My relationship with sprouts has not been an easy one. As a vegetarian, I’m always into trying new vegetables. But me and sprouts never really got along. They were always just a bit too “grassy” for me.
That animosity has slowly begun to change over the past year, thanks in large part to Jimmie John’s #6 Vegetarian sub, which is liberally stuffed with sprouts. I used to pick them all off. And then…I started leaving a few on. And then a few more.
And now? Bring ’em on!
I’ve been buying sprouts at the grocery store. But, I spend $1.65 on them every time. And then yesterday, I had a classic Eureka! moment: I could grow sprouts at home. I’d save money, and have them readily available whenever I wanted them.
Growing sprouts is pretty easy. And the cool part? There are tons of different seeds and beans you can sprout yourself.
The Benefits of Sprouts
Sprouts are loaded with dietary goodness.
For instance, alfalfa sprouts (the kind that are on the Jimmy John’s veggie sub) are loaded with antioxidants . Clover sprouts have tons of isoflavones, which have cancer-fighting properties. Mung bean sprouts are high in fiber, protein, and Vitamin C. And radish sprouts? They’re loaded in vitamin’s C and A, and they have 10 times more calcium than a potato.
Yes, sprouts are good for us.
Types of Sprouts You Can Grow and Eat
The cool thing about sprouts is that there are several different varieties, all with a slightly different flavor.
- Alfalfa sprouts- These are the most common sprout. They have a slightly nutty, grassy flavor.
- Radish sprouts- Just like you might expect…these are spicy!
- Bean sprouts- You’ve likely seen these in the last stir fry dish you got from your local Chinese restaurant. Bean sprouts are commonly used in Asian cooking, and they’re delicious when lightly cooked.
- Onion sprouts- These sprouts give you an oniony taste without the tears.
- Mustard sprouts- Another spicy variety.
- Soybean sprouts- Another nutty sprout that’s really high in protein.
There are more sprout varieties, but you get the picture. When it comes to sprouts, we have choices.
How to Start Sprouting
Sprouting seeds at home is really cheap to get into. All you need is:
- A tall jar (like a mason jar)
- A screen lid (you could even use cheesecloth or pantyhose)
- Sprouting seeds
Step 1: Measure
Before you go to bed, measure out the correct number of seeds you want to start sprouting, usually 2-3 tablespoons. Look for any broken or wilted seeds, or any dirt clods. Pour them into your glass jar, and then cover with them with 2 inches of water.
Put your sprout jar in a warm place (55 to 70 degrees) with access to indirect sunlight.
Step 2: Soak and Rinse
Medium-sized seeds will need to soak 8-12 hours. Larger bean seeds will need to soak for 12-24 hours. This is why it’s best to start at night.
The next morning, attach your screened lid to the jar and drain all the water out. Shake the jar well, and make sure that the old water is entirely out of the jar. Fill the jar back up with water to rinse the seeds, and drain it again.
Tip: This water is full of valuable nutrients. Save it and give it to your houseplants. Or, you can even add it to a fruit shake and drink it yourself.
To make sure the water is completely out of the jar, you can leave it upside down in a shallow dish for the day. Keep in mind that any sprouts that sit in water are going to rot quickly. Standing water is not your friend in the sprouting process.
Step 3: Rinse Again
That evening, you’re going to repeat the process. You’re going to fill up the jar, shake very gently, and then drain it completely.
You’ll do this morning and evening rinse and drain routine for 4-5 days. If it’s summer time, or the air is particularly hot, you’ll need to rinse and drain up to 4 times per day.
Step 4: Harvest
After 4-5 days, you’re ready to harvest your sprouts. Now, different varieties will have different harvest times, so check the package of whatever seeds you’re sprouting.
Then, they’re ready to eat!
Do any of you grow your own sprouts? Have any tips you’d like to share for novice growers like me? If so, please write them in!
(Images courtesy Wikipedia)