How to Grow Sprouts
As winter draws near, it becomes more difficult to find good, fresh greens. Fortunately, anyone can grow their own greens, right in their own kitchen. No soil is needed – and no green thumb.
Sprouts are not only easy to grow, but they are delicious and healthy, too. Researchers at Johns Hopkins University, for example, say three day old broccoli sprouts are fantastic cancer fighters – 20 to 50 times more so than ordinary broccoli.
Sprouts of all kinds are also loaded with vitamins and nutrients. Grow them to add crunch to winter sandwiches and salads, or to add a nice twist to soups and stir fry.
What You Need to Grow Sprouts
You don’t need much to start sprouting. Seeds or beans, naturally, are essential, and should be purchased with a certain amount of care. You can’t use ordinary store bought garden seeds, since these may be treated with chemicals. Instead, use seeds from your garden, or seeds sold specifically for spouting. You can often find them in grocery stores, health food stores, and garden centers.
Many seeds can be sprouted, including alfalfa, wheat, barley, broccoli, oat, onion, black bean, buckwheat, Chinese cabbage and ordinary cabbage, corn, garlic, garbanzo bean, kidney bean, corn, fava, lima bean, millet, peanut, peas, Sesame, sunflower, pumpkin, radish, and rye. Each has it’s own unique flavor and nutrients.
In addition, you’ll need a wide mouthed, glass or plastic quart jar. You can purchase a special sprouting contraption, if you prefer; it can make the growing sprouts slightly easier because you won’t need to rinse them as often. If you use an ordinary jar, you’ll also need cheesecloth and a rubber band.
In recent years, sprouts have been in the news for a small outbreak of bacteria. Therefore, many experts recommend heating the seeds before sprouting. This reduces germination rates, but kills any bacteria that could be present.
To do this, simply fill a saucepan with water and heat it to exactly 57.22 C. (135 degrees F.) Pour seeds or beans into the pan and keep them there for 5 minutes. Strain immediately.
Pour 1 ½ tablespoons of seeds or beans into the sprouting jar. Add warm water until it’s about 3 times the depth of the seeds. Lay a piece of cheesecloth over the jar opening and hold it in place with a rubber band. Set the jar out of direct sunlight.
The following morning, pour the water from the jar without removing the cheesecloth. Prop the jar up so it’s at a downward slant; this allows any remaining water to drain. After 4 hours of draining, add cool water. Rinse the sprouts with cool water 2 or 3 times a day until they are fully sprouted.
Some people like to remove the husks of the seed before eating the sprouts. To do this, pour the sprouts in a bowl of fresh water. The hulls will float on top of the water; skim them away. Strain the sprouts.
Use sprouts promptly.
They may be patted dry and stored in an air tight container in the refrigerator for up to 6 days.
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