Garden fresh: How to grow nutritious sprouts at home
04/27/2022 / By Rose Lidell / Comments
Garden fresh: How to grow nutritious sprouts at home

Sprouts are a favorite among health enthusiasts because they’re packed with tons of nutrients. You can buy sprouts at the nearest health food store, but if you want to save some money, you can learn how to grow different kinds of sprouts at home using only a handful of tools.

Sprouts are considered a powerhouse among veggies. At the same time, they’re easy to grow and can be consumed within days. They also provide more vitamins and minerals than regular-sized vegetables.

What are sprouts?

As the name implies, sprouts are tiny plants grown without soil. Most of the time, nature packages seeds with enough energy to germinate and produce two small leaves before requiring sunlight and soil.

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You can encourage this transformation (sprouting) in your own home with some water. After several days, you can consume tasty sprouts. The leaves, stems and roots of sprouts are a tasty addition to dips, salads, sandwiches, spreads and stir fries.

You can also try to use sprouts in other dishes like bean nut mix, coleslaw, crunchy rice salad, potato salad, quesadillas or sprouted hummus spread.

If you’re a home gardening newbie, you can start growing sprouts instead of mature veggies so you don’t get overwhelmed. You don’t need a full-sized garden for sprouts, just a Mason jar and some patience.

You can also grow sprouts if you live in a small apartment and want to start indoor gardening. Sprouts are very affordable and delicious, and you can add them to your food supply with just several minutes of rinsing per day.

Health benefits of sprouts

According to research, sprouts have many amazing health benefits. Some sprout varieties even contain cancer-fighting agents that can help protect you from breast and colon cancer.

Many studies have linked broccoli sprouts to a lower risk of stroke, high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease. Broccoli sprouts can also help with allergies, asthma and rheumatoid arthritis.

In one study, researchers discovered that broccoli sprouts contain up to 100 times more cancer-fighting compounds than mature broccoli heads.

Things you’ll need to grow sprouts at home

If you’re interested in growing sprouts, here are some tips to help you get started.

You don’t need expensive, complicated equipment to grow sprouts. Both online and specialty shops offer a variety of sprouting equipment, with designs ranging from simple containers with built-in sieves to multi-tiered setups for sprouting several varieties at once.

You can also use multi-tiered setups to stagger sprouts of one kind.

If you’re new to sprouting, start with a simple setup. The simplest sprouting method only requires a glass jar with a cheesecloth secured by a rubber band over the opening.

Alternatively, a jar with screening fastened by a metal screw-top ring will work just as well. You’ll also need clean water, like a non-chlorinated source, and untreated seeds.

Almost any seed will sprout under the right conditions, but some are better suited for eating than others in their sprouted state. Note that seeds marketed specifically for sprouting are free of harmful fungicides and other chemicals that some seed growers use to treat their seeds.

Before you start, only buy seeds meant for sprouting. Choose the seed best suited for your purpose.

Over the past three decades, select seeds have emerged as popular choices among home gardeners because of their ability to grow quickly and stay fresh.

Your choices include:

Mild sprouts: 

  • Alfalfa (for salads and sandwiches)
  • Clover (for salads and sandwiches)
  • Mung beans (for salads and stir fries)

Bitter sprouts: 

  • Fenugreek (for salads or stir fries; can be mixed with other sprouts)

Distinct sprouts:

  • Broccoli (for salads, sandwiches, dips and spreads)
  • Quinoa (for salads, dips, soups and spreads)
  • Sunflower (for salads, sandwiches and spreads)

Spicy sprouts: 

  • Oriental mustard (for salads, sandwiches and dips)
  • Radish (for salads, sandwiches and dips)

Sprouts with various flavors:

  • Blue, red or green lentils (for salads, soups and dips)

Another option is to buy seeds and mixes online from sprout and seed companies or at your local health food store. Sprout mixes include more than one seed type and will add a nice variety to your favorite dish if you’re looking for ingredients with a unique blend of flavors.

How to sprout seeds

First, add a couple of tablespoons to half a cup of seeds to your growing jar. When you’re done, you’ll have enough sprouts for sandwiches, salads and other dishes.

Keep in mind that sprouts will double or triple in size, depending on the seed and the variety you are sprouting. Start small so you don’t end up wasting seeds or having sprouts go bad in your fridge.

You’ll need about two to three tablespoons of small sprouting seed like alfalfa or clover and 1/3 to 1/2 cup of larger sprouting seeds like beans or lentils per batch.

Note that quinoa is an exception. As a “pseudo-grain,” quinoa sprouts are small and stay small.

Here are some other tips to remember if you want to grow sprouts at home:

  1. Rinse and clean seeds to remove any dust or other debris.
  2. Soak seeds to “wake” them up and encourage sprouting. You can skip this step for some lesser-known sprouts, but soaking seeds is an important first step for most varieties. Cover seeds completely and soak for six to 12 hours. Poke down any floaters in your sprouting container.
  3. After soaking, drain the water from the seeds and spread evenly in the container so seeds form a thin layer. Don’t pile seeds on top of one another. If you have a jar, try laying it on one side for even distribution.
  4. Rinse and drain the sprouts in your container once or twice a day. If you’re using hulled sunflower seeds, rinse them more frequently because they might get slimy. Rinse or pick off seed skins to prevent rotting.
  5. Once the seeds have sprouted, continue to rinse and drain regularly every eight to 12 hours until the sprouts reach the desired length.
  6. Consume sprouts fresh or store them in the fridge until consumed. Most sprouts last one to two weeks when kept cool.

Average days to finish sprouts: 

  • Alfalfa and clovers – Five to six days
  • Lentils – Three to four days
  • Mung beans – Three to five days
  • Mustards – Three to six days
  • Radishes – Four to five days

Safety tips for growing sprouts

Sprouts have various health benefits, but there have been recorded cases of E. coli or Salmonella bacteria occurring in commercially grown sprouts. Research suggests that some seeds might have been contaminated by fertilizers while growing in the field.

Ensure that your seeds are safe by buying only organic or “pathogen-free” sprouting seeds.

Always use clean water, utensils and sprouting containers for your sprouts. When your sprouts are done, store them in your fridge and consume them while fresh whenever possible.

Like other kinds of raw food, sprouts may carry a risk of food-borne illness. However, this risk is extremely low.

Grow sprouts at home to add more nutrient-rich ingredients to your food supply without breaking the bank. Growing sprouts also allows you to enjoy the taste of homegrown food during winter.

Sources:

Learn.Eartheasy.com

MotherEarthNews.com

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