Sprouting: Waste-free nutrition during the lockdown
If long queues and the increased potential for infection is preventing you from getting your regular supply of fresh foods, then sprouting is the fastest way to get your hands on super fresh nutrients during the lockdown. The best part is that legumes and beans can be scooped up from your local grocer’s packaging-free isle and can be stored in containers, thus no plastic waste needs to be generated from start to end!
Sprouting is the process of germination whereby seeds soaked in water, eventually bloom into a raw, edible source of food. Otherwise known as ‘living food’, the nutrients of the legumes are amplified, ensuring a super nutritious addition to any meal, even when other fresh options are not available! Another benefit of sprouting is that it can be done indoors, so absolutely no need for a garden. As most sprouts take only 4-5 days to mature, you can literally see them growing before your eyes, which in itself is a delight to behold!
What you need to get started
A 1-litre wide-mouthed jar
A piece of cheesecloth or mesh
An elastic band
Some beans/ seeds/ legumes from your storage
A counter or service at which your jar/container can be placed at an angle (I use my dish drying rack)
And a little bit of love and sunlight!
Complete sprouting kits (which also make for fabulous gifts) are available from Faithful to Nature
You can sprout just about anything!
You can sprout a wide variety of seeds, beans and legumes.
While alfalfa is our personal favourite, you can also sprout with chickpeas, broccoli seeds, lentils, mung beans, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, onion seeds and many more. In fact, popcorn kernels will even begin to sprout mielies, which once taken route can be planted into your garden!
Sprouts to avoid
Some sprouts are just hard to ‘get right’. Chia seeds, flax seeds and other mucilaginous seeds create sticky goo.
Another one to be avoided are Red kidney beans, which contain a toxin which causes nausea, diarrhoea and even vomiting if the sprouts are not boiled for at least 10 minutes before eating.
The ‘how to’…
While spouting is super quick and easy, it is important that the right technique is followed:
- Cover the base of a wide jar with seeds/legumes/grains. I usually only use two tablespoons at a time to ensure space for them to grow.
- Rinse the grains/seeds/legumes well and fill the jar with ample water. Leave to soak overnight in a dark/shaded area or cupboard.
- Next day: skim off and remove any floating grains or random bits.
- Firmly secure a cheesecloth/ mesh/ gauze over the mouth of the jar/ lid with an elastic band. Pour all the water out through the cheesecloth/gauze. Once done add fresh running water, rinse and repeat.
- Place the jar upside (or at an angle) on a drainable surface such as a drying rack, so that the water will continue to drain rather than accumulate (as this causes rot).
- Repeat the rinsing process twice a day until sprouting has occurred (which takes about 4-5 days).
- Dry completely and then store in the fridge. Consume within 3-4 days.
Is it safe to spout?
The association with sprouting and illness like salmonella or e.coli is not unheard of. Due to the warm, moist conditions required for germination, the risk of cross-contamination in sprouting is high and can cause illness. In order to prevent bacteria from forming it is essential to keep hands/ jars/ equipment clean at all times. Matured spouts should be refrigerated and consumed within 3-4 days of being ready.
The use of organic seeds ensures ‘sprout-ability’ and the highest nutrient content. If seeds are irradiated (which is often the case with non-organic seeds), it is likely that they never sprout.
if you like this page be sure to read our blog on Regrowing food from scraps
For an on-line Tutorial by Tasty