Sprouting introduction– sprout those seeds!

What is sprouting?

Sprouts in this context are NOT what many people would associate with sprouts – Brussel Sprouts. The sprouts we are talking about here are a million miles away from the typical image of those musty, soggy overcooked image that Brussel Sprouts often put into peoples heads. A sprout is the stage of a plants life cycle between being a seed and becoming a plant. A common everyday example of a sprout that can be found in most supermarkets is the bean sprout which is often used in stir-fries. We can set up our own sprouting environment at home for sprouting seeds into sprouts. It is very easy to start sprouting your own seeds, see Happy Juicers more detailed information on growing your own sprouts from seed. There are many different sprouting seeds, nuts and beans that are available to buy such as Mung Beans, Alfafa, Radish, Lentils, Quinoa, and wheat.

The seed can be fooled into sprouting by simulating conditions that are favourable to seed germination; this is done by soaking the seeds in water for a number of hours.

Before a seed, bean or nut has been sprouted it contains enzyme inhibitors; these enzyme inhibitors prevent the seed bean or nut from growing. The unsprouted seeds, beans and nuts when eaten are hard to digest as the enzyme inhibitors hinder our own bodies enzymes from digesting the nut / seed / bean. Sprouting de-activates the enzyme inhibitors present in the seed nut or bean and makes it easier for our body to digest the seed nut or bean. Because sprouting makes it easier for our bodies to digest the food we are able to gain more nutritional value from the sprouted food when compared to the same food in unsprouted form.

Nutritional value of sprouts

A great deal of nutrients are available when a seed sprouts as the sprout must have enough energy and nutrients to transform it from the seed into a baby plant that can then feed itself and be self sufficient. This means that when sprouting occurs the plant is at its nutritional peak. Many believe that weight for weight, sprouts have the highest nutritional content of any food type. Sprouts contain both vitamins, minerals, proteins and fibre, as an example Alfafa sprouts contain iron, magnesium, all 8 of the essential amino-acids, chlorophyll, vitamin A, vitamin B2, vitamin C, vitamin D, fibre and more….

In this day and age of processed and convenience foods it is of great comfort that sprouts do not contain any artificially added chemicals, additives, preservatives, E numbers etc. Sprouts are eaten in their natural form, when a sprout is at its optimal growth point it simply needs to be rinsed in water to make it ready for eating. This means that sprouts are a valuable toxin free food source.

What are the benefits of sprouting your own seeds?

  • Sprouting your own seeds enables us to grow fresh produce that is free from pesticides, herbicides and pests at very little cost.
  • Home sprouting enables you to eat the sprouts at their freshest, tastiest and nutritional peak
  • Sprouts can be grown in your own home using very little space – the term ‘kitchen gardening’ is often associated with sprouting.
  • Sprouts are packed full of essential nutrients
  • Sprouting takes very little time (days rather than months) when compared to growing fruit or vegetables such as sweetcorn or apples.

How can I use the sprouts that I grow?

You can use your sprouts in a number of ways. Once your sprouts are at optimum growth you can harvest them directly from your ‘kitchen garden’, rinse and enjoy them at their freshest and tastiest. You can use sprouts in salads, sandwiches, use in pancakes, spring rolls, stir-fries. You can also use sprouts in soups and dips or simply stir them into pre-cooked pasta or rice.

To obtain maximum nutritional value from your sprouts eat them raw rather than cooked as cooking can destroy the enzymes that are present in the sprouts. Although it is best to eat your sprouts straight from the picking, you can store sprouts for around 2-3 days in the fridge, just place them in a bowl and make sure to rinse and drain them first thing in the morning and last thing at night to prevent mould formation.

Happy Sprouting!