Spring is officially here. As we see the beautiful trees and flowers budding all around us, I have a strong urge to get some “living” food into my body. And what a better way than with sprouts! In the spring season, seeds flaunt their vitality and energy by sprouting. What exactly are sprouts? Just your everyday seeds, beans or grains taken to the next level in terms of nutrition by soaking, rinsing and allowing a few days to germinate before eating. While you can find many sprout varieties now at most health food stores, growing them yourself is easy and less expensive.
You can sprout any seed, bean, or grain but some are easier for beginners than others. Some simple sprouting choices are alfalfa, mustard, radish, clover, legumes like lentils, mung beans, garbanzos and green peas. My first sprouting experience was a few years ago with my all-time favorite grain quinoa and it worked fabulously.
• Wide-mouthed mason jar sized from 1 quart to 1 gallon depending on the amount of seeds.
• Cheesecloth to cover the jar.
• Rubber band, or you can use the outer piece of the top to the mason jar to screw over the cloth.
• Dish rack or flat, shallow containers for the jar to drain into.
Make room in an empty cabinet or on your counter where there is no direct sunlight or heat. Sprouts, like seeds, prefer a dark temperate location, usually 65 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit. Place seeds in a mesh strainer and rinse in warm water, then drain.
Pour into your mason jar. Fill ¾ with water, cover with your cheesecloth and rubber band and let them soak overnight (if prepared in the evening) or for the following times:
• Small seeds: 3-8 hours
• Larger seeds or legumes: 8-10 hours
• Grains: 10-16 hours
After soaking for hours above, drain the water and rinse the seeds thoroughly. The soaking water contains natural toxins released from the seeds during germination, so a 2-3x daily rinse is recommended. After each rinse, place the jar upside down and tilted at a 45 degree angle in the warm, dark germination spot you’ve selected. The goal is to keep them damp but not drenched until they sprout. When the jar is full of sprouts, you’ll be ready to add them to salads, stir-frys, wraps, and much more! Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for use.
Comment below if you’d like to know more about specific times it takes seeds, grains, and legumes to finish the sprouting process, plus different ways to get them into your everyday diet!
Sprouts of all varieties contain the building blocks of life in the form of vitamins, enzymes, amino acids and simple sugars. In their early growth state, sprouts are very easy to digest, allowing our bodies to access many wonderful nutrients. Sprouts contain anti-cancer properties, high levels of active antioxidants, concentrated amounts of phytochemicals, vitamins A, C, and D and much more!
Institute for Integrative Nutrition, April 2011.