Sprouting: You Should Have Learned This Years Ago

5:41 AM

I've never had a child, but I imagine the joy of bringing life into this world is somewhat comparable to how I feel when I sprout. If you can get past my hyperbolic nature, let me teach you.

We'll start with what you can sprout and in my experience this can been just about anything. If it's an organic, unprocessed seed with a bit of life left in it, chances are it wants to shoot something delicious toward the sky for you to eat. The short list goes something like:

Photo by: Sarah Goertz
Amaranth seed
Barley, unhulled
Buckwheat groats (not kasha, it is toasted)
Chia (salba)
Corn (popcorn)
Mung beans
Navy beans
Oats, unhulled
Rice - brown or brown basmati
Wheat and wheat-relatives: rye, kamut, spelt

    You can purchase a pack of sprouting seeds at a health food store or just pick up some of the whole grains, etc. and do some finger-crossing. To pull off this nutritious feat of botanical magic, you will also need a glass mason jar, a piece of cheesecloth and something to secure the cloth over the mouth of the open jar, like a rubber band or piece of twine. If you don't have cheesecloth, but do have skills, you may want to attempt using a coffee filter or thin piece of paper towel, taking great care.

    Begin by placing about 1 Tbsp of seed into the bottom of your jar and filling it about 3/4 way to the top with water, then fasten the cheesecloth onto the mouth of the jar and let sit on the counter over night. This is called the introductory soak. After about 12 hours, dump the jar upside down, filtering all the water through the cheesecloth, and leaving the freshly soaked and rinsed seeds in the jar. Allow them to sit until late evening.

    Now the only job is to rinse once or twice a day by removing the cheesecloth, filling the jar with water, replacing the cloth, and pouring the water out. Within 5 days or less you should see sprouts growing - they will look like little tails. Sprouts do well with a bit of sunlight especially during the first few days of growth. When they are long enough for your liking simply pop them in your mouth or favourite recipe. As a general rule, they're ready to go when the sprout (tail) is as long as the seed it began from.

    Although my favourite way to eat sprouts is on their own, I also enjoy them in a sandwich, a salad, over a pasta dish or stirfry or blended into a bean dip.

    As with anything, there are some exceptions to the rule. I think it's more fun if you find these out for yourself but here are a few to get you started:
    • Amaranth is so small that it will not need to soak overnight. Try 2 hours.
    • Buckwheat should not do an overnight soak and sprouts very quickly in sunlight.
    • Quinoa must be rinsed before doing anything - this includes cooking it for dinnner
    Sprouts have the highest nutritional benefit per calorie than any other food in the world. They protect us from disease and increase the digestibility of the foods we know and love. Take care of your sprouts and your sprouts will take care of you.

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