Updated: Jan 29
Homegrown Goodness - Sprouting 101
What is it? Sprouting is the process of taking a seed, nut, grain, or bean and inducing the germination process. When seeds are soaked in water for a certain period of time, they soften and germinate, causing their outer layers to tear open allowing a young shoot to blossom. Once germination starts, it changes the seed inside and out; that dormant seed starts to become a live, mini plant. The process of growing seeds into little plants is easy, and the results are huge!
Why do it? Learning to grow food right in your kitchen will not only save you money but it's also a great way to have some freshly harvested produce year round. Aside from the fact that sprouts are an easy, cheap and tasty vegetable anyone can grow, sprouting has some real nutritional benefits; it increases their nutritive value and provides better digestion.
If you’ve ever had troubles digesting a particular grain or legume, I highly recommend trying it sprouted before writing it off all together. You might be pleasantly surprised that sprouted beans, seeds or grains don’t bother your body. Sprouting legumes, grains, and seeds makes them much easier to digest raw by breaking down the anti-nutrients such as phytates and lectins that are common in those foods and can interfere with nutrient absorption.
By and large we're not benefited by eating grains without soaking them; we only get the sugar and the starch. Sprouting tricks the seeds into thinking they’re growing so they naturally convert the lectins into digestible protein and neutralize phytic acid by increasing the activity of enzymes that break it down thereby improving mineral bioaccessibility and bioavailability. Sprouting also increases vitamin A, C and B content along with the fiber and antioxidants while making the seeds more alkalizing in the body.
What's it good for?
Helps In Digestion
Sprouts contain an unusually high content of living enzymes that specifically boost metabolic processes and improve chemical reactions for improved digestion. Plus they tend to contain higher amounts of insoluble fiber, potentially easing digestion and reducing constipation.
Helps In Weight Loss
Sprouts are one of the best foods to support weight loss. They're high in fibre and nutrients but have negligible calories which means you can consume generous portions to keep you feeling full longer.
Helps Build a Strong Immune System
Sprouts have a high vitamin C content that makes them a powerful stimulant for the white blood cells in the body to fight off infections and diseases. They also contain abundant vitamin A, which has antioxidant properties. These two vitamins aid in building immune system strength.
Helps In Healthy Hair Growth
The presence of vitamin A in sprouts stimulates hair follicles and encourages the scalp to grow thicker and longer hair.
Helps In Glowing Skin
Sprouts contain antioxidants that fight the body's cell-damaging free radicals and protect the skin from getting damaged. They also contain silica, which is a nutrient that removes toxins from the body and regenerates the skin’s connective tissues.
How to do it?
Step by step beginner instructions for the jar method:
Buy organic mixed seeds (radish, mustard, broccoli, etc) - they will be chemical free, non-irradiated, and GMO-free - plus a wide mouth mason jar with the plastic or metal screen sprouting lid.
Wash the mason jar and lid then rinse well to remove any soap residue.
Place two tablespoons of seeds in your one-quart mason jar.
Place the screened lid on the mason jar.
Fill the jar ½ full with cold water. Let the seeds soak 3-4 hours.
Rinse the seeds and turn the jar upside down to drain.
Twice a day rinse and drain the seeds (morning and night) for 3-4 days (house temperature will affect sprouting duration).
The seeds should now have developed quite a tangle of roots and you may even see the first few sprouts starting to develop leaves. A bit of sunlight, not much, will fill your tiny sprout leaves with chlorophyll and turn them green.
Enjoy sprouts immediately or refrigerate them in a sealed container for up to a couple weeks. TIP: Make sure sprouts are dry when they go in the refrigerator so they don't rot.
NOTE: Different plant seeds require different soaking and sprouting times so be sure to read the package.
Once you’ve learned how to grow bean sprouts, you’ll be able to keep a variety of fresh sprouts all winter long. You might then move on to growing microgreens. Microgreens are baby salad greens, a little bit like sprouts, but grown in soil that can be grown indoors all winter for a wholesome source of crisp vegetables.
I've always soaked whole grains like beans, buckwheat groats, rice, steel cut oats and quinoa before cooking them to unlock their maximum assimilable nutrition and recently I've started growing sprouts at home. Having fresh, crisp sprouts at hand has led to the discovery that sprouts go far beyond salad and sandwich delectability. Sprouts are also tasty when added to rice dishes, stir-fries, omelets, soups or burgers. Other interesting uses for them are blending them into smoothies and pancake batters, or grinding them into a paste to spread on bread, crackers or vegetables. Sprouting can provide an almost endless adventure of new things to try. I hope I've given you plenty of inspiration to have a go at it too?!