The
Freshest,
Most Home Grown,
Sprouted Legumes
Ever

What You'll Need

Ingredients

Various legumes or grains: lentils, chickpeas, mung beans, kidney beans, wheat berries, etc. And, of course, water.

Equipment

A big bowl, a large sieve, colander or other straining device, a large mason jar or cloth bag, and a nice window sill.

Time

Roughly the time you devote to stroking your cat each day.




Soaking Your Seeds

Soaking your seeds is easy, but there are a few things that can go wrong if you're unlucky or careless (think wet floors and farting dogs). But don't let that dissuade you. Sprouts are one of the very best ways of getting healthy, home grown, nutrient-rich, alive-and-kicking foods into your diet.

First, choose the seeds or beans you want to sprout (advice below), then put them in a big bowl or pan and fill it almost to the brim with water. The seeds will expand considerably so they shouldn't occupy more than a quarter of the pan when dry. That way you won't have swollen seeds on your carpet in the morning. Also, avoid soaking your seeds in a glass container with a narrow neck, as these can sometimes break under pressure.

Leave the seeds to soak overnight, or for up to 24 hours, in a sink or on a counter top where it won't matter if a little water overflows.





Draining and Rinsing

Now comes the draining part. (It's not a physically or emotionally draining, I'm just talking about draining the water!). You're about to spend the next two to three days repeatedly rinsing and draining your seeds (2 or 3 times a day) so they stay thoroughly moist while they're getting ready to sprout. Between times you should keep them in a darkish corner so they think they're underground. How simple is that!

Okay, I admit it, if you use a really big a pan to soak your seeds, having to empty water out of it three times a day can be a little physically draining. And if you're like me and try using the pan's lid as your draining mechanism, you can easily end up with water everywhere as well as killing your wrists. So if I have one piece of advice, it's to use a sprouting sack when you're soaking your seeds. (Oops, I should have mentioned that in the previous section, shouldn't I?)

A sprouting sack is just a simple un-bleached cotton bag that you put your seeds in before you soak them. As with the pot, fill the sack no more than a ¼ full of seeds, then place it in your pot and fill to the brim with water, as above. This makes the draining process much easier as you simply lift the sprouting sack out of the pot in the morning and the water drains away of its own accord. Then, two or three times a day for the next several days you can simply hold the sack under running water for a few seconds to rehydrate the seeds, then place it back in the empty bowl. The important thing is never to let the seeds dry out completely, or have them sitting in a lot of water for too long (after the first 12/24 hours, that is). In the first case they'll die of dehydration, and in the second you risk drowning them.

Another common method of sprouting is to use a sprouting jar – a wide-mouth mason jar in which the solid part of the lid has been replaced with a piece of screening. This way you can rinse the seeds by filling the jar through the screening. And then you pour the water right back out by inverting it. This works very well, but I prefer a sprouting sack as it can handle a much bigger quantity of seeds (particularly useful when I'm sprouting wheat berries to make sprouted flour for my whole wheat bread).




Harvesting and Eating

Harvesting is easy. Once your seeds start popping up their sprouts, they're ready to eat. At this point I tend to put them on a window sill so they get some direct sunlight, which encourages them to grow faster. Then, over the next several days, I'll grab handfuls of them and toss them in whatever I'm cooking. Or I'll just chew on them raw.

In terms of cooking I use sprouts several different ways. My two favorite sprouts (I don’t live near Whole Foods so I concentrate on what I can get locally), are wheat berries and mung beans. Bean sprouts are simple. I use them in salads to provide a bit of crunch. And I add them to stir fried vegetables all the time - just tossed in with whatever other vegetables I'm cooking up together, usually in butter.

Wheat berries have even more uses. I frequently use sprouted wheat berries instead of rice. I cook them in bone broth or salted water, or in a pot along with a leg of goat for a delicious accompaniment to the meat. And when I’m really ambitious, I dry my wheat sprouts in the sun or in my solar oven with the back door open, and then grind them to make sprouted wheat flour. Sprouted wheat flour is much more delicious than regular whole wheat flour. The sprouting develops the sugars slightly so the flour is naturally sweet and nutty, perfect for baking. I use it to make bread, cakes and cookies – or anything else that requires flour.




Nutritional Benefits

The nutritional reasons for eating sprouts are innumerable. Just about everything that's nutritious about grains becomes more nutritious during the sprouting process – their vitamins, proteins, fibers, fatty acids, enzymes and more. During the sprouting process the quantities of vitamins in particular increase anywhere from 100% to 2000% (including A, B-complex, C and E vitamins). The proteins in sprouts also change from how they exist in the unsprouted seeds and the quantities of fibre and fatty acids increase as well. But perhaps the most important change that takes place during sprouting involves enzymes. Enzymes are what enable your body to actually use the nutrients you consume. Most whole grains contain enzyme inhibitors which make it difficult for your body to absorb nutrients, including nutrients that you consume alongside, but not as a part of the grains. For example, the calcium in the cheese on your whole wheat sandwich might get bound up by enzyme inhibitors in the whole wheat bread. So sprouting the wheat releases enzymes which help you to absorb the most nutrition possible out of the food you eat.

There’s one warning I’ve read about sprouts that I will share, though I’ve never had any problems myself. The warning is that nature creates an irritant in sprouts to discourage small animals like bugs and rodents from eating baby seedlings. This irritant, in large quantities, can be irritating to people, too. I’ve never felt any ill effects from eating a bowl full of fresh bean sprouts, but the solution if you want to be sure, is to lightly cook your sprouts instead of eating them raw. Cooking destroys the irritants and makes them even more easily and fully digestible. I don’t think you have to worry about putting a few raw sprouts on your salad, but it’s nice to know that there’s a nutritional reason for cooking your sprouts besides the fact that they’re delicious that way!