You may not realize how easy it is to sprout seeds in your own kitchen. In fact, seed sprouting is probably the easiest, fastest, and cheapest way to grow fresh, healthy food, free of chemicals, that are packed with energy. Oh, and they are delicious!
Why Sprout Seeds?
Seeds are tiny powerhouses of nutrition. They are full of vitamins C and E, beta-carotene, folate, flavonoids, amino acids, and minerals such as calcium, iron, magnesium, and zinc. Sprouting increases the concentrations of vitamins and minerals within the seed, making them more available and absorbable.
Eating unsprouted seeds can cause digestive problems which can lead to inflammation in the body. Sprouting unlocks a range of powerful enzymes which makes digestion easier and increases beneficial gut flora. Including sprouted seeds in bread and other baked goods has been shown to decrease gluten proteins and increase folate and dietary fiber.
You can also feed sprouted seeds to your chickens, birds, and small rodents, like guinea pigs, hamsters, and rats. And of course, you can grow wheatgrass for your dog or cat! After all, we all want healthy, happy pets.
What Types of Seeds to Sprout
You’re probably already familiar with sprouted mung beans, but you can sprout any seeds you like. Radish, pea, chickpea, alfalfa, fenugreek, sunflower, mustard, wheat, lentil, and broccoli are most popular, but you can really sprout almost any legumes or other seeds. You can find a whole variety of sprouting seeds HERE on Amazon! However, you should be careful with kidney beans as they can cause nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea if eaten raw. If you do choose to sprout kidney beans, you should cook them for at least ten minutes before eating them.
You can buy seeds specially grown and packaged for sprouting from your local health food store or online. While you can grow sprouts from lentils and other pulses bought at the supermarket, they can’t be guaranteed free of irradiation if they’re imported, which means they will never sprout. Another benefit of buying seeds grown expressly for the purpose of sprouting is that they are guaranteed free of E-coli and salmonella, so they are safe to eat raw.
How to Get Started
There are many options for sprouting, from buying a kit to using trays or jars. The easiest way to sprout seeds is to use a jar. Mason jars are perfect for sprouting as they have wide necks for easy access.
Clean the jar thoroughly, place the seeds in the jar, cover with cool water and swirl to make sure the seeds are soaked. You can leave the jar open or cover with fabric such as muslin or cheesecloth, or a lid as long as the lid has holes in it. You can buy lids that fit Mason jars purpose-made for seed sprouting.
Leave the seeds to soak, and rinse twice a day in cool water until they have sprouted. Harvest when they are at the right sprouting stage for you. It’s up to individual taste as to when your sprouted seeds are ready, but generally, they will be ready within a few days.
To harvest, rinse and drain your sprouts and spread them over some clean kitchen towels. Let them air-dry for up to an hour before storing in a glass food container lined with a clean paper towel. Cover and store in the fridge. Sprouted seeds will keep well for several days if they’re kept dry and chilled.
UPDATE: we recently tried a different method of sprouting using seed quilts and ceramic trays. They are SO easy to use, you just water the quilt and watch them grow. My kids especially love this method of sprouting too!
How to Eat Sprouted Seeds
Whichever method you use to grow your sprouts (jar, tray or kit) you can use them in so many ways, depending on their stage of germination. Of course, you can eat your sprouted seeds straight from the jar as a super healthy snack, and they are perfect in salads, sandwiches, stir-fries and any other dish which uses raw greens.
You can soak nuts and grains to make your own plant-based ‘milks’ too. Simply soak your chosen nut or nuts (almonds, cashews, and macadamias are delicious) overnight, drain and blend with water, a pinch of salt and vanilla. Strain and store in the fridge.
And it’s easy to make your own sprouted seed flour. Harvest wheat, rye, spelt, etc. grains when they have just begun to spout, not more than a quarter of an inch long. You do need to remove the moisture first, so the seeds are dry enough to grind into flour.
The easiest ways to dry your sprouted grain include:
- Air drying in a well-ventilated area for up to 48 hours, depending on the air temperature and humidity
- Drying in your oven at a low temperature for 8-12 hours
- Using an electric dehydrator for up to 24 hours.
Then you can use the flour in breads, cookies, or any other baked goods.
Don’t worry if you leave your seeds for too long and you have a mini forest. You can put them in a tray with soil and grow your own microgreens for salads or grass for juicing.
Once you get the sprouting bug, you can try all sorts of different seeds. There is a range of resources on the internet to help you on your seed sprouting journey.
Here are a few suggestions to get you started:
If you are nervous about getting started sprouting, there are “automatic sprouters” out there that do all of the work for you. We have one, and we use it to grow wheatgrass all the time! But if you are looking for a really easy and fun way to sprout, the ceramic trays and seed quilts are our new favorite!