Sprouting seeds increases their nutritional value as much as 2,000% and dramatically increases the availability of various enzymes. While you can probably find alfalfa and mung bean sprouts at your local grocery store and on most salad bars now-a-days, if you want broccoli or cauliflower sprouts you’ll probably have to make them yourself.
Six Steps to Successful Sprouting
Fortunately, sprouts are easy to make. All you need is a glass canning or mayonnaise-type jar (about a quart-size, with a wide mouth), some organic seeds and a screened lid.
1. To make your own screened lid, cut a piece of cheesecloth or clean nylon pantyhose so that it overlaps the mouth of the jar about two inches all around. You’ll need a large rubber band to hold this screen on the jar.
2. Now soak the seeds overnight in water. Place two tablespoons of seeds in the jar and cover with about two inches of water. Put the lid on. If you’re using alfalfa seeds, place the jar in the refrigerator overnight. Alfalfa seeds respond favorably to the coolness for germination. Broccoli, cauliflower, mung beans and lentils don’t require refrigeration, and they only need to be soaked for eight to 12 hours or until they are swollen to two times their dry size.
3. After the soaking, drain the water through the lid. Don’t pour it down the drain, though! This water is loaded with minerals and is great for "feeding" house or garden plants. Rinse the seeds well by refilling the jar with water and pouring it out again. Repeat this until the water runs clear.
Once the rinsing is done, prop the jar diagonally upside down to drain so air can circulate. Make sure they aren’t packed too closely together by lightly tapping the jar so the seeds spread out along the side. This is where the sprouting can go bad. The seeds have to dry and get adequate circulation! Don’t let the jar sit straight up or no air will be able to circulate. (A dish drainer works well here.) Now, lay a cloth or paper towel over the jar, or prop it up in a kitchen cabinet to block out most of the light for better germination.
4. Each morning, evening, and before bed, rinse the sprouts and prop the jar upside down as described above. (A rinse at noon and mid-afternoon would also be good if you have time.) Seeds give off waste material and gases during sprouting, and these must be rinsed off or the seeds will sour or mold.
Seeds should be moist, but not wet! If you live in a humid area, it may take longer for the seeds to sprout, and there’s a greater tendency for them to sour. If this is the case, just rinse more often. Don’t be concerned if they spoil--just start again! (You’ll know they’ve spoiled if the seeds don’t germinate within a few days. Spoiled seeds also give off a rather foul odor.)
5. In three to five days, the sprouts will be just about ready to eat. They should be one to two inches in length. Fill the jar with water, swish it around, then skim off any hulls that float to the top. Do this several times. A few hulls provide natural bulk and roughage, but get out what you can easily. Now, drain the water out of the jar again, but this time leave it uncovered, rightside up, and in the open, so the light can develop the chlorophyll. Do not put sprouts in direct sunlight, and don’t let them dry out. When the sprouts have turned a light green color, they are ready to eat.
6. Rinse once again before eating, and then enjoy! Sprouts are fantastic in salads, sandwiches, mixed vegetables, and as snacks, and they can even be ground up in your favorite juice drink.
Store extra sprouts in the refrigerator. Now it’s time to start another batch so you have a continuous supply. (If you have a large family, you can use a half cup of seeds in a one gallon jar.) They are great to eat on their own, add to a sandwich, or a salad.
Now it’s your turn: What kinds of meals do you use sprouted seeds in?