This is the time to sprout
This time of year, winter colds and bugs may be starting to get to your family. Your bodies need an extra boost of nutrition and fresh vegetable goodness. All that food we preserved from last year’s garden is dwindling and it will be a couple more months before we will start getting fresh vegetables from the garden. Now is the perfect time to learn how to sprout seeds and legumes.
Sprouting turns an ordinary seed into a powerhouse of flavor and nutrition. When seeds or legumes are sprouted, their Vitamin A content will usually double and Vitamins B and C will increase anywhere from 5-10 times. Sprouting also makes the proteins moredigestible. Many people who have trouble eating legumes will find that they have no problem when they are sprouted.
What you need to get started
The great thing about sprouting is it does not require any special equipment. Oh yes, you can buy sprouting trays if you want. I’ve used several different models and they work great. They make rinsing and soaking a 30 second job each day. And yet I always come back to a simple mason jar and strainer.
You can buy mesh lids just bout anywhere. A set of 3 lids costs around $13. The mesh makes it easy to drain the sprouts. But even that little splurge isn’t really necessary. Just cut a piece of pantyhose or tulle mesh and secure it to the jar with a canning ring.
Just soak a handful or two of grain, beans or nuts in a jar of water, overnight. The next morning, drain the liquid, rinse and drain again. Turn the jar on its side and shake so that the seeds are evenly distributed. Put a wet rag or dishcloth on the mouth of the jar and secure it with a rubber band. This keeps the water from all evaporating. Then just rinse and drain the grains or beans once or twice a day.
The first day the seeds will swell, doubling or tripling in size. (Make sure you take into account this swelling when you choose the size of your jar!) Then, anywhere from a day to a week later you will see sprouts emerge. Just let them grow until they are the length that you want. If you let them sprout even longer, leaves will emerge. You want those little leaves if your are sprouting alfalfa, mustard or cabbage. But for most other sprouts–especially beans and wheat–you do not want leaves.
See how easy that is?
Already know how to sprout?
Great! Now is the time to start experimenting with using sprouts. Just about everyone is familiar with alfalfa sprouts in salads or bean sprouts in stir-fry. But how about using sprouts in homemade bread? Or make a bean salad with sprouted beans? Boost the flavor and nutrition of your hummus by using sprouted chickpeas or try a tasty sprouted pea spread.
These are three of my favorite recipes using sprouts: Sprouts in Garlic Sauce, Curried Lentil Salad and Korean Bean Sprout Salad. I hope you will at least try the Curried Lentil Salad–it has such an unusual mix of ingredients that make it a surprisingly tasty dish.
My all-time favorite resource for sprouting information and recipes is The Sprout People. Besides a full line of sprouting supplies and instructions on how to sprout, they also have dozens of recipes using sprouted seeds, grains and legumes. Honestly, their recipes make some of the tastiest dishes I’ve ever made.