You might already have a love for nuts, seeds and pulses, but did you know that you can use them to grow your own sprouts right at home? Growing and enjoying your own sprouts is not only nutritious, but extremely cheap and easy. Leave the wilted sprouts at the grocery store, and get on this dietitian-approved food trend!
- Nutritious: Sprouting increases the amount of nutrients, as well as the ability of our body to absorb them through increased bioavailability and decreased toxins and enzyme inhibitors.
- Cheap: Sprouting is ridiculously cheap! You can get pounds of greens for pennies.
- Easy: It all boils down to “just add water.” With few resources and very little time or effort, you can supply yourself an abundance of live food, in your home, all year round.
- Variety: You can grow more than you would find in a grocery store, providing you with varied add-ins for your salads and recipes. Read on to find what you can sprout!
What can I sprout?
Sprouts can be divided into those grown as small green plants, (mainly eaten raw although some have to be juiced) and those grown briefly just to improve the nutritional qualities of the seed, (mainly grains and beans).
Best grown in open trays, mostly eaten raw.
Alfalfa: Alfalfa means ‘father of all foods’ in Arabic! These have a lovely mild taste means you can’t grow enough. Sensitive to heat.
Buckwheat: Actually an herb, buckwheat likes light, warmth and wet. Needs to soak for 12 hours and a larger mesh or holes to root into than normal, use black un-hulled seeds. The hulls are susceptible to mould so rinse well.
Clover (red): Like alfalfa but sharper taste and bigger leaves.
Fenugreek: Tall and bitter, prefers cool temperatures. Mix with milder sprouts to tone it down.
Garlic: Just as good for health and taste, but with less odorous after effects. Seed jackets don’t come off easily, just eat them! Note: you will see little growth in the first week.
Mustard: Use the black type as it’s easier to grow. Too hot for mass consumption, better for spicing up other meals.
Radish: Hot flavour, and must be rinsed well.
Sunflower (in shell): Black ones are easier to sprout as the shells fall off easily. Similar to buckwheat, as they requires longer soaking, a good rinse, are prone to mould, require a large mesh due to size.
Wheatgrass: Looks like grass and must be juiced. Strong flavor and health benefits. Soak hard wheat grains for 12 hours and use a large holed tray or basket. Harvest with scissors.
Best grown in bags, most of these sprouts are ready in a few days. Unlike greens, you will want to cook these prior to eating. Sprouting the grain will decrease the usual cooking time and increase nutrients and digestibility. It is not recommended to eat large quantities without cooking.
Adzuki: Cousin of the mung bean, crispy, use in salads sparingly.
Barley: Grows about 2 to 3 times the length of the grain.
Chickpea: Use these for a delicious sprouted hummus!
Lentil: Very easy to grow. Steam or eat sparingly on salads.
Kamut: This ancient grain is used the same way as wheat and provides more nutrients. Sprout till the shoots are half the size of the berry.
Mung: The famous Chinese sprout! To get them long, grow under a heavy bag of water with a banana or two nearby (bananas give off ethylene gas, a plant growth hormone.) The seed hulls don’t move easily, let them float away by holding the sprouts underwater, ready in 5 days but you can grow longer.
Oats: Use oat groats. You can eat sprouts raw, but they taste sweeter cooked!
Pea (green): Like lentils, but bigger.
Sunflower (hulled): Sweet nutty taste, but gets bitter and moulds easily if you leave them too long, grow for 2 days, then eat.
Quinoa: Grow until you notice tiny roots.
Wheat: Can be used to make your own sprouted breads, ready in 3-5 days.
Ready to get started? Check out Part 2 of our sprouting series to find out how!
Written by Jessica Hess, RD