Sprouting 101
February 29, 2012 7:31 AM   Subscribe

Basics of DIY spouts? I accidentally sprouted yellow peas while over soaking them for a craft with my son (pea and toothpicks to build structures) and popped a few in my mouth. Yum. So I have questions about the basics of sprouting.

I googled and found some sites but they have very expensive beans to sprout and I'm wondering what the difference is. I had a pound bag of yellow peas for 99 cents (US). The sprout site I looked at was about 8 bucks a pound. What's the 7 dollar diff? When you sprout do you usually use just dried seeds like that?

And what about equip? Is there a way to do it without buying the fancy stuff?

Are there any ways to NOT do it safely?

Oh and what else can I sprout that's easily found and not too expensive?

Sprouters, teach me your ways. (these are healthy right? I need to make up for the trader joes cookies I eat for breakfast)
posted by beccaj to Food & Drink (8 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Sprouted lentils are awesome. So are garbanzo/chik peas, and almonds. I don't own a commercial sprouter. I soak for however long the specific legumes require, rinse, then wrap in cheesecloth or a clean dishtowel [that you're willing to sacrifice for sprouting because they get stained] and place in a colander over a bowl. Then, every morning I rinse the colander under cold water for a bit and leave to drain. Unless it's insanely hot/humid out (which might lead to molding before they sprout), i just leave it on a counter top in the kitchen, out of direct light. When sprouted, I throw them in a container in the fridge.
While the guidelines online for what can be eaten sprouted and length of time for soaking/sprouting are very helpful, I don't think this is the kind of thing that needs lots of specialized equipment.
Probably, the beans and legumes on the site you saw for such a high price are artisanal, organic, sorted by hand and dried with baby's breath. AKA, not necessary, but fine if that's your thing.
posted by atomicstone at 7:42 AM on February 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Sprouting is great! You can buy sprouting lids at health food stores, they fit on wide-mouth mason jars and make life a bit easier. They also usually come with instructions.

Sprouts can go bad very rapidly, so try to eat your sprouts within 3-5 days of when they're ready. If your stomach is sensitive to legumes, sprouting can reduce gassiness, but they can still cause stomach upset if consumed in large quantities.

Sprouted lentils may be cooked when the sprout is still short. Sprouting reduces the cooking time, reduces the carbohydrate content (the starch is utilized in the sprouting process as fuel to grow indigestible cellulose) and increases the bio-availability of the protein. Sprouted hummus is delicious and tastes different from regular. You can also make extremely nutritious flourless bread with sprouted grains. (I haven't tried this recipe, but it's just an example of how it works).

If sprouting for salad-type sprouts, on the morning before you plan to consume them, place sprouts in a sunny window for an hour or two, tossing them a few times. This will prompt the development of chlorophyll and they will turn green before your very eyes.

Yes, sprouting seeds online tend to be extremely expensive because they're mostly organic. However, special varieties like radish seeds are harder to find in stores and are well worth buying. You don't need to buy much at a time (sprouts can triple or quadruple in volume or more relative to the volume of seed you start with), and the dry seed will keep for months if stored properly.

Mustard seed is available at many Indian markets or other places which carry bulk spices. These make great spicy sprouts, and also really good microgreens.*

*Microgreens are something else you may want to try. Radish/arugula/mustard seed, when planted in a shallow soil tray or in a special type of cloth, sprouts and turns into a tiny leaflet very quickly. These greens are spicy and fresh without being as sharp as the mature varieties, and they grow very quickly!
posted by overeducated_alligator at 8:30 AM on February 29, 2012

I've successfully sprouted alfalfa seeds on a windowsill using a plastic strawberry carton and damp kitchen roll.
posted by essexjan at 9:04 AM on February 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

I used to do pretty much what atomicstone said above when my kids were little. Mung beans were a favorite. If your water is heavily chlorinated you might want to use distilled water. Just experiment. Buy a handful of various different kinds of beans and seeds and see what you like. You can turn it all into a science experiment with your kid, charting germination times, etc. also, if you expose the little sprouts to daylight they start turning green.
posted by mareli at 9:56 AM on February 29, 2012

I found this
posted by pakora1 at 11:43 AM on February 29, 2012

Best answer: I love growing sprouts! It's like instant gratification gardening. And it can be done very very cheaply.

Usually, I grow clover sprouts (they're a lot like alfalfa sprouts). I put two tablespoons of seeds in a quart mason jar, cover them with water, and cover the jar with cheesecloth or a piece of an old pair of nylons held in place with a rubber band. Soak the seeds overnight, then drain the water out and leave the jar upside down (so extra water can drip out). Rinse the seeds/sprouts twice a day, again leaving the jar upside down to extra water drip out, so they stay a little moist, but aren't sitting in water. You'll see them growing in a day or so; pretty soon they'll be filling up the jar. The sprouts don't need light at first, but putting them on a windowsill for a day before they're done makes them green up. (I also don't rinse the sprouts the last day I'm growing them, so they're a bit drier and store longer.) When you think they're done, put the jar in the fridge. Then eat them!

I bought my clover seeds from Sun Organic Farm (just because they had a wider selection than, say, the grocery store), for about $6 for a 1-pound bag. That is a ton of seeds -- used two tablespoons at a time, they lasted me a couple years and grew quarts and quarts of sprouts.

Microgreens were mentioned above, so speaking of deals: the people who taught me sprouting emphasized that you can buy sunflower seeds for microgreens from the bird food aisle (where they're like $2 for a giant bag) rather than the fancy intended-for-human-consumption kind.

You probably found Sprout People already -- they're my favorite source for sprouting instruction/enthusiasm/experience, though I think their stuff is needlessly expensive.
posted by teditrix at 5:50 PM on February 29, 2012

Best answer: beccaj, I would try your local health food store for seeds and beans for sprouting; they usually have small bags of various kinds for a couple of bucks. Get a couple different types and experiment to see which you like (right now, I'm using a mix my store labels "salad mix for sprouting"). They also should have sprouters, if you want to try that, though the jar-with-cheesecloth-on-top method works just fine.

Yes, sprouts are super-healthy and super-fun to grow. And they're really nice to have this time of year when you're craving fresh, green things.
posted by WorkingMyWayHome at 9:39 AM on March 2, 2012

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