is a list of the soaking times I have found work for each type of seed. You will have to try them yourself to get exact times that work for you, as it really depends on your local environment. However, the following is a guide to get you started.
- Alfalfa: Soak 2 Tbs for 4 to 8 hours
- Red Clover: Soak 2 Tbs for 4 to 8 hours
- Broccoli: Soak 2 Tbs for 8 to 12 hours
- Fenugreek: Soak 1/4 cup for 4 to 8 hours
- Radish: Soak 3 Tbs for 4 to 8 hours
- Wheat and rye berries: Soak 1 cup for 8 to 12 hours (can be blended in food processor for a raw porridge)
- Whole lentils: Soak 1 cup for 8 to 12 hours (can be eaten in 8 hours, no need to grow longer)
- Raw hulled sunflower seeds: Soak 1 cup for 6 to 8 hours, then eat
- Chia: Soak 1 cup for 6 to 8 hours, then eat
- Sesame: Soak 1 cup for 6 to 8 hours, then eat
Try mixing alfalfa and clover together, or adding radish and broccoli to the mix for a zesty flavor. Top a green salad with sprouts, add them to sandwiches and lunchboxes, or sprinkle with soy sauce and eat them as is.
The joys of sprouting are many: you can grow some of your own food, you don’t have to pay the 2 to 4 bucks for a little box of sprouts at the store, and you and your family are eating highly nutritious fresh raw food that you can add to a tasty salad or wrap. That little crunch will make it pop, trust me!
Image: Ctd 2005 at Flickr under Creative Commons License