Sprouts are a Quick and Easy Way to Add Nutrients to Your Diet
Growing sprouts is a fast, easy way to add some fresh greens to your diet. They are very versatile and can be used in salads, sandwiches, stir-fries, or as garnish on soups for an added crunch. They are easy to grow and can be ready to eat in about a week.
Nutritionally, sprouts generally have a higher level of antioxidants and vitamins than their mature versions. Also, the beginning shoots of a plant are thought to stimulate human cells ability to protect themselves from diseases when consumed as they have higher phytonutrient levels to help the young plant become established. Sprouts are also said to be easier on the digestive system than their fully grown counterparts, especially for vegetables that belong to the brassica family (cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, etc). As a raw food, sprouts excel.
Sprouts can be grown using many different seeds. Typically, Alfalfa, Broccoli and Bean sprouts are readily available in grocery stores. However, sprouts are easily grown at home. You can use a tiered sprout grower specifically designed to provide the optimum environment for sprout growing or you can use mason jars with breathable cloth (I use cheesecloth) attached to the top. It is important that the sprouts have proper air flow to ensure they won’t rot or otherwise become contaminated and inedible.
First, you have to rinse the seeds to remove any contaminates. Next, soak the seeds to help “wake” them up. Seeds can be soaked for as little as 15 minutes or as long as 24 hours depending on the variety. Please read the seed packet for specific information. After that, every day rinse the seeds and drain the water between two and four times a day depending on the type of seed. Basically, you need to provide them with enough moisture to grow, but not so much that they are sitting in water. After a couple days, you’ll see the seeds beginning to germinate. Once the sprouts are about 2 or so inches long they are ready to be consumed. Usually, this will take about a week, maybe less. Once they’ve reached the height that you want them, place them in the refrigerator. This will keep them fresh and will stop the growing process.
In the photos here, you’ll see broccoli sprouts that I grew in the kitchen window. Note that in this jar there is a piece of cheesecloth at the bottom of the jar. The seed packet for these broccoli sprouts had this directive, so I tried it. Conventionally, though, most of the time the seeds are in their growing vessel on their own. One nice thing about the cheesecloth was that it kept the seeds moist, but did not allow for any standing water.