S is for Sprouts

13 Jun 2012

Posted by karen
karen's picture

Sprouts. What mental picture do you see? If it's the plastic box of (often sorry-soggy-looking) alfalfa sprouts sitting in the produce department of your local supermarket, I encourage you to explore the big "live food" world of sprouts.

Sprouted Seed FAQS

-  what makes them "live" is that their enzyme content is greater than in their original state

-  the sprouting process helps to predigest the seeds' nutrients. How? Starch is converted to simple sugars, protein is turned into amino acids and peptones, and crude fat is broken down into free fatty acids. Which means? Nutrients are more easily available and accessible for the body to use.

- germination (sprouting) increases: the B vitamins, vitamin E, vitamin K (triples!) and carotene

- sprouts are high in chlorophyll, boosting the body with oxygen and increased blood flow

Sprouting seeds yourself is definitely cheaper than purchasing them but I can't resist buying most of mine from Cindy, a farmer's market vendor who is as wonderfully organic as all her fine produce. I'm lucky if there's any of these pea shoots left in the bag by the time I get home.
I use a simple method of sprouting for my infrequent spurts of sprouting: using a quart jar that came with three plastic lids with different hole sizes. 
- use a large, very clean mason jar and place about 1 Tbsp. seeds in it. Then place over the top of the jar some clean netting (e.g. cheese cloth) and secure with an elastic band (or use lids with small holes if you can find them).
- add water, rinse and drain
- add 1 cup cool water and soak for 2-6 hours
- drain, refill jar with cool water and drain again.
- invert jar and prop at an angle in a bowl or dish
(here's two jars at different stages)
- make sure you rinse them every morning and evening and prop jar back in bowl
- enjoy in 3-6 days, store in refrigerator
- if possible use organic sprouting seeds: instructions should be on the package - follow carefully as they may vary for different seeds
I found a recipe sprout salad recipe that called for mung bean sprouts, which, alas, were all gone by the time I got to the market! However, Cindy suggested I do my own sprouts using lentils, which are easier to sprout than mung beans.
She was so right - and I loved the taste of them. 
Lentils are significantly bigger seeds than many other sprouting seeds, so I've included instructions. Allow about 72 hours from start to finish: they can become bitter if they're left to sprout too long.
- sort, wash and rinse 4 Tbsp. lentils, which will produce about 1 1/2 cups
- put lentils in a 1-quart size jar with sprout-strainer lid
- cover with 3-4 inches water and let soak overnight or 8-12 hours.
- drain, rinse and drain again - divide lentils into two jars to allow them space to sprout without being too close together
- every morning and evening rinse and drain lentils and set the jars on an angle - after about 72 hours they will be soft and have little white tails!

Lentil Sprout and Almond Salad

3/4 cup plain yogurt (thick well-drained yogurt is best, e.g. Greek-style)
1/4 tsp. sea salt, plus more to taste
1 handful arugula, chopped
1/2 - 3/4 cup chives, minced
1 1/2 cups lentil sprouts
2/3 cup well-toasted, sliced almonds
1 ripe avocado, chopped
good extra virgin olive oil
In a small bowl combine the yogurt, salt, arugula, and chives. 
In a larger bowl toss the lentil sprouts and almonds with a splash of olive oil and a pinch of salt. Add the avocado, and gently toss once or twice more.
Serve the spouts and almonds next to the yogurt mixture and drizzle with a bit more olive oil. If you had a few chive flowers in your bunch, sprinkle them across the top.
Serves 2-4 as a very pretty, nutrient-dense side dish.


Jennifer Sanders (kidoing!)'s picture

What beautiful pictures! I thoroughly loved this post because I'm all about sprouting now.  I am focusing on rice and legumes these days, but have used a sprout mix in the past.  I thought of you last week when I went to a talk at our city's library with Sandor Katz on fermentation!

Renee's picture

Too funny Jennifer to see you here. I'm just reading this over for including a link in my e-book. Which I am going to be e-mailing you about this morning!

karen's picture

Sandor is so passionate and knowledgable about fermentation - it must have been a most interesting presentation. I'm a wee bit jealous! Thanks for visiting and sharing.

desilou's picture

Your posts are so timely for my family and I. I've just recently been hearing how fantastic sprouts are, health-wise, and was hesitantly considering trying to grow some sprouts at home. It seemed a bit daunting, as I was imaging a small, swampy mess needing to be out on my kitchen counter for a week. You've got a gift more explaining ideas and tasks and making them accesible even to health food novices such as myself :)  Thank you for sharing this post!

karen's picture

Thanks for stopping by my sprouting "scene". I wish you sprouting success to boost your courage - and your healthy enzyme consumption!

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Kika's picture

I LOVE sprouts but can only buy yummy ones in the closest city so don't eat them as much as I'd like. I once tried sprouting but it felt like too much work at that time :)

Paul Martinez 's picture

I cut up a melon in 2" cubes it sat in the juice covered in the refrigerator for @10:30am 2 weeks. I did not add anything to it will it ferment?

karen's picture

I haven't tried fermenting fruit - let me know what happens.

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Kika's picture

Karen, you said to make sure we use sprouting seeds? I though I could use any bean, lentil or even quinoa to sprout with?! I'm ready to try sprouting again - so thanks for your help:)

karen's picture

My recommendation is for organic sprouting seed. According to Cindy, the resource I mentioned in my blog, though any seed can be sprouted, you will get better results with seed that was germination tested. As well, many garden seeds are treated with fungicides, unsafe for human consumption at such an early stage of growth. She purchases all her sprouting seeds, and seeds for shoots, from Mumm's seeds for sprouting. (I have used their seeds too.) Their seed is certified organic, clean, germination tested, and new. Old seed has often lost some viability. Cindy did say that seed not treated with fungicides is at least safe to use it, whether it produces good results or not.

From my experience with sprouting larger seeds, e.g. lentils and beans, l have used some non-organic seeds. These larger seeds typically have shorter tag sprouts on them as compared to the longer shoots on the smaller seeds. Hope this helps you.

Kika's picture

Ok, thanks, Karen. I bought supplies from sproutpeople.org but will look into Mumm's for next time.

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