Saturday, February 23, 2008

A Brief Overview on How to Sprout, Part 1, Sprouting Methods

By Thomas E. Billings

This is the first in a series of six articles on sprouting.

Obtain seed for sprouting. Store in bug-proof containers, away from extreme heat/cold. Seed should be viable, and, to extent possible, free of chemicals.
Basic steps in sprouting are:
measure out appropriate amount of seed, visually inspect and remove stones, sticks, weed seed, broken seeds, etc.
rinse seed (if seed is small and clean, can usually skip this rinse)
soak seed in water for appropriate time
rinse soaked seed, put in sprouting environment for appropriate time
service seeds (rinse) in sprouting environment as needed
when ready, rinse seeds. Store in refrigerator, in sprouting environment or in other suitable container until ready to use. If not used within 12 hours, seeds should be serviced (rinsed) every 24 hours in refrigerator. Best to eat as soon as possible, as freshness is what makes sprouts special!
Jars and Cloth: Two Suggested Sprouting Methods
Jars: use wide-mouth, glass canning jars, available at many hardware stores. You will need screen lids - cut pieces of different (plastic) mesh screens, or buy some of the special plastic screen lids designed for sprouting. Sprouting in jars is quite easy: simply put seed in jar, add soak water, put lid on. When soak is over, invert jar and drain water, then rinse again. Then prop jar up at 45 degree angle for water to drain. Keep out of direct sunlight. Rinse seed in jar 2-3 times per day until ready, always keeping it angled for drainage.

Cloth: soak seed in flat-bottom containers, in shallow water. When soak done, empty seed into strainer and rinse. Then take flat-bottom bowl or saucer, line bottom with wet 100% cotton washcloth, spread seed on wet cloth. Then take 2nd wet cloth and put on top of seed, or, if bottom washcloth is big enough, fold over wet seeds. Can add additional water to washcloths 12 hours later by a) sprinkling on top, or b) if very dry, remove seed from cloth, rinse, re-wet cloth, put seed back between wet cloths. Cloths used should be 100% cotton (terrycloth) or linen, used exclusively for sprouting, and of light colors. Cheap cotton washcloths (and cheap plastic bowls) work well and will last a long time.

Comparison: Jar vs. Cloth Methods
Jar method is more versatile; can grow greens in the jar (e.g., 6-8 day old alfalfa greens), and the jar is less likely to mold than cloth for sprouts that require more than 2 days. However, the jar method needs a convenient drainage system (otherwise mold can develop). The cloth method can withstand some direct sunlight (direct sunlight in early stages of sprouting can cook the seed in jars), and needs no drainage system. The methods require roughly the same time, though 2nd service of cloth is very fast. Almonds, buckwheat give better results in cloth.

Other Methods of Sprouting:

Plastic tube - variation on jar method; opens at both ends - easier to remove long sprouts like greens from tube than from jar.
Sprouting bags - cotton or linen; also plastic mesh. Soak seed in bag in water, then hang up inside plastic bag (forms a little greenhouse).
Trays: very good for growing greens. Might need drainage system.
Clay saucer: used for mucilaginous seeds like flax, psyllium, etc.
Commercial sprouters: wide variety available. Often fairly expensive; most don't work as well as cloth/jar methods!
What is the best time/length to eat sprouts?
Ultimately you will answer this question by experimenting - growing sprouts and eating them at different ages/lengths. My preference is to eat sprouts (except almonds, pumpkin seeds) when the growing root is, on average, the length of the soaked seed. Almonds and pumpkin seeds are discussed below.

A note on times: the sprouting times given below are based on cloth and/or jar method, and reflect an average time. The soaking times can be increased or decreased somewhat (except for buckwheat), with little or limited impact on the results. If you are using a different method, especially one of the commercial sprouting units, the times here will not apply and you will have to monitor your sprouts to decide when they are ready.

I found this article at It's published on the blog with permission.

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