Introduction: Easy Sprouting for Healthy Eating and Fun!
One of the healthiest ways you can improve your diet, get healthier, and ensure that you're getting good nutrition is by sprouting. Growing sprouts is easy, fast, and the results are an extremely healthy addition to your diet. In fact, it's possible to replace not just the veggies in your diet with sprouts, but much of the rest of your diet too.
In our house, we eat sprouts on or instead of salad, on sandwiches, and as a snack. Pure alfalfa sprouts are just one of the many types of sproutables you can grow quickly and easily. In this illustration, you'll see a 3-part variety type of sprouts, regular alfalfa sprouts, and lentil beans.
These are just the beginning, though. There are literally hundreds of varieties of sprouts you can grow. Asian Mung is a good example, being a heavy, rich, and potent sprout with a lot of protein and vitamins.
Step 1: Getting the Sprouts & Storing Them
I get my sprouts from an organic store that sells them by the 1/4 pound, full pound, gallon, or five gallon. There are many outlets which sell five gallon buckets with separators keeping three to five separate types of sprout seeds in the bucket.
The seeds are important and need to be cared for to do well in storage. Totally open-air is no good, as the moisture could trigger sprouting, but fully sealed off will kill the seeds. I keep mine in canning jars with unsealed lids, loosely closed. Used canning lids work great with this. Inside the jars in the photos here, you'll see the labels from the original packaging so I can track what's in which jar.
In this illustration, you're seeing my own growing kit which has stack-able trays and drain pans. This is a good setup for those who grow a lot of sprouts (we're using about 3 pounds per week), but plenty of others are available too. The cheapest is to take a bowl or other container capable of holding water, loosely stretch some cheese cloth over it and rubber-band or tie it in place. Then rinse through the cloth into the container and allow the sprouts to grow.
A Chia Pet works too, of course.
Step 2: Sowing the Seeds of Sprout Love
Here you can see how I've arrayed the trays out with the bottles above them. At left is the 3-part salad mix (alfalfa, radish, and broccoli seeds), center is alfalfa, and at right are lentil beans. All are organic, of course.
The seeds are spread into the growing tray, into a jar (if using the sieve-lid type grower), etc. Each type has its own recommended measurement, but none are really precise. I use about two tablespoons per tray here, which produces just under a pound of sprouts or 6-8 ounces of lentils.
Step 3: Initial Soaking of the Seeds
Then comes the soaking. Most sprouts need to soak in clean water for about six hours or so. I do anywhere from six to eight, generally overnight (set it up before bed, wake up and rinse/drain) to make it easy. These trays have built-in drains, making this easy.
So you immerse them in water, as shown, and cover them to keep out of the light. Another great thing about sprouts is that they really only need sunlight for about 8 hours or so to fully develop--at the end of their cycle--before you can eat them. Most of their growing is done in the dark, so you don't need a dedicated window or porch for them.
Step 4: Rinsing, Sunlight, Eating!
After the immersion, you'll begin to see little sprouts popping up within a few hours of the first rinse. You should rinse (and drain) your sprouts 2 or 3 times per day. They should never be left in water after the initial soaking, as the roots need to breathe. The tea from the initial soak will be greenish-brown and is awesome fertilizer for your garden or flower bed.
Alfalfa takes about four days to mature and be ready to harvest. The lentils are usually ready in about that time as well. The 3-part salad mix takes about six days, with at least two full days of sunlight for best results. The lentils need the least amount of light of the three shown here.
So there you have it. A (more or less) complete do-it-yourself walkthrough of sprouting. Lentils make great salad toppers, to ad a little crunch, and alfalfa and garden mixes are awesome alone, on salad, on sandwiches, etc. Enjoy!