How To Sprout Seeds
Sprouts are delicious, ever so versatile and super healthy. It’s easy to sprout all sorts of seed varieties at home. Read on to learn how to sprout seeds…
What are sprouted seeds?
Sprouts are partially germinated seeds: they are the beginnings of a new plant. You can sprout all sorts of seed varieties, including beans and lentils (which are both legumes), nuts and cereal grains. Oh and also seeds! When the seed is hydrated, biochemical reactions start to happen within, and it starts to grow. From the outside you can see the shoot and root growing out of the seed.
Nutrition of sprouted
The seed itself is a storage facility, containing all the nutrients the plant needs for growth. This is why seeds, legumes, nuts and whole grains are so healthful for us. However, the dormant seed has it’s nutrients packaged in such a way as to keep them safe from degradation. For example, minerals such as calcium, zinc and iron tend to be stuck to a molecule called phytate. Phytate is an ‘anti-nutrient’ that holds onto these precious minerals until they are needed by the plant. In fact phytate holds on to these minerals so tightly that even when the seed is put through the extreme environment of our digestive tract, our bodies still struggle to absorb them. That’s why phytate is considered an anti-nutrient: it prevents absorption of actual nutrients. So although seeds may have an impressive nutrient profile, some of those nutrients are poorly absorbed when we eat them.
When seeds are sprouted, however, biochemical changes occur to facilitate growth. Anti-nutrients are broken down, releasing nutrients and making them more bioavailable. Complex macronutrients (starches, proteins and fats) are processed to less complex molecules that are easier for us to digest. The plant may increase its fibre and vitamin content. Overall sprouted seeds probably contain fewer anti-nutrients, more fibre and a higher vitamin content than their un-sprouted counterparts.
I am speaking very broadly here. Different varieties of seeds will undergo different changes when they start to germinate. Plus the amount the plant is allowed to grow will impact the nutrients it contains. For example, dormant broccoli seeds will have a very different nutritional profile to sprouted broccoli seeds, which in turn will be very different to fully grown broccoli.
What to sprout
You can sprout any legumes, nuts, whole grains or seeds so long as they are raw and unprocessed. If they have been heated to increase their shelf life they won’t sprout: they are dead. It’s therefore important to check that the product you buy is OK for sprouting. I buy a sprouting mix from buywholefoodsonline.co.uk.
How to sprout seeds
The easiest way to sprout is to buy a sprouting jar (I have this jar) though it is possible to use a colander.
To start your sprouting adventure, first wash your seeds. Next soak them in water in either a glass or ceramic container (you can use your sprouting jar). The seeds will grow as they hydrate: fill the container no more than 1/3 full with the seeds, and make sure there is plenty of water in there. You want to soak for 8-12hrs.
Next drain the water away. To do this either invert the sprouting jar or pour the seeds into a colander. Give them a quick wash then drain the wash water away. Now allow the seeds to sit at room temperature. This damp environment allows the seeds to germinate.
If using a sprouting jar simply turn it upside down.
If you are using a colander then cover the colander and it’s contents with a cloth.
The seeds need to sit in this damp environment for several days. Whilst they are germinating you will need to wash them twice daily: morning and evening. After a few days they will start to grow tails. When the tails are a few millimetres long your sprouts are ready!
You have a bit of leeway here: although you need to refrigerate or eat them before they grow into mature plants, a day or so either way does no harm.
What to do with your sprouts
You can eat sprouts raw, though I prefer to cook them. Simply boil or sauté for a few minutes until they are soft. Raw or cooked sprouts can be stored in the fridge for a few days, or you can pop them in the freezer for a rainy day.
I often use sprouted beans and seeds to make hummus. For my oil free hummus recipe see here. You can use about 1 cup of sprouted beans and seeds instead of a tin of chickpeas.
You can also add sprouted beans and seeds to most dishes that call for regular legumes. For example add some boiled sprouts to a stir fry (see my stir fry recipe here), or sauté sprouts with vegetables as a side dish (see recipe here).
Free from: gluten, nut, soya, wheat
This is a vegan recipe
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- sproutable seeds incuding beans, lentils, nuts and cereal grains
Wash your sproutable seeds. Then soak them in filtered water for 8-12hrs.
Wash the seeds again and drain away excess water. Leave the seeds in an upside down sprouting jar or covered colander.
Wash the seeds twice daily: morning and evening. Sprouts should be ready in about 3 days (depending on the variety of seeds used).
Store sprouted seeds in the fridge for up to 3 days, or pop them in the freezer.