SPROUTS: A HOW TO
Tiny, crunchy nutritious greens that you can grow at home!
Sprouts are wonderful things — delicate, crisp and crunchy. They give life to salads, stir fries, sandwiches and more. When you make sprouts you germinate edible seeds which creates a tiny, nutritious vegetable. Making sprouts consists of a few basic steps. 1. First you soak the seeds for a set period of time (this varies by seed). 2. Next you drain the seeds and allow them to rest in a clean glass jar. 3. Then you alternate rinsing the seeds with water and allowing them to rest and dry for a period of days. Before you know it you have a small crop of delicious sprouts! Making sprouts at home is easy and we’ve put together this guide to make it even easier!
Always use fresh clean water. Filtered or spring water is best. Remember that you’ll be eating your sprouts, so whatever water you put in them you’ll also be putting in you. Organic is best (who wants pesticides in their sprouts anyways?). Make sure to only buy food grade, viable seeds meant for sprouting. These are easy to find online or at your local natural foods store. Cleanliness is key. Make sure that any utensils you use, including the glass jar you sprout in, are clean (if not sanitized) for food safety. If your dishwasher has a sanitize setting this is usually enough. You can find special sprouting lids that fit onto wide mouth mason jars (pictured right). They come with different sized mesh making them ideal for different sized sprouts. A set of three or four lids with a variety of mesh sizes on top will let you sprout just about anything! If you don’t have sprouting lids you can use a strainer or cheesecloth, but sprouting lids are really the best tool for draining your sprouts. Rinsing sprouts with a sprouting lid is easy. Simply pour some water in the jar, gently swirl the water and seeds, and then drain the water out. For the most part sprouting is done away from sunlight, but you can get your sprouts a little greener once they’re mature by placing them in sunlight for a half day. This could make some sprouts more bitter. Have fun and experiment! Sprouts are best consumed right away and store well in the refrigerator for only a few days.
The Basics of Sprouting
If you start your soaking just before bed it helps with timing. You can simply drain your sprouts the next morning, and then proceed to rinse them once before breakfast and once before dinner. This approach makes it easy to remember to rinse the sprouts at the right time. In between rinsing it’s best to invert the jar and place it in a bowl lined with a paper towel. This allows for excess water to drain out and promotes air circulation over the seeds. Sprout seeds at room temperature, unless the sprouting directions call for a different method. There are many different seeds you can sprout so it’s always best to read the package directions. We’ve included some of the most common sprouts (and how to sprout them!) below.
Lentils are a legume just like beans, and that means they’re a good source of protein and dietary fiber. Their texture is much firmer than other sprouts. Eating these sprouts is similar to eating a cooked lentil with a fresh green sprout attached to it. To sprout lentils: Rinse a ½ cup of lentils in strainer under running water (pick out any debris or stones). Place the lentils in a large glass mason jar and cover them with 2 cups of water. Soak the lentils for approximately 8 hours. After soaking, drain and rinse the lentils. Rinse the lentils twice a day until they’ve grown to the size you want. Once you see the “tail” of the sprout you can try a few and see if you want to grow them longer. If lentil sprouts grow too long though they can be tough and chewy. Usually 3-5 days is best!
Brassicas (broccoli, mustard and alfalfa)
The Brassica genus is a group that includes a wide number of plants. Radishes, broccoli, mustard and alfalfa are all brassicas. As sprouts they generally share a spicy flavor that is similar to a radish. These sprouts contain a compound called sulforaphane. This unique compound has been shown to have a number of benefits for people, and can support both brain and heart health. To sprout brassica seeds: Rinse 2 tablespoons of seeds in a strainer under running water. Place the seeds in a quart jar and add ½ cup water to cover them. Soak the seeds approximately 8 hours and then drain the water off. Rinse and drain the seeds every 8 hours. After 3-6 days you’ll have a gorgeous jar full of tasty sprouts! Special note: broccoli sprouts get a fuzzy taproot that could be mistaken for mold. When in doubt smell your sprouts and look closely with a magnifying glass.
Mung beans are a legume that are popular in Asian cuisine. In America, the sprouts they produce make regular appearances in dishes like fried rice and lo mein. Of all the sprouts that Americans eat, mung bean is probably the most common. They are large and juicy for a sprout, with a crisp crunchy texture that’s similar to water chestnuts. To sprout mung beans: Rinse 4 tablespoons of seeds in a strainer under running water, and place them into a large mason jar. Cover the seeds with 2 cups of water and soak them for 8 hours. Rinse the seeds 2-4 times a day. Rinsing once in the morning, once after work and once before bed is a good strategy.
Other Types of Sprouts
There are lots of options for sprouts including kamut (wheat), fenugreek, cilantro and more. Large, hearty sprouts like mung bean may stand up to light cooking, but most sprouts are best raw. With strongly flavored sprouts like fenugreek and cilantro you can even use them like you would herbs! Variety is the spice of life and there’s no shortage of sprouts to try out! Above, we have cilantro, basil and nasturtium sprouts that we provide as microgreens to local chefs. Look out on your plates for delicious & nutritious sprouts!