Sprouts ripe with possibilities
Safely germinating seeds is easy and offers many tasty nutritional benefits
By Denise Trowbridge | FOR THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH
1. The seeds should be soaked for eight hours
Sprouts have gotten a bad rap in recent years in the wake of contamination and food-borne illness scares, which has made them harder to find in local produce aisles.
But you can safely sprout seeds at home, and there is compelling reason to do so. Sprouted seeds contain proteins; carbohydrates; vitamins such as A, C and D; and essential minerals such as calcium, according to the Virginia Cooperative Extension and the International Sprout Growers Association.
And there is a wide range of seeds to sprout, each with its own flavor and texture. Popular choices include alfalfa, barley, mung bean, broccoli, radish, lentil, soybean, mustard, sunflower and wheat. You can also sprout corn and garden cress, and garbanzo, pinto and red beans. Sprouts can be eaten raw on salads and sandwiches, added to soups and stir fry, and mixed into bread dough for heartier loaves.
When growing your own, use only seeds designated for sprouting. Regular garden seeds have likely been treated with a fungicide or pesticides, making them unfit to eat in sprout form, according to the Oregon State University Extension.
2. The jar then needs to rest on its side during sprouting.
Before sprouting, wash the seeds in cool water and remove any cracked or broken ones. Then, soak the seeds in water (about four parts water to one part seed) for about eight hours before sprouting.
You don’t need any special equipment to sprout seeds.
You can use the paper towel method. Simply wet two paper towels, wringing out excess water, and lay them flat. Then spread a thin layer of seeds over the surface and cover with another damp paper towel. Place the towels in a large plastic zipper bag, but leave the bag open, so air can circulate around the seeds, according to the Oregon State University Extension. Place the bag in a dark place, and water two to three times a day by sprinkling small amounts of water over the paper towels to keep them damp.
3. After 36 hours, the seeds start to sprout.
The second is the canning jar method. It’s appropriate for sprouting most types of seeds. You will need a wide-mouthed quart canning jar, the jar ring or a rubber band, and either plastic mesh, cheesecloth or nylon screen to cover the hole. One-quarter cup of seeds in a quart jar will produce about 2 cups of sprouts. Wash and sterilize the jar before adding the seeds.
After soaking the seeds, place them in the jar and cover the opening with cheesecloth or mesh. Secure the screening material with the jar ring or a rubber band. Rinse the seeds with water two to three times a day by adding water to the jar, swirling it around, then pouring the water out. The screening material will let water out while holding the seeds in, according to the North Carolina University Extension. Lay the jar on its side, so the sprouts rest in a thin layer and have plenty of room.
VICTORIO KITCHEN PRODUCTS
4. The sprouts are ready to eat in a commercial seed sprouter.
Sprouts prefer to be in the dark during sprouting, so keep the jar in a cupboard or in a paper bag. It will take three to seven days for the seeds to sprout and reach an edible length of 2 to 4 inches, depending on the species. Once the seeds sprout, you can let them bask in the sun, to green up, for a few hours before eating. Don’t leave them too long, or they can become bitter, according to the University of Wisconsin Extension.
There are many professional seed sprouters on the market as well. Many have two to four stacking trays. The benefits include sprouting multiple seed types in a limited space. Many work similarly to the Victorio sprouter. Water is added to the top tray and filters through the sprouts; the excess drains to the bottom, away from the seeds, preventing rot.
No matter the method used, once you’re ready to eat the sprouts, separate the seed hulls from the sprouts by placing them in a pan and covering them with water. The sprouts will sink to the bottom, and the seed hulls should float to the top, making them easy to skim off. Sprouts are best eaten right after washing, although they can be refrigerated or frozen for later.
Most sprouts grow best in temperatures between 70 and 85 degrees but away from drafts and direct heat, according to the Oregon State University Extension.
Denise Trowbridge is a Columbus freelance writer who covers garden topics. firstname.lastname@example.org
It is a real pleasure to have fresh sprouts at home, ready when you want them. I read so often of the problems in buying the sprouts in our groceries, health issues and Lord knows – they often didn’t “look” fresh. I stopped buying them altogether. Having grown the wheat grass, it should be no problem to grow the sprouts – even a variety. Anyway, thought I’d run this for you all to go with the adjacent post from Victoria Boutenko. These are just great for sandwiches (especially piled high with a cucumber, avocado – umm) and or salads and of course anything you might be doing in a WOK. Go easy on the heat, however. . .it kills off enzymes etc.,. . . just sayin”. . . Jan)