Thursday, January 22, 2015

Sprouting Seeds for Fresh, Year-Round Goodness

Mung beans and sunflower seeds sprouting in the Hub kitchen

One way eat fresh local veggies year-round is to sprout seeds.  Sprouting seeds is the simple, quick and cheap.  Because of our need for these fresh "live" foods and the enzymes and healing properties these foods contain, it is encouraged that a variety of sprouting seeds be a part of every diet. These would include wheat and other grains, lentils, peas, beans, and small seeds like alfalfa, clover, radish, cabbage, broccoli, sunflower, etc.  It’s easy! 

We really enjoy the succulence of mung bean sprouts in stir fries and ramen noodles, and the spicy flavor of radish sprouts to liven up sandwiches.  You can purchase small amounts of seeds, beans and nuts in the bulk bins of our local grocery stores, and experiment to see which sprouts you like best in your household!

Supplies needed:
Sprouting containers. Use wide mouth quart jars for alfalfa and other small leafy greens; trays for beans and wheatgrass, as well as buckwheat or sunflower "lettuce."
*the Hub Tool Share has sprouting jars available to check out! 
Sprouting lids. (available at health food or preparedness stores), create your own out of cheese cloth or a piece of fiberglass screen to cover jar opening. (In dry climates, a piece of nylon stocking works well.)
Sprouting seeds. Any seed capable of growing into a plant will sprout.

Ready, Set, GO!
1. Sort and soak dry seeds. All seeds should be sorted, removing broken seeds and small pieces of debris. Place in a quart jar. Place sprouting lid or fabric (see suggestions above) over the top of the jar. If using fabric, secure with a jar ring or wide elastic band. Rinse seeds well, then pour off water and add soaking water-twice as much water as you have seeds. (Because of the excess salt in softened water, and the chlorine in city water, it is best to use purified water for soaking and rinsing.)
2. After soaking, pour off water and drain well. Whether you leave seeds in the jar or transfer to a tray, tipping the container slightly will help seeds drain better. Most failures at sprouting occur because seeds are not drained properly. (After soaking beans, pour onto sprouting tray and remove any seeds that have not expanded and are still hard; they will not sprout.) When no water drips from sprouts, roll jar so that most seeds coat sides of jar. To sprout in trays, spread seeds evenly, drain well, and cover with a lid or cloth to retain moisture and keep out light. Move to a warm (about 70°F) place and rinse with lukewarm water 2 times a day (or just often enough to keep moist, for small seeds like alfalfa) until sprouts have reached the desired length.
3. Harvesting. Any seed CAN be eaten when the sprout has pushed through the outer shell of the seed. Most grains, beans and larger seeds are best when the sprout is as long as the seed. For instructions on growing "lettuce," wheat grass, and long, fat bean sprouts, see Natural Meals in Minutes, pp. 84-85.
4. "Greening." When leaves have appeared on small seeds like alfalfa, and sprouts are about 1" long, place jar in a light place (not in direct sunlight) to "green" for 3-4 hours, allowing the chlorophyll to develop.

Store sprouted seeds in a covered container with paper toweling on the bottom and between layers. Use within 4-5 days. Sprouted beans and grains can be frozen for later use. Mung and soy beans that are sprouted to about 2" long turn limp when thawed, but can still be used in cooking. I put 2-cup portions of sprouted grains or legumes in quart zip-loc bags, force out excess air, then stack flattened bags in the freezer where they store well for 1-2 months.

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