How to Sprout Your Own Sprouts
Super easy + super nutritious, sprouting is one of the best ways to up your intake of healthy food.
Sprouting is relatively inexpensive, you can do it at home using your own bowls and jars, or most health food stores will carry ready-to-go sprouting kits. You can sprout seeds, nuts legumes and grains, from almonds to alfalfa to buckwheat, but be sure to purchase organic. Organic raw seeds are 'alive' and will sprout easily, whereas inorganic seeds that have been treated with heat in some way may not sprout.
Sprouted seeds are nutritionally higher in Vitamins B, C, A + E than their unsprouted counterparts. Sprouting helps to breakdown the natural enzymes that coat nuts, seeds, grains and legumes. These enzymes are needed out in the wild to protect them from predators and from sprouting before they are ready. Out of the wild, these enzymes are hard for our bodies to digest and also means we get less of the nutritional value these foods have to offer. Soaking and sprouting breaks down these enzymes making absorption of their nutritional goodness much more easier for us, decreasing the likelihood of bloating and fatigue in the process.
One of the biggest benefit is the breakdown of phytates, which occur naturally in seeds, nuts, legumes and grains. Phytic acid is how these foods store phosphorus and it can become a problem for us as it binds to minerals in the digestive tract effectively decreasing absorption of goodies such as iron and zinc. Sprouting and soaking will breakdown phytic acid, making absorption of minerals much more easier for the body, which is particularly helpful for those who are eating a predominantly plant and whole grain based diet.
You can think of sprouting as a step along the way to full digestion of these foods, it's like pre-digestion. This is helpful for those of you who feel bloated after eating beans of any description! The increase in protein and fibre sprouted food offers means you can make more of a meal of these foods as they will keep you fuller for longer. Sprouting also brings out the flavour of these foods, which is an added bonus!
Sprouted food is also known as 'activated' and encourages the production of healthy bacteria in our digestive system, which in turn has positive effects on our immune system. The use of sprouts is as creative as you want to make it. You can have them in sandwiches, mixed in salads, as a base for main meals, as a snack, in stews, in soups or in smoothies.
How to Sprout
Place seeds in a large glass bowl or mason jar, and cover with 2 -3 times as much filtered water. Cover the bowl or mason jar with a cheesecloth held in place with a rubber band, or a sprouting screen or sprouting lid. 1-2 tablespoons seeds with 2-3 cups water is a good ratio, however most health foods stores will carry ready-to-go sprouting kits with seeds of all kinds and instructions to go with them, so you can follow those if you prefer.
Leave the seeds to soak for 8-12 hours, over night is usually the easiest, then drain in the morning and rinse well until the water runs clear.
If you soaked the seeds in a bowl, transfer to a jar and make sure the cover or lid is on securely. Place the covered jar on an angle for the excess water to drain away. Some sprouting kits come with a handy stand to place the jar on, otherwise you can place the jar on an angle inside a large bowl, to catch the excess water. It's helpful to leave the jar in a place in the kitchen that is at room temperature, where there is ample airflow and where you will see it regularly. This is because you need to rinse and drain the seedlings at least twice each day until they have finished sprouting. Having them in eyesight is the best way to remember! Most seeds will start sprouting within 1 day and be finished in 4. When the tails are approximately 5mm in length they are ready.
To store your sprouts, make sure they are dry, as excess water will encourage unwanted bacteria growth. Ew. You can place them in a container and sit them in the sunlight for an hour or so to dry them out, then store them in the fridge. Consume within 2-3 days, in whatever way tickles your fancy.