As promised here I am with sprouting and micro green lessons 😉
I’ve already mentioned how good they are for you (and will add more on that in future posts) and think about it – they are the ultimate fast food! I tend to work on a Wednesday – Sunday schedule. By starting new sprouts off twice a week you’ll always have some available.
There are many ways of growing them but what I want to do is encourage you to do it the easiest and cheapest way possible. Yes, I do have The Farm (my EasyGreen automatic sprouter which I LOVE – see link below) but I still use jars etc. I have a sprouting jar which I find great for the bigger ones like mung sprouts – that’s still my prefered way of growing them actually.
The main thing is with jars they must be able to drain thoroughly so if you’re using a jam jar it will need angling at 45 degrees. I find the jar method not so good for smaller sprouts such as alfalfa and clover and pity useless for mucilaginous seeds like linseed and cress.
There are several other sprouting kits available but I want to help you do it with minimal outlay. (If you want to look at more sprouters click here; http://www.ukjuicers.com/sprouters-and-seeds ) I have bought lots of stuff from this company and they’re great! (My juicer also came from them but more on that another day 🙂 )
The secret to sprouting lies in the frequency of rinsing (depending on the seeds, this is normally 2-3 times a day. There are some seeds that need special attention and we’ll cover those again). The other important thing is DO NOT overcrowd them in your jar. 1 tablespoon of mung beans may well look lost in your jar – but when they get going – they need that space. This is the biggest cause of failure! They will rot if they don’t get good ventilation.
Best sprouts to grow?
For ease and to get you started stick with easy ones; radish, broccoli, black eyed beans, cabbage, chick peas, mung and adzuki beans (these both sprout in the same time frame so can be grown together as in the picture above) and peas. Lentils are delicious too – but please, save your breath, don’t try and sprout the red ones – they’re hulled and split and will not sprout, ever! I love the Puy lentils – they taste like fresh peas once sprouted! Alfalfa and clover are best done in a tray (I’ll cover that tomorrow with micro-greens)
Ones to avoid are soya beans, kidney beans and I tend to avoid any of the bigger beans due to the fact some aren’t safe to eat uncooked. The largest bean I sprout is the black eyed bean (delicious!) I would also suggest skipping the mucilaginous seeds too as they can quickly become a slimy, smelly mess when done in a jar. (If I grow cress etc I do so in soil).
The Chinese recommend if you have a weak constitution (?) you should lightly cook your sprouts first before eating. I never do unless I’m throwing them in a stir-fry or curry. If you end up with lots – great! Pop them in a bag and freeze them for adding to cooked dishes. They are still really good for you!
So you have your jar, a piece of muslin or similar (plus elastic band to hold it in place) for the top of the jar, and you have your seeds/beans – what now?
Soak your seeds/beans overnight in water. Bear in mind this is the water they will swell with and start to sprout. Make sure it’s good water! I use filtered. (Tap water is fine for rinsing). Lots of people use tap water per se so don’t let it put you off – use what you’ve got and use it wisely. I use my rinse water for my houseplants as it does contain some nutrients that are now available to them. Try not to waste it – water is one of our most precious commodities! (OK, I’m off my soapbox now 🙂 )
Next morning, drain and rinse. Fill and rinse several times, swishing them around. Drain again and leave at the angle of 45 degrees. Repeat 3 x a day until you have your sprouts!
Like I said – the ultimate fast food!
Get the kids involved – they love seeing where their food comes from and it teaches them about life. Sprouts are naturally sweet which is why kids go for them and if you pack some in a lunchbox – they’ll stay fresh until they eat them.
Don’t leave them in a sunny window – they’ll fry – remember they’re babies and are at a delicate stage of their development! If you want them to green up (some are better, some are not!) put them in a spot which receives bright but filtered light.
Don’t worry about getting all the hulls out that come off them – they’re fiber!
Buy organic. Don’t use normal seeds from a garden centre etc (unless marked as sprouting seeds). Remember you are what you eat so you want the best. A decent sized bag of green peas for sprouting will last you ages! (Have a look here; http://www.skysprouts.co.uk/ )
Wheat sprouts (top) & green peas (bottom)
Tomorrow, we’ll look at microgreens – this post was longer than I expected!!