Sunday, April 8, 2012
Sprouts - Greens anytime, anywhere!
In my book I didn't mention sprouts as a way to supplement the food you have on hand. Sprouts are also a quick way to have fresh 'greens'. Some sprouts are ready to eat in just a few days.
Sprouts have the usual array of vitamins and minerals, and I could do a google search and find a bunch of nutrition information about them, but I'm going to keep it simple. You can search for more information if you want, but for me, it's enough to know that they're a fresh vegetable, they're organic when I grow them myself, and they have "chlorophyll" in the green of their leaves. They have fiber, being a whole vegetable, and come to think of it, I'm not sure if "vegetable" is the right word, since sprouts are grown from bean seed, alfalfa seed, vegetable seeds like broccoli and radish, and others. Some people consider wheat grass to be a sprout. So we have legumes, vegetables, and grass for sprouting plant families.
Perhaps it would be wise to recommend you grow a variety of sprouts, but I'm guessing we'll have to grow what we can get seed for. I've been buying mine from the bulk bins at the local health food store, which is pretty cheap. A bag that holds a couple cups of seed will grow a lot of sprouts.
I don't know if you can grow sprouts from regular garden seed unless it's seed you've saved yourself and you know it hasn't been treated with anything. There are a lot of things I don't know, and one of the reasons for this blog is so I can learn too. If someone knows more about any of this, please leave a comment on here and share your information with us.
You don't need an official "Sprouter"! They can be grown in a jar, a cup, a bowl, a cake pan, bread pan, or any container! I have done it, so I'm not just repeating something I read or heard. The most primitive sprouting I've done was in a bowl with a dish cloth tossed over the top to keep the seeds from drying out as they sprouted. Just make sure you drain off as much water as you can in a container with a solid bottom so that your plants won't sit in water and rot. Don't take the seeds out and dry the container. You're not trying to get it that dry!
My favorite sprouts are alfalfa sprouts. They got a bad rap last summer because of the Salmonella outbreak, which was linked to certain batches of alfalfa sprouts. Even when you're growing your own sprouts, be sure to wash your hands before handling them. The same is true of any fresh vegetable or fruit you are about to eat.
Be careful about rinsing your sprouts after they're 'finished' and ready to eat. They'll continue to grow and mature past the stage of being tender, sweet, delicious sprouts. When you decide they're the right size, take them out of whatever tray or jar you sprouted them in and keep them in a cool place. A refrigerator is good, but if you don't have one, or the power is off, you can put them in a cool closet or similar place for a few days as you eat them.
You can store them in a plastic bag with the top loosely open, or a cup or bowl with a small plate over the top. The main thing is to keep them from drying out, but they also keep better if it's not an airtight container. It must have something to do with the moisture build-up from the little plants (sprouts).
Don't rinse the sprouts again, once they're done, until you're ready to eat them. I pull out a handful when I want to eat them, and wash them. I shake off the excess water and they're ready to eat.
I eat them just as they are, sometimes as a 'side' with a meal, or add them to a salad, or roll them in a tortilla along with other veggies and/or meat. I would love to hear other ideas for using sprouts, if anyone cares to add them to this.
I used to just rinse the sprout seeds and put them in my sprouter tray, but last year I started soaking them in water first. I measure a Tablespoon of seed and pour it into a cup. Then I cover it with water and let it sit at room temperature for about 8 hours.
My favorite sprouter is this set of stackable trays. They have vent holes staggered around the top. When you set the lid on it has corresponding dips that you can either line up over the vents, or twist the lid so it covers the vent holes. Then you can stack another tray/dish of sprouts on that one. I have enough of these to make 4 trays of sprouts.
In this picture I have drained the water off the seeds after soaking them, and now I've spread them in the sprouter. This is a mixture of beans and seeds, which includes mung beans, alfalfa, radish, and broccoli seeds. It's called a "salad mix" at our health food store.
Now I'm lining up the lid so the vent holes will be open. I'm not sure if I've been doing it the way the manufacturer recommends, but I leave the vent holes open while the seeds are sprouting, and when they're done and ready to eat, I close them. I prefer to take the seeds out of the sprouter when they're done, and store them in another container. I've had them get "gunky" from residual water in the bottom of the sprouter. But sometimes we're eating them so fast we just close the vents and move it to a cool place, and pull out handfuls when we want them, and they're gone in a day or two.
It's two days later and these sprouts are really growing! I water them twice a day, once in the morning around breakfast time, and in the evening before I go to bed. I pour or run water into the tray until it covers the seeds or the bottom part of the sprouts, then tilt the tray and drain off the water. Theoretically I'm supposed to be able to drain it through the holes and the seed husks will flow out, keeping the sprouts in the tray, but it's never worked that way. I just use my hand to hold back the little sprouts.
These are alfalfa sprouts. I got the picture off of google, and it's not a copy-protected picture. I'm guessing these would be about 2 1/2" to 3" tall, based on the ones I grow. I like a lot of kinds of sprouts, but alfalfa sprouts are like candy to me!
I've heard varying information about whether to remove the little seeds that are left, or that they're safe to eat. If anyone wants to weigh in on that, it would be a good topic.
I'm trying to figure out how to change my settings so the comments are always displayed under the posts. Right now you have to click on the word "comments" to make them appear. Please leave your comments anyway, so we all may learn from each other. This is your site too.