Growing Sprouts Article -
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Growing Sprouts

From wispy strands of alfalfa to the substantial crunch of sunflower, sprouts pack a hefty nutritional punch.

Amazingly, half of a cup of most sprouts contains more vitamin C than five glasses of orange juice! Their incredible vitamin C supply is a major reason for the introduction of sprouts into the Western diet: In the late 1700s, Captain James Cook put his sailors on an anti-scurvy regimen that included lemons, limes, and freshly-grown sprouts. Since they're so easy to cultivate, Cook's crew produced sprouts continuously throughout their voyages, thus sparing the lives of many men who might otherwise have been stricken with scurvy.

Big Nutrition in Little Sprouts

Perhaps more relevant to today's health-conscious cook is the news sprouts are powerful antioxidants that can help prevent cancer, heart disease, osteoporosis, and menopausal symptoms.

  • Alfalfa, clover, soybean, and flax seed sprouts have been shown to be most effective in this capacity.
  • Sprouts are a good source of protein (particularly soybean and wheat sprouts) and B-complex vitamins. They are also very easy to digest.

The Basics

To grow your own sprouts, all you need is a mason-type jar, a piece of cheesecloth or other breathable fabric, and the seeds, beans, grains, or nuts you wish to sprout. If you don't have a mason jar, any other jar will do; just make sure it's clean first. Also, without a mason jar lid, you'll need a rubber band to hold the cheesecloth tight over the jar. Seeds used for sprouting can be found at either a grocery or health food store, or through one of the many sprouting seed retailers online. Some of the most popular plants to sprout include:

    Ready, Set, Grow

    Pour a thin layer your choice of sprout-able into the jar, and cover with several inches of warm water. Cover the mouth of the jar with the cheesecloth and screw the ring from the lid over the fabric. If you're using something other than a mason jar, use the rubber band to seal the cloth over the opening of the jar. Let the seeds soak overnight (or up to 24 hours for large beans, garbanzos, and nuts).

      Daily Care

      In the morning, turn the jar over the sink, letting all of the water drain off. Then fill the jar with fresh water and immediately re-strain, giving the jar a good shake to get as much water out as possible. Repeat the adding water/straining process each morning and evening for the next 4-6 days, or until the sprouts have reached the stage at which you'd like to eat them (generally 1/2 to 3 inches). Then rinse them one last time, shake out as much water as possible, and enjoy!

      • Care Tip: If you start batches of sprouts in three-day intervals, you'll have a continuous supply of fresh, crunchy sprouts on hand.
      • Storage: Store the sprouts in their jar in the refrigerator, and bear in mind that sprouts are quite perishable and need to be eaten within a week. (Which shouldn't be too hard.)

      Note: Eating sprouts--possibly even home-grown ones--has been associated with outbreaks of Salmonella and E. coli. We recommend that children, the elderly, pregnant women, and those with compromised immune systems do not eat sprouts.

        Dec. 1, 2009 11:13 pm
        So why are we going to all this trouble to grow them?
        Feb. 6, 2010 2:07 am this confuses me Big Time!!! I LOVE em/wanted 2 kno how 2 gro em/hav a "comp Immu Sys/N now I don't kno if I shud?...! I've always heard they were so Nutritious 4 U...IF they R so Good 4 U...How dose the Salmonella start if U R using a "Clean" jar? HELP me PLZ!!!
        May 25, 2010 2:17 pm
        I've heard that you are supposed to give the sprout seeds (this has said it on various packages I've bought) a "bleach soak" I'm sure the packaging and retailer you buy the seeds from will tell you the exact ratio of bleach to water, and whether or not this is necessary, but the seeds survive it and it seems to work!
        Oct. 6, 2010 8:01 am
        I have been making sprouts an and off for 40 years. I think the salmonella thing is absurd. Sprouts are healthy and a delicious addition to salads, etc. Are we to be fearful of everything????
        Oct. 23, 2010 7:10 pm
        I am with you RC...I have been making sprouts for 20 years and have had no problems. Clear and sterile jar is how I start...rinse my bleach..rinse every day..simple. Grow as little or as much as you like.
        Feb. 19, 2011 9:41 pm
        Feb. 28, 2011 12:07 pm
        I have been growing sprouts for years! They are healthy, delicious and THE easiest produce to grow. All of my children love them and eat them daily. No bleach rinsing, no worries of sickness. Let's not over react
        Jun. 21, 2011 4:39 am
        can I use lentles that I have in my pantry that I bought to make soup, or do I have to buy special lentles?
        Jun. 26, 2012 6:08 pm
        Bleaching ?? The best thing to do is to put a 'shot-glass' of Hydrogen Peroxide in the jar, shake it around and then rinse thoroughly. Hydrogen Peroxide is much safer than bleach and it is THE BEST disinfectant for household use. This is the active ingredient in all of the teeth whitening products. Save a ton of $$$ - brush with it daily for the whitest teeth; ( do not swallow deliberately ), use regular toothpaste as well for other benefits. GOOGLE: USES FOR HYDROGEN PEROXIDE - Save thousands $$$$$$ in the long run. When salmonella is mentioned in regards to growing sprouts, it is just a disclaimer. People who have experienced it, got it from not following "proper procedures " and ignoring safety warnings for growing it. EXAMPLE: Not rinsing often enough or properly. 'NUFF SAID" !
        Jun. 26, 2012 6:23 pm
        Buying seeds ???? Buy only from Health food stores. All others are likely to have been put through a process or two for various reasons, example: preservatives. The seeds from a health food store will be organically grown and naturally processed for sale. Seeds are not expensive - buying sprouts from a store is a lot more expensive and you don't really know what you are getting, (quality, etc. ). 'NUFF SAID !
        Mar. 21, 2013 4:13 pm
        I add a little citric acid to the rinse water; it helps prevent spoilage and bacterial growth.
        Nov. 1, 2013 6:27 am
        I bought a sprouter kit from William Sonoma (less than $20) and I love it. Super easy to use and produces awesomely good sprouts. The only time I've ever been wary about sprouts is when I've bought them in the store (look for mold on the bottom of the package).
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