Monday, February 1, 2010

I Can Sprout!


One of my New Year's resolutions was to learn how to grow sprouts.  I honestly didn't know if I'd be able to do it.  It seemed like it would be so difficult.  But to my surprise, it wasn't.  In fact, it was EASY!  I couldn't believe how easy it was!  I have had great success with simple organic alfalfa seeds!  And I have enjoyed eating the "fruits of my labors" on all sorts of things: salads, sandwiches, tacos, and even all by themselves!  They are a perfect raw food, full of life and high nutrition.  And they taste so refreshing!  Plus, it's far more economical to grow your own than to purchase them at the market!  I hope maybe you'll be inspired by my small measure of achievement and give sprouting a try yourself!  I'll share with you all the tips I used to make my little dream a reality.  Don't be scared!  I can sprout and so can you!  Let's get started!  

My instructions are taken from a photocopy of excerpts from the booklet, "Sprouting For Health in the New Millennium" by Handy Pantry Distributors.  Feel free to follow the links for more information or to order products and seeds.  For clarity, I will put any personal thoughts into parentheses.  And of course, all the photos are my own. 

The Six Rules of Sprouting:
Rinse Often.
Keep them moist, not wet. 
Keep them at room temperature.
Give them plenty of room to breathe.
Don't put too many in any one container.
Keep them covered--no light. 

How To Grow Sprouts -- The Jar Method:

Good sprouting technique doesn't take a "green thumb", just paying attention to four factors: the right amount of moisture, the correct temperature, the free circulation of air, and minimal light.  By rinsing them a couple of times daily, you keep them moist.  You also wash away carbon dioxide and other metabolic wastes that could cause souring or spoiling.  Using cool water when rinsing ventilates and cools the sprouts to prevent overheating.  Proper draining prevents excessive moisture that can cause mold and rot.  The ideal sprouting temperature depends on the seed, but generally lies between 70 and 85 degrees.  To protect the tiny growing things, keep sprouting containers away from cold drafts, direct heat, or any light.  For free air circulation, at least one-third of the container must be empty.  Sprouts expand 6 to 10 times over a few days, so give them plenty of room to grow.  Sprouts are very light sensitive and need to be covered during the early stages of the growing cycle. (Distilled water is the best choice for all soaking and rinsing.  Use it if you can.  The entire cycle will probably take five or six days, from soak to harvest.)

The Seed's Packaging

Step One: Soaking
For a quart-sized (glass canning) jar, start with 1 1/2 tablespoons seeds inside the jar, screw on the fine mesh lid (or just an old nylon stocking and rubber band.  Even having no cover can work! More on that later...) and partially fill the jar with warm water, not hot.  Swirl it around to clean the seeds, then pour out.  Refill with warm water to cover at about 3 times their depth and let soak overnight, away from light.  (I put my jar in the pantry.)

Day 2

Step Two: Draining and Starting
Pour off the soak water.  Find a location that is not exposed to direct sunlight.  Place drained jar propped at an angle (about 45 degrees) to allow any extra water to drain out.  (The mouth of the jar should face down.)  Turn the jar to spread out the seeds.  (The seeds will stick to the jar when they are wet.)  Cover the jar with a dishtowel and leave for 3 to 4 hours. (I often use the dishdrainer on my countertop to prop the jar at the recommend angle, or else a small rolled up towel under the jar's bottom end.  Sometimes I put another washcloth under the lip of the jar to catch the excess moisture that drips out.  Don't forget to cover.)

Day 3

Step Three: Rinsing
Rinse sprouts with cool, fresh water 2 or 3 times each day until they are ready to eat or refrigerate.  (I thought this step would keep me babysitting my sprouts all day long; a very annoying proposition.  Then I realized I usually eat something with about the same frequency.  Now I just make sure that before I sit down to any meal, I first water my sprouts!  Easy peasy!)  When they begin to throw off the seed hulls, let the jar over flow with water and the hulls will float out the top through the screen.  Turn the jar to spread out the seeds each time you rinse.  (Here's a cool tip:  You don't really need a cover for your jar and this is why.  Just fill a clean spray bottle with distilled water and give your sprouts a bunch of gentle squirts, instead of dousing them from the faucet and then having to drain off all that excess water without losing your seedlings down the drain.  You won't need the mesh cover at all, as long as you have a spray bottle on hand.  Also, keep your sprayer in the fridge and you'll always have cool water ready for rinsing!)

