Compared to growing your own vegetables outdoors, sprouting is practically effortless. You can grow them indoors all year round, especially if you have heated rooms, a warm kitchen or sunny windowsill. What you get is: concentrated nutrition; the most vibrant and freshest items to eat; plus the fun of watching seeds germinate, day by day – and not a little wonderment at the astonishing lifeforce they contain. Their living energy transfers to you when you eat them.
When I write seeds, I also mean viable pulses and grains. This post is to encourage you to get started, rather than be comprehensive. Sprouts are high in a range of minerals and trace elements that are required for many functions of the body such as healing, detoxifying and the synthesis of proteins. If you’d like more information, there are a few links for further reference at the end. You can also view my 10 day grain-watch on bliphoto (Feb. 2012) to see wheatgrass grown.
- a container. This can be a wide-mouth jam jar, or a seed tray, or you can buy any number of economical trays/racks/bags designed specifically for sprouting. The important thing is drainage since you will be rinsing the seeds twice daily and the water needs to escape freely or the seeds will simply produce mould and rot. Household jars will need a temporary fine mesh top (I quite often use a flour sieve), trays will need to be perforated and lined with muslin or similar to keep the seeds from falling through.
- fresh water. If you can filter this, all the better because the seeds will soak it up (tap water will work). The hydroponic method is successful for most seeds, and the cleanest. Soil is an optional growing medium, although wheatgrass, sunflower and snowpeas do get relatively tall and the soil helps anchor them.
- seeds. Source organic quality as they are more likely to grow! Viable seeds are whole and fresh – anything already split won’t work. Avoid old, chemically or heat processed stock.
There are just three stages:
- the initial soak. The time will vary from seed to seed, and there is plenty of advice about this: I generally go for the less scientific but simple overnight approach
- rinse and drain. Enzyme inhibitors and phytic acid need to be washed away, but gently does it: the seed has softened somewhat
- growth period. Water & rinse your seeds twice daily. Let them drain in-between. Shoots will soon appear, skins or hulls begin to break away. Three or four days is usually enough for most seeds, although the variables of temperature and sunlight may affect this. Sturdier sprouts like sunflower or wheatgrass do take longer. Follow instructions on packets or sprouting charts
Harvest when ready – straight onto your plate. You may wish to rinse off the loose skins or hulls, if present, for aesthetics. Sprouts will keep in the fridge for about 5-7 days with occasional rinsing.
Sprouts to try first:
- easiest & surest: chick peas, mung beans, aduki beans, whole lentils, oat grouts
- more temperamental: delicate quinoa, alfalfa, broccoli, radish and fenugreek
- robust shoots: snowpeas, sunflower, wheatgrass – I find these do better in soil but water works, too.
A small introductory book by Edward Cairney ‘The sprouters handbook’
Tanya Alexseeva’s blog post on sprouting
Pauline Lloyd’s article ‘Sprouts: superfood of the 21st century’