I’m a closet sprouter. No, I don’t sprout in a closet (my dishrack of a dishwasher, actually…), but I just don’t tell a lot of people that my preferred source of protein comes from seeds that I let soak and dry and soak and dry until little tendrils pop out of them and start curling like a pig’s tail. They take a few days but I never feel bloated or sick from eating too many of them, I don’t have to worry about using them up in a few days like animal protein or fish, and I like watching them grow. Oh, and they’re cheap! I used to think lentils and beans were the greatest gifts to mankind but what with the difficulty to digest them, I changed my mind and went back to fish. When I realized that fish is very impractical when cooking for one – getting to the store, buying the fish (price and selection), getting it home in good condition (car-less), and using it within a few days – I knew I needed to find another way. I also tried nuts as my major protein source for awhile, soaking and dehydrating them, and then freezing them to keep them fresh. But they’re relatively high in fat and not satisfying, not to mention that the soaking takes out a lot of the flavour (the oils that become deliciously aromatic when you toast them).
Which lead to me sprouts. I attended a sprouting workshop at Concordia’s sustainability Fair and took home my own mason jar (of which I had many already for canning) and my own mesh screen with which to replace the lid (of which I had none). You can also use a fine mesh sieve, cheesecloth, or even pantyhose (so I’ve heard), but those are a little DIY (read: finicky) for my tastes.
How to Sprout:
1. Put 2 tbsp of your seeds in your jar (250mL, 500mL or 1L are all fine since the mouth is the same diameter. You can use regular or wide-mouth jars), top the jar with the mesh and screw on the lid.
2. Fill with water and let soak for 8 hours.
3. Rinse the seeds a few times and let drain as much as possible.
4. Place the jar upside down on an angle to let air through (a dish rack or more complicated stacking system if you’re into LEGO…or engineering, I suppose, but aren’t those synonymous?)
5. rinse in the morning and at night for 4-5 days, or until you see some green for small seeds or a tail for larger seeds
6. For sprouted small seeds, place them in a large bowl of water and skim off the seed husks that will float to the surface. Let dry (don’t use a paper towel or they’ll stick and you’ll end up licking them off the paper. Not that I’ve ever done this…)
7. Store in the fridge for up to a week
There are a few things you should know, though…the seeds can go moldy pretty easily if they’re not draining properly. That’s why the jar has to be on an angle. And when you transfer them to the fridge if they’re not completely dry you could end up with little mold puffs. Basically, if it looks moldy, don’t eat it. If the seeds seem a little damp, set them on a paper towel in a container.I know I just told you not to use a paper towel to dry them and now I’m saying store them with a paper towel, but it’s the lesser of two evils (mold vs. licking a few seeds).
So I was getting pretty good at this sprouting method, doing everything from buckwheat and quinoa to chickpeas, mung beans and a Mumm’s Organic Sprout mix of alfalfa, fenugreek, and mustard and all sorts of taste seeds. And then I was gifted a sprouter. A real one! Biosta. Two levels and the promise of so many more sprouts than I could do in a single jar. I read some reviews of it online and while some people had complaints about seeds getting stuck in the trenches of the sprouter, being too wet, and going moldy, many were very positive. I already was gifted some alfalfa and broccoli seeds so I decided to start with those.
Not a good plan, it turned out. The seeds were so small they did get stuck. The way the sprouter works is there are rows for the seeds and then a basin directly below that keeps the seeds damp but not wet. the water slowly drips down to the second tier of the sprouter, and then down to the bottom where it lives and kind of humidifies the whole environment (damp, but not soaking). You don’t need to soak the seeds for 8 hours (which I don’t really understand, but know it works), and you don’t need to change the water as often (only every 3 or 4 days, which is all the time they usually take to sprout anyway. Except I don’t think they sprout as quickly this way, so I dumped and refilled the water once or twice over the course of the 4 days I left the seeds in there).
I couldn’t get them out and cleaning the sprouter was a nuisance that involved a knife and a lot of banging. After that experience I decided to stick to large seeds and beans to sprout – ones that would sit on top of the trays and not fall through the cracks. I’ve done two batches of chickpeas now and I very happy with the results. You have to remember to not overfill the trays since the chickpeas expand (it’s kind of like popcorn, but with tails…), and since some sprout at different speeds according to how much water they touch or absorb from the air, I’ve been harvesting them little by little. But I love it. I walk into the kitchen and see this lime green stacked science project “uncooking” my food. No rinsing, no hastle.
SO much easier than vermicomposting, and there’s no worms involved…
For now, I’m sticking to doing the small seeds in the dishwasher (in a jar with a mesh lid, draining in the turned off dishwasher, that is…).
If you’ve got questions please let me know! I’m new to this but I’m loving it. And I can also point you to people who have much more experience than I do.