Sprouting has got to be one of the most satisfyingly easy things to do. You essentially just take a seed, grain, or bean, and induce the germination process, resulting in handfuls of 'mini plants' that are really healthy and amazingly versatile. You can grow them any time of year, just on your windowsill. They hardly take up any space, and don't need any soil, so you don't even get your hands dirty! Depending on the seed you use, they only take 3-5 days to mature, so you can be munching down your home grown creation within a week.
Health Benefits of Sprouts:
The nutrients vary depending on which seed you decide to sprout. But most sprouts are a great source of antioxidants, many vitamins and minerals, fibre, and protein. Allowing the seeds to germinate also neutralises the phytic acid, meaning the iron, zinc and calcium are more easily absorbed. So sprouts are incredibly nutrient dense. In fact, one cup of mung bean sprouts has 3.6g of protein - not bad for a quick snack with only 30 calories.
How to Eat Sprouts:
- Raw in a salad, with a simple dressing
- Give an extra nutrient boost to your smoothies
- Provide some added crunch and colour to sandwiches / wraps
- Chucked in to a stir fry for the last 30 seconds of cooking
- A nice garnish on almost any dish
What You Will Need:
- Seeds or legumes - available from most health food shops (ask staff if unsure)
- Large glass jar with lid
- Small piece of cheesecloth / breathable cloth
- Elastic band
How to Grow Sprouts:
- Soaking. Inspect the seeds and discard any broken ones. Fill a glass jar 1/4 full with the seeds, then rinse and drain. Then top jar up with water, screw on the lid, and leave seeds to soak. Refer to the table below for the soaking times of some of the most popular sprouting seeds.
- Rinsing. After soaking, drain the water, and rinse the seeds thoroughly, until the water becomes clear. Then instead of using the lid, stretch the cloth across the top and secure in place with elastic band. Turn the jar upside down at a 45 degree angle, and place in a bowl, so that excess water can drain, but air can circulate into the jar through the mesh.
- Harvesting. Using the timings in the table below, repeat the rinsing process at least twice a day until the sprouts have reached up to 2 inches tall, or until they have sprouted greens. When they're ready, rinse and drain one last time, then keep in the jar with the lid back on in the fridge for up to 2-3 days.
As with any fresh produce that is consumed raw, there is a chance of food-bourne illnesses such as E coli. or Listeria, and if present in the seeds, these bacteria grow well in warm or humid conditions. Therefore it is advised to buy high quality seeds and not to eat raw sprouts in pregnancy, infancy, or old age.