Sprouts are high in vitamins but they can also provide protein, minerals, and other goodies. Their fresh aliveness provides a nutrition that you can get no other way. There are people who become devoted sprout addicts! You don’t have to go that far, but I’m rapidly heading that way.
It’s really quite easy to grow sprouts. You can use wide-mouth canning jars, with screening cut to size to fit inside the outer jar lid. You can do the same thing with any fairly wide-mouth jar, a rubber band, and screening, cheesecloth, an old stocking, or some other covering that will allow air and water (but not tiny seeds) to pass freely.
Put a tablespoon of seeds into the jar, and fill it with water to cover the seeds. Don’t use seeds meant for planting if there is any chance they have been treated with chemicals, as is commonly done by the non-organic businesses.
Put the bottle in a fairly dark, reasonably warm place, for overnight or for about 8 hours if your impulse to sprout struck in the morning. Many things I have read suggest that the whole sprouting process needs to be warm, but alfalfa, broccoli, and sunflower sprouts were very accommodating in our motor home in cold weather, where nothing was toasty. They just grew more slowly. Some other things may be more demanding about their temperature.
After about 8 hours, pour out the excess water, give the sprouts a small drink of fresh water, and set the bottle on its side, tilted somewhat downward so the water can drain out. I often put mine on a dish drainer. Somewhere near a sink is good, because you should remember to give them a drink at least twice a day. I must admit that I sometimes forget… usually the sprouts are still okay but occasionally I have to throw out a batch and start over. The seeds like light as they grow, but they don’t need direct sunlight.
Eating the Sprouts
Within a day (for sunflower seeds) or several days (for most seeds), the seeds are ready to eat. Eat them! People say that they will stay fresh in the refrigerator for up to a week, but ours never last that long. If you do refrigerate them, be sure they are quite dry before you put the jar in the fridge; otherwise, the ones in the bottom of the jar will go slimy.
If you wish, you can rinse the seeds in a large bowl of water and many hulls will float off and others will stay at the bottom, and then you can put the sprouts back in the jar. I like to do this with alfalfa after 3 or 4 days, but I don’t do it with anything else.
Add raw sprouts to salads. We use them as topping for eggs, casseroles, soups, sandwiches, whatever.
Beans that are sprouted are then usually cooked, though mung beans, lentils, and some others are good raw. They will take less time to cook than before they were sprouted – sometimes a lot less time – and they become more digestible.
You may have heard that there can be some toxins in alfalfa sprouts. From what I have read, the dangers have been rather overblown. Be sure to use clean water and to wash your jars and screens or cloths between batches. It’s a good idea to let them dry too, though I don’t always bother.
Wheat, sunflower seeds, and other grains can be grown in trays of soil for fresh winter greens.
Seed will last several years, especially if stored in cool, dark places. My very favorite seed to sprout is broccoli, and make mine organic: