During my year at boarding school (Danish ”efterskole”) many years back we had the windows in our rooms filled with spouting trays with different seeds and legumes in all phases of the sprouting process.
Some years ago I have taken up sprouting again, now also experimenting sprouting new seeds and legumes.
But why sprout?
Well, first of all because it just tastes good!... it is lovely just to eat by the handful and gives a good crunch and taste when added to or topped other foods, like sandwiches or salads, chopped into a dip etc.
And then there are all the health benefits of sprouting; sprouted seeds are a powerhouse of nutrition because when a seed, legume, nut etc. is “woken up” from its dry state by being soaked in adequate amount of water or humidity it will;
- Increase the nutrient absorption of for example B12, Iron, Magnesium, Vitamin E, Beta-Carotene and Zinc, depending on the seed/legume/nut.
- A benefit of sprouting is also that is unlocks beneficial enzymes, which make all types of grains, seeds, beans and nuts easier on the digestive system. This also helps increase beneficial flora.
- Sprouting helps to drastically cut down on the level of carcinogens and anti-nutrients present within seeds. Carcinogens, known as aflatoxins, are present naturally within plant foods including peanuts, almonds, corn and other nuts. These can act like toxins within the digestive tract and may cause different digestive problems
- Several studies have found that when seeds are sprouted their fiber content increases and becomes more available
- According to studies, sprouting legume and seeds can increase their nutritive value by raising what is called "phenolic and flavonoid antioxidant" levels
There are lots of other information about the benefits of sprouting .... but just the taste and texture of sprouts might get you started sprouting.....!
For each seed, grain, legume or nut you should research first the recommendations for each produce, because some of the beans should be cooked after sprouting, as they can be difficult to digest without cooking. They cook a lot faster after sprouting, though, and are better for your digestion. Some grains and nuts will not really form a sprout, but a nice swelling at the germ of the seed (for example Almonds; we always soak almonds 8 hours before eating them in any form) - this way they are even more delicious and good for you.
How to sprout?
Spouting can be done in sprouting trays or sprouting glass, both working great. For the past years I have been sprouting mainly in sprouting bags, which works really fine and is easy (though except for seeds like cress or chia, those I would sprout on a hemp fabric in a plate).
How to sprout in a sprouting bag:
I use 1-2 tablespoon of small seeds and 2-3 tablespoon of beans or larger seeds which I put in my Hemp sprouting bag, close the bag and place it in a bowl with cool, clean water. Leave the closed bag covered in water to soak. Each seed has its own soaking time, so you'll want to check, but most of the seeds I use tend to need 8-12 hours of soaking.
After soaking, swish the bag around in the bowl a bit and hang it. I leave the bowl under the bag when it is hanging to collect the water dripping from the bag. Always water the seeds 2-3 times a day or about every 8 hours or so (depending on the seed) until they are fully germinated (you'll get the feel for this with your particular seeds and the type of fabric you use). To water the seeds either dip the bag with the seeds in a bowl of water for 1-2 minutes or rinse under running water and re-hang.
When the sprouts are as big as you want them and according to the recommended sprouting time for the particular seed, remove the seeds from the bag and put them into a large bowl of cool water. Turn the bag inside out and rinse to get rid of any hulls clinging to the bag, and squeeze the bag as dry as possible.
Swirl the sprouts in the water, breaking up the mass of sprouts and letting the hulls drift away from the sprouts. When you have as many hulls freed as possible, remove the sprouts from the bowl. You can repeat this process as many times as you like to get rid of hulls.
Put the sprouts in a strainer to leave them drip of for 1-2 hours or return the sprouts to the bag. Go outside and swing the bag around and around in big circles - you're using centrifugal force to get as much water out of the sprouts as possible, because putting them away wet will cause them to go bad very quickly.
Put the sprouts in a clean container or place them on a clean fabric towel to keep them from being too moist. You can put them in a windowsill or other spot that gets indirect sunlight for a couple of hours if you want to let them develop a bit of chlorophyll (turn green). Sprouts can keep for weeks in the fridge, just make sure they are not too moist.
In our DIY Knitting Produce Sacks the three yarn balls comes in a handmade Hemp fabric bag which is very useful as a sprouting bag!