Fruit and vegetables are often grown in artificially fertilised soils and may be treated with fungicides, insecticides and preservatives.
Alternatively, seeds sprouted at home are a reliable, easy and cheap source of fresh organically grown food and also taste delicious. In just a few days, at any time of year, you can grow your own fresh and crunchy salads in your kitchen. Enjoy a constant supply of sprouted seeds, beans and grains – as near as you can get to the perfect food.
You don’t need any special skills or expensive equipment. You don’t even need soil or sunshine to produce a range of delicious fresh sprouts for sandwiches, salads, stir-fries or to add to soups, stews or bread mix. Try mung beans, adzuki beans, green or brown whole lentils, alfalfa, or a salad mixture.
How to grow sprouts
There are lots of growing methods but the cheapest is to use a large jar. Any well cleaned wide-necked jar will do – preserving jars are ideal – with a piece of muslin or j-cloth over the top held on with a rubber band so the seeds can be drained. The cloth will have to be cleaned or replaced regularly.
Alternatively a good option to begin with is the GEO Sprouter, which has three layers so you can grow an assortment of sprouts at the same time.
Germination times vary slightly for each type of seed but the basic process is the same for all, except pumpkin and sunflower seeds which can be eaten straight after soaking without sprouting – simply soak them in cold water for 12 hours, drain, rinse and eat.
It’s always best to grow sprouts ‘little and often’ as the fresher they are the better they taste. A routine of twice weekly sowing will give you a constant supply.
- Measure about 1 tablespoonful of seeds into a jar. Rinse with cool water then soak in water for about 6 hours or overnight.
- Drain then rinse carefully in cool water and drain thoroughly. Stand the jar in a warm, light position out of direct sunlight.
- Rinse and drain the seeds twice a day with cool water until ready (usually 3 to 6 days). Beans need to be harvested when the ‘tails’ are still short taste so they taste sweeter.
Once sprouted, eat the seeds right away or put them in the refrigerator where they will keep for a few days in a closed container or plastic bag.
Good hygiene is vital for successful sprouting so the sprouts need to be carefully rinsed and thoroughly drained. If they are slimy, mouldy or smelly they either have not been rinsed or drained properly or there are too many in the jar. If they taste bitter or the ‘tails’ are long and discoloured they are too old – you need to throw them away and start again.
Using your sprouts
Sprouted seeds such as alfalfa or radish are delicious in salads, pitta bread, wraps or sandwiches or mixed with other vegetables for juicing. Try a burger topped with alfalfa and garlic mayonnaise.
Sprouted beans can also be used in stir-fries, pasta, soups and casseroles, or added to nut roast or burgers. Children usually love them and will happily eat them just as they are.
Any sprouted seeds, beans or grains can be added to bread mix. Or try stirring some into cooked vegetables just before serving – good combinations are brussel sprouts or broccoli with sprouted mung beans, or peas with alfalfa sprouts.
Birds love them too!
If you would like to know more, you can find lots more details in The Sprouters Handbook