Sprouts are just what they sound like, little baby versions of a plant. They make an excellent alternative to lettuce, and are packed full of nutrients and have very few calories due to high water content. Some sprouts, such as broccoli sprouts can actually contain twenty times the amount of phytochemicals as mature broccoli.
Sprouts will generally have higher vitamin, protein, fiber and essential fatty acid content than either the seed or the mature form. They will also have higher amounts of beneficial enzymes.
Below I will show you how easy and fun it is to grow your own sprouts. I will also teach you about safe handling and preparation of sprouts. This is something your kids will love because, unlike those tomato seeds they planted back in the spring, you only have to wait a few days for harvest!
Growing Your Own
Now this is the kit I bought to grow the sprouts, along with a few additional bags of seeds that I bought. Total cost was around $20. You don’t really need a special kit, just a jar with some cheesecloth covering the opening fastened with a rubber band would work too, this kit just makes it really easy to keep the sprouts rinsed and drained.
The seeds are quite cheap, even for organic. I spend two dollars for a little plastic container of mung bean sprouts at the local grocery store, In this article we will grow twice what comes in one of those little containers for about 25 cents.
What you get with this kit is two trays like this with lids. They are just plastic baskets with tiny holes all throughout to allow water out and air in. I suspect a trip to Home Depot might turn up something like this but much cheaper. Kind of reminds me of the filter basket from my parent’s old pool.
To start off the process doesn’t require much! For each basket you want approximately 1/4 cup of seeds if you are doing larger bean sprouts, and a few tablespoons of seeds if you are doing smaller sprouts such as alfalfa, clover or broccoli.
The seeds go into a couple of bowl, then simply add warm (slightly above room temperature) water and wait about eight hours. The seeds will expand in size several times their original, so you need to account for that when choosing the size of the container and amount of water you add.
Here we see the seeds after eight hours of soaking, they are now ready for the next step.
We now pour the soaking seeds into the tray over the sink, and rinse them for approximately one minute to help remove any remaining dirt or bacteria.
Once the seeds are thoroughly rinsed, spread them out in an even layer across the tray.
The lids now go over the tray, and the tray gets put somewhere warm out of direct sunlight. The darker the location you grow them, the less color that will be in the sprouts (and also less nutrients), however do not place them in direct sunlight or they will certainly dry out and die.
A quick peek at the alfalfa seeds before they guy put away. You can stack the trays on top of each other, You probably want to put a plate or pan underneath them to catch any little bit of water that drips out.
Now we need to make sure that approximately 3-4 times a day that we take the trays over to the sink and rinse them for another minute or so, let the excess water drain, then put them back to grow some more.
Here we are rinsing the beans at the beginning of day two. Here are the mung beans near the end of day two. We can now see all the beans are split open and starting to send out little shoots.
Day three has arrived, and the sprouts are starting to grow in bulk, they have nearly doubled in size since last night. Roots have begun to protrude from the bottom, just brush those off with your fingers when you are rinsing them. The alfalfa sprouts are finally starting to come to life here. At the end of day 3, they are starting to look delicious.