What are Sprouts?
Sprouts are very young plants that are prepared by germinating nuts, seeds, grains or legumes until tiny “sprouts” appear. They are HUGELY nutritious, VERY easy to make and a great addition to any salad, smoothie, sandwich or wrap.
Sprouts are made by first soaking nuts, seeds, grains or legumes. After the initial soaking, they are rinsed a couple of times a day for 3-7 days until little shoots appear. The size and length of the sprout shoot will vary depending on the seed used (specific steps on how to make sprouts is included below).What are Microgreens?
Often the term microgreen and sprout are used interchangeably. In my mind, they are the same thing – except microgreens are a little more mature than sprouts, the growing method is different (included below are steps on how to make sprouts – not microgreens, sorry!), and their leaves are more developed. While sprouts are prepared in water and darker conditions, Microgreens (like the Sunflower Sprouts shown here), are planted in soil after the initial soaking/sprouting and are grown until they produce little seedlings with one stem and 2 leaves. These young edible greens are then harvested before the plant gets too mature by cutting the seedlings just above the soil line.
TOP 5 Reasons to Eat Sprouts & Microgreens
Sprouts and microgreens are extremely nutritious and considered a powerhouse of nutrients, proteins and fiber. They are very inexpensive to make and very easy to make at home – so I don’t want to hear any more excuses for not including these fireballs of nutrients in your daily diet. 🙂
TOP 5 REASONS!
- There are 100 times more enzymes in sprouts than uncooked fruits and vegetables.
- The quality of the protein is improved during the soaking and sprouting process and it’s nutritional value is much higher.
- The fiber content increases substantially through sprouting.
- Vitamin content increases by up to 20 times the original value within only a few days of sprouting.
- The minerals, like calcium, magnesium and others are more useable in the body as the sprouting process binds the minerals to the protein.
All in all the nutrients, proteins and fiber in sprouts & microgreens are much MUCH higher and MUCH more easily assimilated by your body, which equals a megga MEGGA dose of fresh, clean, energized goodness for your body.
Uses for Sprouts & Microgreens
Sunflower sprouts (microgreens) are definitely my favorite. They have a nice mild flavor and are a perfect addition to any salad or smoothie. I also like pea shoots which are also mild in flavour. The sprouts I make the most at home are alfalfa, mung, lentil and chickpea sprouts. That said, I also love LOVE making my own sprouts. The one’s I make most often are alfalfa, mung, chickpea and lentil. Chickpea sprouts are great for making raw hummus and they are also a great addition to any salad. All sprouts & microgreens are the perfect addition to any smoothie, salad and they are also great in a wrap or open-face sandwich.
How to Make Sprouts
The approach for making microgreens is different than sprouting, although the early steps are the same. Included below are the steps on how to make sprouts only.
Sprouts are made by first soaking nuts, seeds, grains or legumes and then allowing them to grow for a 3-7 days until little “sprouts” appear.
Not all nuts, seeds, grains and legumes can or should be soaked and/or sprouted – use the Soak + Sprout Chart as a reference for what you can soak/sprout and what the duration should be for the rinsing cycle.
Nuts & seeds have enzyme inhibitors – think of it this way, when a nut/seed falls from the mother plant it is designed to lay dormant, it’s the enzyme inhibitor that keeps the nut/seed dormant – but when (for example) a bird picks up the seed and/or moisture touches the seed/nut, the enzyme inhibitors are released so that the nut/seed is able to grow. Soaking nuts/seeds removes the enzyme inhibitor which decreasing the acidity, the bitterness and makes it much easier to digest. It is for this reason that all nuts & seeds should be soaked before you eat them. Soaking is also the first step to making sprouts as the soaking will release the enzyme inhibitors and allow the germination process to begin.
1. Equipment Needed
Sprouting really doesn’t require much equipment. You will need:
- a jar & lid with holes in it (You can buy a sprouting jar with special lid or you can make your own by using a jar by adding a sprouting lid to your existing masson jars). Make sure your jar is very clean before starting.
- seeds, nuts, grains or legumes (select raw and preferably organic – check out this Soaking & Sprouting Chart)
2. Soak Seed/Nut/Grain/Legume Overnight
This step is pretty simple.
- Add seeds/nut/grain/legume** into jar
- Add water so it’s 1/2 full or about 1 inch above the seed level
- Add cover and let it soak overnight!
- Dishrack to lay jars on an angle to drain (optional: I just rest my jars against the wall and rest on paper towel)
Can’t get much easy-peasier than that.
** the amount added will depend on their size of the nut/seed and the size of your jar. I like to use a 1 litre jar (shown to right) – for small seeds add 1-2 tbsp, for legumes use 1/4-1/2 cup
3. Rinse Twice (or 3 times) Daily – Repeat Daily for 3-7 Days**
Once the seeds have had the initial overnight soak, you then need to rinse the seeds 2 or 3 times a day (2 is fine but an extra rinse is ok). I usually rinse in the morning and then again before dinner.
The key here is to:
- drain water by holding jar upside down.
- rinse really well (to ensure enzyme inhibitors are washed down the sink!)- i.e. add water to the jar, swirl with water to rinse really well, drain – repeat another 1-2 times.
- drain VERY well after the last rinse – this is really important to shake out all the excess water
- once the excess water is removed, shake the jar a bit to ensure the sprouts are not covering the jar opening, then gently tilt the jar on an angle (in a dishrack or lean against the wall with paper towel underneath) so any remaining water drains
- the jar should always be positioned so that moisture can leave the jar and fresh air can enter to circulate, so the screen must be kept unblocked
** Repeat the rinse/drain steps above every day for 3-7 days. The number of days will vary for each seed/nut/grain/legume. Refer to the Soak + Sprout Chart for recommended duration. If you sprout for longer durations than recommended some sprouts may become more bitter and stronger in flavour.
4. Ready to Eat and/or Store
Once the sprouts are ready, you can rinse** and eat right away or you can store them for later consumption.
** For seeds, you way want to hull the seeds (i.e. remove the shells) before consuming/storing. All you do is add the finished sprouts to a big bowl of water, swish the sprouts/water to loosen the hulls/shells from the sprouts. The hulls/shells will float to the top and can be lifted out of the water. You don’t need to do this, it’s really a personal choice. I myself prefer to remove the hulls/shells.
To store, drain well and transfer sprouts to a container that is NOT airtight and store in the fridge – you can top wiht a sheet of paper towel. It’s best to use your sprouts within 3-5 days, although I prefer to eat within a couple of days while they are very fresh.
NOTE: It is possible that bacteria or mold appear at any stage of the process, but it’s less likely if you rinse really well and ensure for proper drainage and circulation through the jar (i.e. don’t block the jar opening) and eat soon after they are completed.
Make Another Batch
Sprouts can be really fun to make – to ensure you always have sprouts available, I will often start a new batch every 2nd or 3rd day, this way I will have a regular stream of sprouts for my smoothies, salads and wraps. Check the Soak + Sprout Chart above and perhaps try something new for some added variety.