The Nutritional Benefits of Sprouting can’t be beat!
Sprouting is a fast and easy way to add nutritious foods that are full of vitamins, minerals, and enzymes to your diet. Growing your own sprouts, either in jars or seeds is rewarding and can be done anytime of the year! Listen to the Hunt Harvest Health Podcast #25 to hear Dr. Hillary talk more about the why and how’s of sprouting!
Researchers and our evolutionary ancestors both figured out that plant life is the most powerful type of food for harnessing health. Plants know how to capture the solar energy of the sun and mix it with elements of air and water, and then utilize the minerals absorbed from the earth (soil) to create a perfect food for our blood. Chlorophyll in plants is made up of approximately the same elements from which red blood cells are constructed, thus making it an ideal food medicine. Chlorophyll cleanses, heals, and builds the body cells. It decreases anemia, reduces blood pressure, helps decrease atherosclerosis, improves arthritis, and aids in the movement of food through the intestines (so you can poop!!) Chlorophyll is an important element in eating plant foods regularly and in great quantity. Sprouting is a fast, easy, and nutritious way to do this!
Sprouted foods are rich in protein, providing all 8 essential amino acids, and for those who don’t eat meat, can be a good source of daily protein! The great part about sprouted proteins is that they are predigested and broken down into amino acids that we can easily absorb. Many protein foods are hard on digestion especially in this culture, as we don’t have healthy digestive tracts. Eating sprouts daily can give you the essential amino acids you need without the digestive burden, and are especially beneficial to those working to heal their digestive complaints.
The many nutrients in plant foods can be increased by 10-20% when sprouted! Vitamins such as C, B, E, Folate, and other essential nutrients explode in sprouts and can give you a vitamin and mineral rich food to eat! Refer to HHH podcast on sprouting to hear more about this. Nature is our the best teacher, as sprouting is the most nutritious stage of providing life for a new crop.
Children love sprouts!!! Sprouts are full of enzymes for digesting and have a high level of simple sugars which make them sweeter than greens! Greens are bitter, and children don’t develop this taste bud till later, so sweet sprouts is perfect way to include much needed greens in their diet!(Watch out though, some like broccoli or radish can be spicy!!!)
Also growing sprouts with your child is great fun, and another way to teach them the lifelong lessons of healthy eating and where their food comes from! If you are a big kid who just hates greens and bitters, start eating sprouts and sprouted foods yourself! (which I hope you do after going through all this!!)
Here are a few need to know facts before you get started:
Almost any seed, bean, or grain can be sprouted.
Alfalfa, broccoli, kale, clover, peas, and sunflower seeds make the hardiest and substantial green sprouts for salads, sandwiches.
Wheat can be grown into grass for juicing.
Oats, beans, corn, and lentils are good to sprout and then grind into flours for dehydrated/baked breads, crackers, and nutritious tortillas.
Sprouting helps make grains, seeds, and legumes easier to digest, decreases gas, and makes the protein content of the seed more bioavailable.
Sprouting can be done all year round, as long as you have warmth, and light.
The sprouting chart below shows days ready in the jar sprouting only. Seeds that will require soil for finished growth, will be in soil for another 5-7 days. (Sunflower, peas, wheatgrass, etc)
We have made it easy for you to get everything you need shipped right to your door by having all equipment, kits, and even soil delivered to your house via Amazon. Shopping with our Amazon links at huntharveshealth.com/products helps to support the HHH podcast and our website!
The Sthealthy Equipment
This all depends on how much money you want to spend. The first time you start, depending on what you want, can be an investment. We tend to go with the cheaper route, but really once you have everything, continued investment is seeds and soil (if you have to even buy that!) You can make it fancier, less messy depending on the style or kits.
- Wide mouth mason jars, 32 oz.
Growing trays - for seeds that need to be put in soil.
Seeds, beans, grain - buy non-GMO, organic, and/or heirloom. The seeds we use mose are on the sprouting chart, with the ones in bold being the seeds we buy most.
Well drained, nutrient rich starting soil - use potting soil for vegetables if you don’t have access to quality soil. (The soil quality is very important!!!!- Bad or poorly drained soil with “infect” seeds and likely grow nothing but mold.)
Filtered or spring water. Do not use distilled!
Sprouting Systems to make it no fuss
Seed Sprouter Trays - has all the directions and can grow many trays of sprouts at once.
