How to Grow and Harvest Sprouts
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Most legumes, grains and seeds (except potatoes--never eat potato sprouts) can be sprouted for tasty and healthful food. Kidney beans, chickpeas, alfalfa, radishes, sesame seeds, and parsely are just a few examples of potential sprout foods. Sprouts require few tools and ingredients, are inexpensive to grow and provide year-round, unprocessed, fresh food.
Choose seeds that have not been chemically treated and are non-GMO. Purchase seeds from whole foods grocers or seed catalogs. Wash well and discard seeds that float. These are likely sterile. Sprout to seed yield is high. One tablespoon of alfalfa seeds yields about 30 square inches of sprouts. Generally, 1/2 cup of seeds swells to 1 1/2 cups which produces at least a quart of sprouts.
Soak seeds overnight in water three times the seeds' volume. Soak in a warm, dark cabinet. Drain water off in the morning. Reserve the water; it is extremely high in vitamins and minerals and is excellent for cooking rice or vegetables, or adding to soups and vegetable juices.
Rinse seeds, which will be doubled in size, to stop mold. Place in moist container. Keep in warm dark place. Place a paper bag over the container to keep out light. Rinse seeds twice daily. Always drain to prevent rotting. Water your plants with the rinse water, which makes a nutrient-rich plant food.
Start a new batch of seeds nightly to keep a supply of fresh sprouts. Grow a variety for flavorful additions to meals.
Germinate the seeds. Grow sprouts in a colander, strainer, tea strainer or vegetable steamer, to name a few options. Or stretch cheesecloth over a wide-mouthed jar and fasten with a rubber band. Or, use mesh instead of cheesecloth. Place the jar upside down at an angle in a bowl. Use unglazed earthenware for a sprout garden. Plug the drain hole with an absorbent cloth. Put a saucer on top, regularly rinsing the sprouts to prevent mold.
Harvest your sprouts in 3 to 6 days. Place the sprouts in indirect sunlight just before harvesting to generate healthy chlorophyll. Do not overexpose to light or the sprouts will be too tough. Alfalfa, pea and soybean sprouts should be about 2 to 3 inches long. Grain should be no longer than the grain kernel, and sunflower sprouts no longer than the seed. Lentils are good at an inch and mung beans should be 3 to 4 inches long.