Continuing the sprouting series, today we’re discussing what you need to sprout. In order to grow sprouts, you’ll need a couple of things. Well, actually three things. So here they are–the three things you need to get started with sprouts:
1. Sprouting seeds. You can get these at your local health food store or online. You don’t want to use garden grade seed as it may have been treated and isn’t meant to be consumed before it’s grown into a mature plant. So make sure your seeds are produced for sprouting and not just scooped out of the bulk bin at your local garden center.
Sprouting seeds come in two basic categories: vegetable seeds (like alfalfa, radish, clover, broccoli, fenugreek, etc.) and legumes/grains (chickpeas, mung beans, wheat, kamut, lentils, etc.). In general, the vegetable varieties will take a little longer to grow because those are the ones you want to grow long and leaf out. The legumes/grains can be ready to eat within a couple of days as they are most often sprouted just until the “tail” starts to show although some times are sprouted longer (like bean sprouts for stir fry or growing wheatgrass). You can also sprout some nuts like sunflower seed, hazelnuts, and almonds.
You don’t want to sprout tomato, potato, paprika, aubergine, eggplant, or rhubarb as they can be poisonous. Stick with a good supplier of sprouting seeds and this won’t be an issue.
2. You’ll also need some type of sprouter. There are many varieties and brands of sprouters, but they generally fall within a few different “types”. We’ll go into more detail on each of these in upcoming posts.
Tray sprouters are great for sprouting anything really, but are particularly nice for the long sprouts like alfalfa, fenugreek, clover, etc. as the tray configuration lets them grow nice and straight and pretty. There are a lot of different tray sprouters on the market. Look for one that you can do more than one batch in so you can have sprouts maturing at different times and don’t have to wait for your first batch to finish (which can take up to a week) before starting a second batch. I use the Sprout Master trays and love them.
Jar sprouters are as simple and inexpensive as they come. These can be as easy to acquire as pulling out a quart mason jar from your storage and strapping some type of mesh over the top (fabric, screening, etc.). There are companies that make mesh strainer lids and some that make a whole sprouting jar setup. I just use a jar with some vinyl screen material from the hardware store over the opening. Cheap and easy. You can grow any kind of sprout in the jar, but I find I want to rinse more often as they don’t get quite as good of air circulation as the tray sprouters. We’ll probably hit on this again in the upcoming posts.
Hemp bag sprouters are something I’ve just recently run across. The idea with a hemp sprout bag is that the sprouts are kept moist by the fabric as they grow inside the bag. They’re supposed to be easy to use and portable. We’ll be testing this method out as well.
A sprouter keeps the seeds moist enough to sprout without having them so wet that they grow bacteria or mold. It is possible to grow sprouts with just some damp cloth, but it is much easier to keep them clean and contained and grow a good volume of sprouts with some type of sprouter.
3. The last thing you’ll need is Water. The water from your tap is fine. If you want to use filtered or other special water, go ahead. I just use the water from my sink. You’ll need to give your sprouts a rinsing at least twice a day, so allot enough water for the task. Usually this is a non-issue, but in a survival situation, you’ll want to make sure you have nice clean water to do the rinsing. The rinse water could then be used for other purposes including drinking after rinsing the seeds if water is short.
That’s it. Seeds, a sprouter, and some water. Simple.
And now just for fun and to show you how easy sprouting can be, here’s a real life story of growing sprouts without even trying!
Once there was a mom (okay, it was me) who was happily sewing in a bedroom while her two young children (about ages 4 and 2) were happily playing in the kitchen. Water was running, but the mom was really having a nice time sewing and the children were giggling and squealing together. What could possibly be going wrong? (sew, sew, sew, giggle, giggle, giggle) Well, the mom finished the little project and went to check on her children and when she stepped into the kitchen she realized she should have checked on those children a bit earlier. They had plugged up both sinks and run water until it overflowed and flooded the kitchen with standing water on the floor. Then they had found an open #10 can of wheat and thrown handfuls in the air as “fireworks”. Oh my, it was not a happy time anymore. She used every towel in the house to mop up the kitchen floor, water, wheat, and all. The whole bin of wet towels got taken to the bathroom and set in the tub to be dealt with later while she took care of the traumatized children. After all, they were just having a bit of fun, right? Why would their mom be so upset?
Well, as you can imagine, by the time I felt like dealing with those towels it was the next afternoon and as I pulled the towels out of the basket, what should I find but lots of little sprouted wheat grains! I will tell you that I was quite tempted to eat them because I love sprouted wheat, but didn’t because I knew the state of my kitchen floor before the flood. But that’s how easy sprouting is. You can do it on accident with nothing but a kitchen flood and some “fireworks”!