These are good for small seeds that do not require soil- alfalfa, clover, broccoli, kale, and other sandwich mixes and can be used again and again!
Sprouter Kits with added seeds, jars, and instructions. (basically everything above but in a kit.) These can be a good way to start and see if you like sprouting. They do not include trays though for continued sprouting of peas and sunflower seeds for example.
Microgreen sprouting kits- It’s hit or miss with these, and they can be expensive. A starter kit is a good way to go here.
Step 1: Sprouting in jars
Many of the seeds in the chart will sprout in a jar or sprouting trays and be ready within 5 days- without soil. Other seeds in the chart above will require another 5-7 days in soil before the harvest. Refer to the chart above.
Soaking: Soaking seeds is simple. Add seeds to wide mouth jar, rinse once with water and then drain. Next add water about ½ way up jar, apply a layer of cheesecloth, then a rubber band to secure. Set jars in a warm, dark cupboard, or on counter overnight covered with a towel.
Draining: After seeds have soaked for adequate time, pour out water through cheesecloth. Rinse seeds with fresh water, and drain again. Set the jars upside down on dish dryer at a 45 degree angle. Make sure the seeds are only covering a small portion of the cheesecloth so the seeds can get air. Then cover all jars and keep in a dim-dark environment.
Rinsing: Rinse and drain well via the seed type and it’s rinsing requirements per day in the chart. Make sure they are drained well, get enough air, and don’t sit in any water, as this will cause mold and spoilage. Keep your sprouting seeds moist.
After 3-5 days of sprouting, open sprouts such as mung, alfalfa etc to sunlight to develop chlorophyll.
Step 2: Sprouting in Soil (Not all sprouts need soil- refer to chart)
- Sunflower, buckwheat, peas, and wheatgrass will need to grown in soil after their sprouting time.
After adequate days in jar, prepare your soil trays.
Take growing trays and add a one inch layer of soil. Make a trough around the soil.
Lightly water the soil or spray so it is moist. Do not make soupy!
Take sprouts and add to top of soil making sure they do not overlap- you want it to look like a thick carpet.
On top of this layer now add a moist layer of newspaper or cardboard, and then another soil tray. This is to help keep the moisture in.
Stacking the trays on top of each other adds pressure to the sprouts which will make them root.
Put them in dark warm place and check each day for progress.
On the 4th day, unstack and remove paper/cardboard and set in sun or under grow lamp. Water this day, but don’t completely soak soil so as not to mold. Water each day for the next 2-3 days.
Usually around the 7th day the greens will be at their peak.
Cut sprouts at the base, rinse off and enjoy!
Wheatgrass can be cut at the base and juiced. (you will need a special juicer for this)
Compost dirt mixture and start a new batch! Very good soil may be able to do another harvest, otherwise use a new start of soil for your next sprouts!
What could go wrong?
There are a few things that could go wrong with sprouting, which is why it’s important to follow directions, or buy a kit that walks you through everything. In most cases it is so easy, and once you do it a few times, it will become second nature.
- Good seeds make a healthy sprout. Non GMO or organic is the best way.
If you see bad seeds pull them out before starting- cracked, dry- and after soaking you have seeds that don’t sink or absorb water, remove after the soaking process.
Healthy soil makes a sprout grow, and retains the nutrition. Don’t skimp on soil or use soil that is full of chemicals etc. Make sure the soil also had adequate peat for good drainage. A wet soil = moldy seeds.
Don’t forget to rinse AND drain adequately, keep jar mouth open to air, and don’t over water.
Adequate heat and light are important. Mold can get into seeds and cause you to lose a crop, so taking care of your environment such as the right amount of heat, and light when appropriate is important. If you are doing this in the winter, consider investing in a heating pad and grow light so seeds can germinate, grow, and they don’t mold. Also, a grow light can be used 24/7 if need be, so it improves crop frequency.
If they stink at any stage, get rid of them!!!! Your nose is your best barometer!!!! Even is they smell "weird", don't eat them.
Make sure to refrigerate sprouts after harvest, and don't make totally air tight- they need a little air. They should last for about a week after harvest.
There are so many recipes for using your sprouts! Check out some of our favorite cookbooks, or just do what we do- experiment! We use our dehydrator quite a bit when making sprouted grain breads and crackers, so think about investing in one if you don’t have one! If you want to grow Wheatgrass and then juice for it’s amazing nutrition, invest in a wheatgrass juicer.
Now get sprouting!!