Sprouts: The Garden-less Green

Although the world is recovering from the pandemic, people have become keener on their health, and diets are becoming nutrient-rich to a certain extent. Despite how fresh and organic grocer items are, you can never be sure about their purity.

If you are just as superstitious about getting your leafy vegetables from a grocery store or it is an off-season, sprouts are the way forward for you. These are nutrient-rich and inexpensive packets of vitamins and minerals you can grow from the comfort of your home. Growing sprouts can be a great way of enhancing the nutritious value of your food supply.

If the introduction has intrigued you into growing sprouts in your home, you might want to know more about them.

What are Sprouts?

Lentil
Germinated lentil isolated on a white background

Sprouts are seeds that germinate without soil. Some seeds, especially vegetables, are packed with sufficient energy that helps them germinate small roots even leaves before being sown in the ground. They can be grown on your kitchen counter, given it has some amount of water.

Cool and chilly weather provides optimum conditions for sprout germination and growth. The sprouted roots and leaves can be cooked or eaten raw as vegetables. Sprout leaves work best in place of lettuce and broccoli, carrying just the same nutritional value.  

Benefits of Sprouts

Sprouts are a cheaper substitute for other leafy vegetables, providing more nutrition in less quantity. Moreover, they are also loaded with various health benefits:

  • Sprouts are loaded with active enzymes that help digest and control stomach acidity.
  • Sprouts contain cancer-free agents that actively fight against breast and colon cancerous cells.
  • Broccoli sprouts are efficient against high blood pressure, risk of stroke, and cardiovascular diseases.
  • Sprouts help in reducing arthritis, allergies, rheumatoid, and asthma.

Guide to Growing Sprouts at Home

The main highlight about sprouts, apart from their high nutritional value, is that they can grow anywhere given the right conditions. Sprouts require little to no input or care compared to other vegetables. And above all, they can grow without soil. You don’t need to have a backyard or plant pots to grow a sprout colony at home.

We have prepared a comprehensive guide that will facilitate you through the process from start to finish.

Product
Visual
Where to Buy
Gskyer EQ 80900 Telescope, German Technology Telescope,Starwatcher Refractors
Sprouting Jar Strainer Lid - Fits Wide Mouth Jars - For Growing Sprouts & Other Uses
4 Oz - Handy Pantry 5 Part Salad Sprout Mix - Organic Non-GMO Mixed Seeds - Organic Broccoli Sprouting Seeds

Getting the Right Equipment

Sprouting requires simple tools and equipment you can easily procure from your nearest grocery shop or an online store. Some main items include;

A wide-mouthed, quart-size container. They come in various sizes, shapes, and styles, from simple build-in sieves to multi-tier setups. Something like this Gskyer EQ 80900 Telescope would work out just fine. However, you might not need a specialized mason jar if you are only starting. 

– A seed sprouting lid like sprouting Jar Strainer Lid in case you are using a mason jar. You can also go simple and easy by fastening a cheesecloth to the jar instead.

– Sprouting Seeds. Out of the extensive variety of seeds, choose one that fits your needs. In our case, we used a 5 Lb Bulk Handy Pantry 5 Part Salad Sprout Mix for sprouting.

Choose the Right Sprouting Seeds

Generally speaking; all seeds can sprout given the optimum conditions. However, not every sprout is meal-friendly. In other words, some sprouts are not as beneficial or tasteful to eat like others, so you should be careful while choosing them.

Seeds that are found in nurseries or garden centers are meant for sowing. Such seeds are layered with fungicides and therefore are not safe for consumption. It is vital to get certified organic seeds that are considered safe for sprouting. These seeds are purified from any pathogens or fungicides.

If you are out shopping in a grocery store, look for seeds that are labeled as microgreens seeds. Microgreen seeds have a higher germination rate compared to non-sprouting seeds. You should also check if the seeds are tagged as ‘sproutable,’ ‘organic,’ or ‘non-GMO – not genetically modified.

Some commonly used sprouting seeds with high nutritional value are;

Sprout Type Benefit
Alfalfa  Antioxidant
Broccoli  Reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease
Clover  Helps fight cancer
Radish  High in vitamin C
Bean  Rich source of omega-3 and 6, fiber and protein

How to Sprout Seeds?

Sprouted Lentil Salad
Sprouted Lentil salad served in a bowl for lunch

While sprouting seeds, make sure you keep the quantity under check. A few tablespoons of seeds will be enough to produce an ample supply of sprouts for breakfast and lunch combined. Not to mention, sprouts grow double or triple in size of the seed, but it depends on the type of seed you are sprouting. Although, quinoa is an exception as the sprouts stay the same size as the seed.

If you are sprouting more than one type of seed at once, combine smaller seeds like alfalfa or clover with larger seeds such as lentils. Here’s a step-by-step procedure of sprouting:

  • Pour 1 or 2 tablespoons of rinsed seeds into a bowl of water and let them soak for 12-24 hours.
  • Spread the sprouted leaves into your mason jar evenly. Avoid placing them on top of each other. Put your lid on and rinse twice.
  • Place the jar on its side, on your kitchen counter, away from direct sunlight.
  • Rinse the seeds/sprouts 2-3 times per day to prevent rotting. Be careful not to leave any standing water in the jar. If you are sprouting sunflower seeds, make sure to rinse them more time in a day as they get slimy otherwise.
  • When your jar is full, place it on the windowsill for a few hours to let the sprouts gain some extra color. Continue the rinse and drain procedure after 8 – 12 hours every day until they grow to the desired length.
  •  You can eat them fresh from the jar or store them in your fridge. Sprouts will keep fresh and alive for about a week at the right temperature.

Safety Concerns about Sprouts

News about contaminated sprouts being served in restaurants and sold in grocery stores is not all fake. Like any other organic plant or vegetable, sprouts aren’t safe from bacteria. However, bacteria mostly grow on commercially sprouted seeds, with fertilizers being the primary cause. 

The USDA says, “Like any fresh produce that is consumed raw or lightly cooked, sprouts carry a risk of food-borne illness.  Unlike other fresh produce, beans and seeds need humid and warm conditions to sprout and grow.  These conditions are also ideal for the growth of bacteria.” 

To reduce the risk of spreading disease when growing your sprouts, you should:

  • Always use certified organic sprouting seeds that are labeled “pathogen-free.”
  • Use cool water for rinsing.
  • Be sure that you are draining all excess water every time you rinse your sprouts
  • Rinse them in cool water before eating
  • Keep your sprouts in the fridge after they have sprouted.

FAQs: Sprouts: The Garden-less Green

1. How long does it take for seeds to grow?

Given the appropriate conditions for growth, sprouts will start to bloom and turn green within 3 – 5 days.

2. Are home-grown sprouts safe to consume?

Home-grown sprouts are perfectly safe for consumption. In fact, sprouts grown at home carry no chances of having bacterial infection compared to those you buy commercially. Not to mention, food that is grown in front of your eyes from reliable sources provides you better peace of mind.

3. Is sunlight necessary for sprouting?

Sunlight is not essential to the growth of sprouts as cold and chilly weather favors more to its upbringing. In fact, direct or excessive heat can harm or diminish the sprout growth making it unfit for consumption.

Conclusion

Sprouts are considered the powerhouse of the entire leafy vegetable family. The nutrition-rich and multi-vitamin substance can effectively contribute to your food supply. Fortunately, the mineral-laden sprouts don’t come at a hefty cost; instead, they are super cheap and can be grown in your kitchen with the need of roil. Grow your salad and sandwich supplies at home and skip the trip to the grocery store.