The groundhog has seen his shadow, and so have I. The ruby cans of spaghetti sauce and dark frozen greens dwindle as I crave that toothsome crunch that only fresh in-season vegetables provide. Before I surrender to the winter blues, I remember two small bags tucked out of reach on the top shelf of the kitchen cupboard. How could I have forgotten sprouting seeds? Sprouts will deliver that pop of wholesomeness, the antidote to the remaining weeks of winter.
Sprouts are germinated seeds, grains, or legumes. Sprouting is the most basic transformation of latent to live energy with only water, air, and light. When seeds begin to germinate, the starches are converted into natural sugars, and the protein becomes available amino acids that are easily digested and absorbed into the body. Sprouts are living enzymes, providing maximum nutritional benefits that promote a healthy digestive system.
High in nutritional value, but low in cost and time, sprouts are an easy way to spice up your diet. Supplies are basic: a quart size wide-mouthed Mason jar, sprouting lids, and seeds. Sprouting lids come as a 3-piece set with screens of varying mesh sizes for the different stages of germination. Sprouting seeds can be purchased at your local natural food stores or at Sproutpeople, an extensive website covering all your sprouting needs. Most seeds and grains can be sprouted, but be aware of the dangers of legumes. Legumes contain a toxin called lectin that can cause severe gastro-intestinal distress (acute poisoning) in some people.
You will be shocked at the ease of the process. Soak seeds for 6-8 hours in 4 parts water to 1 part seed. Typically, the ratio will be 2 tablespoons of seeds to ¼ cup of warm (not hot) water. Drain the soak water. Rinse sprouts 2-3 times a day with cool water, swirling the water around the jar. Turn the jar upside down above a sink and shake vigorously. Then invert the jar at a propped angle to drain any remaining liquid. The hardest part will be remembering to rinse, but it is a forgivable mistake.
The germinating seeds will grow through varying stages. Start with the finest mesh lid. Within a couple days, small tails will begin to form. That is a good indicator to upsize. Now is the time to start your next round of sprouts with the available fine mesh lid. As the seeds awake from dormancy, they erupt into a brilliant green and start filling the jar. At this point, change to the largest lid and be patient. Although this is an edible stage, let the jar be filled with a bountiful harvest. Once the sprouts have achieved maturity, they are best kept in the refrigerator and eaten within the week. That is, if you can resist eating them.
Sprouts can be eaten raw, added into juices and smoothies, or as toppings on salads, sandwiches, soups, eggs, pizza, and practically anything else. Let your imagination go wild: grind sprouts to make bread, hummus or even a chocolate almond torte.
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