The other day I was showing a friend of mine how to make my recipe for lentil Marsala soup and I ended up with way too many lentils soaked (I always underestimate how much they’ll grow). A perfect opportunity to sprout!
In Canada, winter is a great time for sprouting (not to say that sprouting isn’t appropriate any time of year). Since local fresh vegetables and fruits are in short supply, why not grow something in your own home? You can’t get much more local than that!
Sprouting is the process of taking seeds (which can be in the form of seeds, nuts, unrefined grains or legumes) and starting them on the active process in which they eventually become plants. And why would you do this (you might be wondering)? Because it’s really, really, really good for you. Really. And it’s easy.
It’s speculated that it was the Chinese who first discovered the wonders of sprouting and that sailors of that continent would sprout and consume seeds on their ships throughout their voyages to prevent scurvy. This is because sprouting seeds actually produces a large quantity of vitamin C (more by weight than an orange). Sprouting also increases the B vitamins present as well as carotenes (precursor to vitamin A, beta carotene, for example). Sprouting is a great way to up the nutrient level of any seeds, grains, nuts or legumes you were going to eat anyway. Making a chili? Why not sprout the kidney beans before throwing them in, turning that chili into a superfood?
Here’s how you do it. You just get a wide mouth mason jar and a screen insert (these are often available at health food stores). If you don’t have these things, you can improvise (I’ve sprouted using nothing but a pint glass and a saucer).
Pour the seed, grain or legume into the jar to no more than half full because the seeds expand considerably. Fill the jar with filtered water and screw the lid on using the screen insert instead of the flat lid insert. Soak for the appropriate amount of time – google your particular seed for the right timing. Overnight is good for most seeds, but larger legumes, like chick peas, may need longer.
After the time has elapsed, dump out the water (you don’t even need to remove the lid if you’ve got the screen in properly). Invert the jar on a dish rack or lean it against something in your sink to angle it on a diagonal and let all the water drip out for 5 – 10 minutes. Place the jar on the counter, right side up and leave it alone for a bit.
At least twice a day, rinse the seeds, grains, nuts or legumes and invert the jar again to let them dry. Different seeds take different amounts of time to sprout but it will probably happen within one to five days. Once sprouted, you just rinse them one final time, replace the screen in the jar with the proper flat lid and eat them or stick them in the fridge for later.
A little piece of advice: while most sprouts are fine to eat raw, others are better cooked. When raw they can irritate the stomach. I find raw sprouted chick peas have the same effect on me, although other people seem fine with them (which is too bad for me because raw hummus is absolutely delicious).
So go on and sprout it up! I say start now and figure out what to do with them in a few days when they’re ready.
About Author: Doug DiPasquale – Holistic Nutritionist and. Trained Chef