Fresh sprouts are filled with antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. They are an excellent source of protein and amino acids. They can be used as ingredients in soups, salads or sandwiches--even baked into breads and cakes. Common choices for sprouting seeds include beans (garbanzo, mung bean, lentil), brassicas (radish, mustard, broccoli), grains (buckwheat, rye, spelt), grass (wheat, barley), greens (sunflower, pea shoot) and alliums (leek, garlic). Other nuts and seeds can also be sprouted and you can create microgreens with sprouting.
Make your own sprout jar by thoroughly washing and drying an old ice tea jar or quart-size canning jar. They are ideal because they are tall and manufactured sprout screens fit the mouths of these jars.
Find or make a sprouting lid. These fit over the jar and usually include a ring that secures the lid to the jar and a screen to hold in the sprouts, yet allow them to remain open to the air. Cheesecloth held in place with a rubber band can be used for seeds too small for a screen to accommodate.
Sterilize the jar and sprouting lid by using a bleach rinse (1 teaspoon bleach to 1 quart water) followed by a clean water rinse.
Buy fresh seed. Store seed in a dark place and a container sealed against moisture. Some seeds also require cold temperature storage.
Measure two tablespoons of seed per jar. Rinse your seeds before adding them to the jar. Take a moment to look through them for any small stones or agricultural remnants.
Add the seeds to the jar and cover them in water. According to the Soak seeds in four times their volume of water. Stir the seeds to make sure they have not clumped in the jar. A chopstick makes an excellent stir stick. Soak the seeds for 12 to 24 hours.
Add the lid and pour off the water. Twice, rinse the seeds with cold water and drain the jar thoroughly. Prop the jar with the bottom slightly raised so that any remaining water inside drains away (it will run out through the screen). The chopstick makes a good prop.
Rinse the contents of the jar with cold water two to three times per day. Drain them well each time, placing the jar back in its angled position upon completion. The process takes less than a minute.
Keep the sprouts in an open location as they grow, not in a cabinet. Good air circulation prevents mold. Light is not important in the sprouting process, but it is necessary to develop a green color on sprouts. Leaving sprouts on a kitchen counter is a good solution.
De-hull sprouts by adding them to a bowl, rinsing them and straining the hulls from the top layer. The hulls are usually fine to leave intact and consume along with the sprouts. Remove any seeds that failed to sprout.
Sprouts are ready to eat after three to six days. Store finished sprouts in the refrigerator. Sprouts from small seeds are good for about one week but sprouts from large seeds should be discarded after three to four days.
About this Author
Alice Moon has been a freelance writer for one year, writing on the Internet for over 10 years. Moon holds a B.S. in political science (Asian studies minor). She was chosen as a Smithsonian Institute intern, working for the National Zoo in Washington, DC. She traveled through Asia as part of a delegation from her university to its sister universities overseas.