From restaurants to organic food advocates, everyone’s talking about sprouts. You might have seen them on the menu at your local locavore eatery or even heard about them from friends. But if you haven’t tried sprouts yet, prepare yourself for a real treat! They’re delicious, nutritious, and easy to get.
What are sprouts?
Sprouts are baby plants. When a seed, bean, or nut begins to grow, it develops a tiny green tendril that would eventually become the stalk of a full-grown plant – unless, of course, you eat it first. That seed and tiny stalk is a sprout.
Many seeds make good sprouts, but mung beans, barley, wheat, lentils, and even lima beans are all popular choices.
How to eat sprouts?
It’s simple – enjoy them safely all year-round in juices, smoothies, sandwiches, salads, soups and other dishes.
What are the health benefits of eating sprouts?
Sprouts are a living superfood! When a plant germinates, its vitamin content can increase twentyfold, making sprouts a good source of vitamins A, E, B, and C. The seeds’ proteins also change remarkably. Sprouts also tend to be very full of enzymes, which are specialized proteins that your body needs for all of its critical processes. The more of those you have, the better you’ll feel!
You may also experience the digestive benefits of eating sprouts if you eat them regularly. Part of sprouting involves breaking down the seed for the plant’s easy access to its stored nutrients. If it’s easier for the plant to access, then it’s easier for you, too! Sprouts are much easier to metabolize than their unsprouted versions, and you’ll absorb more nutrients from them. People with gastrointestinal issues claim that sprouts calm their stomachs and prevent them from getting sick.
Are homegrown sprouts safe for your health?
Though there’s no question that they’re nutritious, eating sprouts can present a few hazards as well. The warm, humid conditions under which sprouts germinate are also perfect for growing bacteria, which can cause food poisoning. Cooking eliminates the problem, but many sprouts are served raw or lightly cooked. No matter if your sprouts come from a farmers’ market or a restaurant, there’s always a risk involved with eating them raw. For most people, though, the benefits of eating sprouts outweigh the possible detriments.
If you’re sprouting at home, there are a few things you can do to make sure that your crop is as safe as possible for you and your family. Always buy your seeds from certified suppliers and wash them very well! The same goes for the box, the jar or the bag you use to sprout the seeds. When your seeds do sprout, only use the crop if it smells clean and fresh, and doesn’t look or feel slimy. Remember, if you’re not sure about the quality of your harvest, compost it. You can always grow another batch! Always rinse sprouts thoroughly before you use them.
Also, though sprouts are delicious and nutritious raw, consider using them as a cooking ingredient, especially if you have high-risk individuals, like children or pregnant women, eating your food. Sprouts are a great “something special” to add to stews and stir-fries. Baked sprouts are crispy and make for a great snack.
Sprouting at home is an excellent option for locavores on a budget. Seeds are fairly inexpensive and readily available. You can start for example with the Alfalfa sprouting seeds by Now Foods. Detailed instructions how to grow alfalfa sprouts are available on sproutpeople.com
For the purpose you’ll also need a good sprouter. The absolute best seller at Amazon which is pretty cheap is the Victorio VKP1014 4-tray kitchen seed sprouter. You can sprout 4 different seeds at once.
If you plan to invest in an automatic sprouter, the EasyGreen Micro Farm would be your best choice.
There are also other ways to grow sprouts at home. Here’s a detailed guide on how to sprout seeds in a jar.
If you want to learn how to grow seeds in a bag, the video below would be of great help.
To try the method described in the video above, besides the seeds, you’ll need an organic sprout bag like this one.
Soaking and Sprouting chart
How to store sprouts?
You can store your sprouts in a Peak Fresh Bag in the refrigerator for a couple of days. Just make sure to rinse and dry them well before that.
Tip: Put a few slices of lemon in the bag. This will help your sprouts to stay fresh for longer.