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The Basics of Growing Sprouts

Spring is here and you may be itching to test out your green thumb. Learn how sprouting can help you get all of the nutrients of vegetables without the work of a full garden.
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Spring is here even though it may not quite feel like it yet. Whether your garden is on hiatus for the time being until the ground thaws or you've just caught the gardening bug, there's a great way to add valuable nutrients without stepping foot outside -- sprouting.

Benefits of Sprouts
Sprouting is a fun and easy way to get a great daily dose of protein, vitamins and minerals. Most sprouts are very high in vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium and iron. Sprouts also have a short growth period and are very versatile, fitting into a number of recipes. In under a week, you can grow your own nutritious sprouts which can be eaten on their own or added to your favorite salads and smoothies.

Typical Sprouts
The general rule of thumb is any vegetable or herb where we eat the stem of as well as a fruit is a candidate for sprouting. As long as the seed package dictates "for sprouting" then it can be used.  The most common sprouts are:

  • Alfalfa-- Alfalfa is a legume which is high in protein and digestible fiber. Their mild flavor and crunchy texture makes these small sprouts a popular choice to add to stir fry, salads, sandwiches and wraps.
  • Broccoli -- Broccoli sprouts contain a considerably greater amount of sulforaphane than regular broccoli florets in addition to phytonutrients.
  • Fenugreek -- Fenugreek has a flavor too bitter to stand on its own. However, recent studies have shown fenugreek possesses the ability to aid in women's breast health as well as a digestive aid.
  • Clover-- Clover is a popular choice in detoxification regimens for its ability to double as a blood tonic. There have also been studies showing clovers ability to minimize the effects of hot flashes in women with menopause.
  • Radish – Radishes are also very high in vitamins B, E and K as well as having antioxidant properties. It's believed radish sprouts have a rather spicy flavor.
  • Soybean – If you're at all familiar with Thai food, than you've no doubt encountered soybean sprouts. These sprouts are a great source of protein averaging 9 g per serving.

Simple Method for Growing Sprouts
This is a very simple method that requires nothing more than a medium sized jar, sprout seeds, water, sunlight and a cloth:

  1. Place 2 tbsp of seeds in your jar and cover with 2 inches of warm water.
  2. Let sit overnight.
  3. Drain the water. If you aren't using a traditional sprouting jar, cover the open end with a cloth to prevent any loss of seeds.
  4. Rinse the seeds and than drain the excess water.
  5. Repeat twice or three times per day until your sprouts are the desired size (usually three to seven days). Note: Sprouts are normally ready when they're still fairly small and have just begun to turn green.
  6. Wrap the sprouts in paper towel and place them within a covered bowl until they're ready to eat.
  7. Enjoy within the next week.

Drawbacks
The main problem with sprouts is they do take a bit of work. Having to rinse the seeds three times per day may not fit into an active lifestyle. The reality is if you miss one of your rinsing cycles than some of the sprouts will spoil. Some of the other drawbacks include sprouts are breaks and poor airflow resulting in spoiling. Like anything new, practice makes perfect, so keep at it and you'll be adding delicious sprouts to your meals in no time.

For more tips on how to get started and the seeds to get you started check out eVitamins!

 

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