Friday, November 2, 2007

Sprouts: The Nutritious Garden Anyone Can Grow

Diet Start

Many more varieties of sprouts can be grown at home than can be purchased from retailers. Growing sprouts at home is always preferable to purchasing them, as the risk of mold or contamination is much lower. It is easy to do.

Supplies to Get Started

A green thumb isn't necessary to grow these delicious greens at home. The following are a number of basic approaches to sprouting:

1. A large, wide-mouthed jar works well for most bean seeds and smaller seeds, such as radish, cabbage, and alfalfa. The mouth of the jar can be covered with a fine mesh screen or piece of cheesecloth held in place with a strong rubber band. Some varieties of seeds, especially the taller sprouts such as sunflower, require more room than a jar offers to achieve uniform growth. Another drawback of the jar method is that the draining and air circulation are poor, and that can result in mold if not done properly Sprouts in a jar must be rinsed daily-do not let them dry out, as this will prevent sprouting. After rinsing the sprouts, place the jar upside down on a drain board until the next rinsing. Rinsing once daily is sufficient.

2. A basket-type sprouted allows the sprouts to obtain their full height and produces uniform growth among sprouts. Basket sprinters are often referred to as vertical sprinters. In general, the yield of sprouts is higher with this method. An unvarnished bamboo basket with a small, tight weave can be fashioned into an efficient sprouted. Depending on the circumference of the basket and the size of the seeds, you can sprout up to 6 to 7 tablespoons of seed in a basket. You will need to create a "greenhouse tent" over the homemade basket. This can easily be accomplished by placing a document-sized locking plastic bag over the basket during the growth stage of the sprouts. The "greenhouse tent" will keep the sprouts moist and prevent them from drying out. You should also elevate the basket using small wooden dowels to accommodate airflow under the basket.

A colander can be used to make sprouts-just make sure the grid is small enough so that the seeds won't fall through. Purchase a colander made of a natural material or plastic. Do not use an aluminum colander, since the relationship between Alzheimer's disease and aluminum deposits in the brain is well documented.

Vegetable sprouting kits can be purchased from most health food stores or from companies that specialize in seeds and sprouting equipment. (See the Resources section for some recommended sources.) Most seeds can be sprouted using a vertical sprouted. Larger seeds, such as buckwheat and sunflower, tend to perform better in a basket with a larger weave.

Sprout bags made from natural fibers of the flax plant are the easiest to use and work well for bean and grain seeds. They are not suitable for sprouts that develop chlorophyll, since they don't permit sufficient light into the bag.

Ready, Set, SPROUT

Whichever type of system you use, the procedure for growing sprouts is essentially the same. If you are growing sprouts in a jar, use 2 tablespoons of seed. An eight-inch basket type sprouted will accommodate 5 tablespoons of seed, while a bag can sprout up to 2 cups of seeds. First, rinse the seeds. Most seeds (except for chia, alfalfa, cress, oat, or mustard seeds) should then be soaked by placing them in a quart jar and covering them with several inches of cold water. Most seeds require soaking overnight, but smaller seeds require only a few hours of soaking. For an additional nutritional boost, add a few drops of liquid kelp or two leaves of dry or fresh kelp to the water during soaking. The seeds will absorb the nutrients in the kelp. If you are using dry or fresh kelp, be sure to remove it after soaking and before sprouting.

After the seeds have been soaked, drain the water, rinse the seeds in fresh water, drain the seeds again, and then place them in whatever vessel you will be using to sprout them. The sprouting bag or basket should be moistened before you add the seeds. Handle sprinters "gently." Rapid movement may cause awkward shifting of sprouting seeds, breaking the tender shoots and causing spoilage.

From this point on, it is very important that the seeds remain moist. If they dry out, they may still sprout, but they will not develop to their full potential. Gently rinse and drain the seeds twice a day. Use either distilled water with trace minerals added or a good quality filtered water, since the sprouts will absorb the water. (The rinse water contains nutrients-save it and use it to water houseplants or use it in soup stock.)

As the seeds begin to germinate, soak them in cold water to remove the hulls. Using a tea strainer, skim hulls off the water as they float to the top. This will help to prevent premature spoilage. The germination stage is critical to the development of sprouts. In nature, Mother Earth keeps the seeds warm and moist. Light isn't necessary for germination, but the seeds must be kept warm and moist or they will be ruined.

If you are using a jar, cover it with a towel and place it near a sunny window, on a seventy-degree angle or thereabouts. If you are using the basket method, go ahead and place the "greenhouse tent" over the basket at this stage. A bag sprouted can be dipped in a basin of warm quality water then hung on a hook to drain.

Once the seeds have germinated, place chlorophyll forming sprouts in a sunny window. Since grain and bean seeds do not produce chlorophyll, it isn't necessary to place them in a window. Continue to rinse the sprouts twice daily until they reach maturity

However you decide to make your sprouts, the following tips will ensure the healthiest, freshest sprouts possible:

... andjoyohoxing