Starting your own seeds for homegrown sprouts is an easy way to add a healthy aspect to your diet. There are several sprout kits available for purchase. Sprouts can be grown from a variety of seeds--such as wheat, lentils, broccoli, clover or alfalfa. The four basics to growing sprouts include providing the proper moisture, temperature, air circulation and light.
Purchase seeds labeled for sprouting, as they can be treated with chemicals and pesticides. Seeds for sprouting can be purchased at health food stores, garden catalogs and garden centers. Store unused seeds in an airtight container and out of the light, as they will keep longer. Experiment with different seeds to find a taste you like. Broccoli has a sharp taste, triticale tastes sweet. Radish and onion sprouts taste like the vegetable.
Culinary Uses For Sprouts
Sprouts are a valuable resource in the kitchen. Their common use is in salad. Lentil, mung, radish, or pea sprouts can be used in soup for flavor or seasoning. Add sprouts to steamed rice just before serving. Radish, barley, or watercress add flavor to the rice. Wheat, watercress, and lettuce sprouts taste good juiced and mixed with tomato juice. Stir-fry dishes benefit from onion, clover or radish sprouts. Potatoes are easily spiced up with bolder-tasting sprouts.
There are several methods for sprouting seeds. A large collection of seed-sprouting kits can be purchased for between $10 to $100. The easiest and cheapest is the jar method, which uses a traditional widemouthed quart canning jar. Large seeds and nut seeds can be sprouted using the paper towel method. This method lines a glass baking dish with two layers of moistened paper towels. Place presoaked seeds on the towels and cover with two more layers of moist paper towels, leaving ends open for air circulation.
Presoaking, Rinsing and Draining
Every sprouting method will have requirements for presoaking, rinsing and draining the seeds. For example, 3 tbsp. of alfalfa sprouts need to soak for four hours. They need to be rinsed and drained three times a day. They will be ready to eat when they are 1 to 2 inches long, which should take about three days. Follow package directions on the seed packet for presoak times and daily rinsing requirements.
Preparation and Storage
Sterilize the sprouting equipment with one part bleach to 10 parts hot water. Sort through the seeds and remove any debris or broken seeds. Once sprouted, place them in the sun so they will produce chlorophyll. Sprouts that are ready to eat can be stored in a sealed container in the refrigerator. They can be perked up by rinsing and draining them in cold water and setting them back in the sun. Sprouts will last about one week.