Sprouts are rich in vitamins, minerals, fiber, protein, antioxidants, beneficial enzymes, and phytochemicals. They are grown from seeds, grains, beans, and nuts. Those grown from nuts are usually known as ‘soaks’ and not sprouts. Nowadays, many types of sprouts are available in supermarkets. However, there are some problems associated with such store-bought sprouts. If they are made from treated seeds or grains that are meant for sowing, consumption of such sprouts may cause health problems. While sprouts can be grown from most of the seeds, beans, and grains, some types (like kidney beans) can be toxic. However, most toxic sprouts can be used after cooking, as washing and cooking reduce the toxicity. In case of store-bought sprouts, there will be no guarantee of freshness. So it is always best to grow some sprouts at home, and enjoy their health benefits. You can also save money by growing sprouts on your own.
Growing sprouts at home is really easy, if you know the right method. Choose the seed, grain, or bean that is meant for sprouting. The most commonly used ones are mung bean, chickpeas, clover seeds, fenugreek, alfalfa, adzuki bean, amaranth, annatto seed, anise seed, basil, brown rice, pinto bean, lima bean, buckwheat, canola seed, celery, cilantro, clover, cress, dill, fennel, green lentils, pearl millet, rye, sunflower, wheat berries, etc. Use organic ones, which are not treated with any chemicals. Otherwise, refrain from using those seeds, which are meant for sowing. Even though the basic method of sprouting is the same, it can be done in different ways.
Method I – Grow Sprouts in Jars: For any method of sprouting, soaking is the most important and primary step. You have to clean the seeds and remove the broken ones. Wash the seeds well, and soak them in water for a few minutes. Dirt, dead seeds, husk, etc., will get accumulated on the water surface. Remove these things and wash the seeds again. The seeds have to be soaked for at least six to eight hours. It will be better to keep it soaking overnight. Always remember that the amount of water taken for soaking, must be three to four times the volume of the seeds. Once the seeds get soaked, they expand in size and become soft. Strain the seeds to remove excess water. This can be done by pouring the soaked seeds through a cheese cloth placed on a strainer. Once the water is removed completely, you can transfer the seeds to a clean jar. Otherwise, fold the moist cheesecloth like a pouch, with the seeds inside, and keep the pouch in a bowl. In both cases, you have to cover the opening (of the jar/bowl) with a thin moist cloth. Keep the jar/bowl in a warm, dark place. Let it remain like that for a day. In colder regions, sprouting may take around two to three days. Once the seeds sprout, wash them again, and store in a tight jar. Keep the jar in the refrigerator. If the sprouted seeds are foul-smelling or very slimy, then discard them.
Method II – Grow Sprouts in Trays: For this purpose, you can buy trays from garden supply stores. Alternatively, use a flat dish in your house. Spread a layer of soil on the bottom of the tray. Sprinkle the soaked seeds over the soil. Once done, place four layers of damp newspaper over the seeds, and cover the surface with a clear plastic wrap. Cover the tray with another tray that has to be placed upside down. Keep the tray in a warm place and water lightly (twice a day). Sprouting will take around two to three days. Let the sprouts grow for a few more days, before you harvest them. In the latter case, you can keep the tray on a sunny windowsill (no direct sunlight), so that the sprouts turn green.
Mentioned above are some of the easiest methods for growing sprouts indoors. So grow some sprouts and enjoy their goodness.