Day 4

Step Four: Harvesting
Pour the sprouts into a pan or sink of clean water.  Skim off any remaining hulls that float to the surface.  Other hulls will fall to the bottom of the container.  (All hulls are discarded.)  Pull out the sprouts, gently shake off excess moisture and drain in a colander.  (Rinse the sprouts very well; spend a few minutes doing it.  They will last longer if you do.)

Day 5

Step Five: Greening
Clean the jar and lid.  Place sprouts for greening back into the jar.  Place in indirect sunlight.  Near a kitchen window is fine.  After the sprouts have greened with chlorophyll and carotene's for a day or so, rinse, drain, and eat or refrigerate.

Day 6

Step Six: Refrigerating
Sprouts will stay fresh and hearty for a week or more when refrigerated, if you rinse them every day or two.  You can even give the green sprouts an extra hour of sunlight after rinsing to keep them at their nutritional peak.  Caution: Since sprouts are frost sensitive, don't place sprouts near the freezer compartment. 

Congratulations!  Now enjoy your living harvest!

17 comments:

VivaciousVegan said...

WOW! I thought sprouting would be harder than that! So you used no meshy thingys or trays or anything!!! That is so cool!!!

Vegan Valerie said...

Hi Brandi, I mean, Vivacious! :)

It IS super easy! And they are SO yummy! I really do hope you give it a try. No fancy equipment necessary! :)

Leah Marie Fauver said...

Val this is AWESOME and sooooo simple! I love sprouts. Thanks for the info :)

Vegan Valerie said...

Leah!

Love you, too! I hope you try sprouting! :)

cc said...

I totally want to try this!

Daishi said...

And the sprouts were totally yummy! It makes me excited to see them there, growing merrily away.

Great job my dearest!

Vegan Valerie said...

Thank you, Daishi and cc!

I appreciate everyones kind comments! Love you all!

Joanna Steven said...

Hi Valerie! You have such a fun blog :) Doesn't sprouting rock? I love it! Currently sprouting alfalfa, clover, radish and broccoli. So good!

Vegan Valerie said...

Thank you Joanna!

I am happy to see you visited my blog and enjoyed it! And I should really try broccoli sprouts! I mean, I've enjoyed them, store bought, but I should grow my own little harvest! Radish are spicy aren't they? And clover... Have I had clover sprouts? I can't remember. I bet they are yummy too! :)

Thanks for stopping by! I hope to hear from you again! I'll probably be back to your blog soon!

Raw Oz Gal said...

Your alfalfa sprouts looke yum! Sprouting is so much fun - it's great watching those little guys grow! I see you already have some great ideas for sprouting already but here are a few others: mung bean and lentil (both are SO simple, they sprout in a few days) and wheat. Wheat is cool because they are edible once they've sprouted and have a nice chewy almost-sweet taste (and are raw!) Keep posting about your sprouting adventures!

Veg is Sexy said...

Oh you're right that looks so much easier than it seems! I haven't tried it yet but maybe one day...

Vegan Valerie said...

Hi Raw Oz Gal!

Thanks for the additional suggestions! I am happy to report that I did sprout organic red lentils a couple of weeks ago! They were very tasty!

I should try sprouting the wheat! My mom has buckets of raw wheat downstairs! I'll bet that they do taste very good!

And Mung Bean? Are those the fatter sprouts that you often see in Asian meals? I like those kind, too! But I haven't tried to grow them yet. I will though. I'll get there.

Thanks for your "raw" encouragement, Raw Oz Gal! I miss you when you're away! Come blog me again soon! :)

Vegan Valerie said...

Thanks, Andria! (I mean, "Veg is Sexy"!) :) I am very glad to have found you! I love visiting your blog! And I appreciate that you come to visit mine too!

Vegan Sexy Power! Hooray!

Averie (LoveVeggiesAndYoga) said...

i think im the only high raw vegan who has never sprouted and who's a little scared..but this has helped me get over my fear..i can't really screw it up, they're just sprouts LOL.

re my GF Vegan pancakes, glad u wanna go make them haha! at 2am

Vegan Valerie said...

Averie,

I felt just the same way you did about sprouting: scared! It was good to bust out of that unnecessary fear! And they taste so yummy and fresh too!

I hope you do give sprouting a try. It is quite rewarding! And it's true--you can't really screw it up: "They're just sprouts!" :)

And yes, it's 2 AM but that doesn't mean it's not a great time for pancakes! LOL! :D

Tess said...

Thank you for posting this, my little sprouts have stopped growing, and now I know why!

Vegan Valerie said...

Tess!

You are so welcome! I hope your sprouts come back to life! Or else, that your next batch grows happily! Thanks for coming by again!