Fresh sprouts. There is nothing like them. They are crunchier, sweeter, more vibrant in flavour than anything you can buy on a supermarket shelf. Up until last month I never wondered too much how bean sprouts came about and figured it was too complicated a process for a home cook to undertake. That was until my raw foodie friend Elspeth posted some pictures of her lentil sprouts. When I asked her where she got the seeds from she said they were regular dried supermarket lentils. Oh rly?
Armed with that curiosity I decided to look online for guides to home sprouting, and believe me I found many. Honestly, many of them have instructions that are way too complicated. They almost made me scared to begin. Fortunately I was able to distill them to the bare essentials, and those essentials are what I have been following in the weeks since with great results.
To begin: I soak the required amount of beans in enough water to cover about 2 inches overnight
The next day: I drain them into a colander and put it into a cool, dark cupboard.
And that’s it! Twice a day I rinse them off, go through to get rid of any seeds that haven’t sprouted by the second day, and to remove any loosened skins.
By the 4th day they are ready to get some sunlight. This activates the chlorophyll! A few hours is more than enough.
At this point they are ready to eat, either raw or in a dish of your preference.
The following pics show the above lentils as they progressed.
Lentil sprouts are my favourite sprouts to eat raw, they are especially sweet. However I am now playing around with chickpeas, mung beans and alfalfa seeds. Needless to say my humble little colander is feeling the strain. Don’t get me wrong, if you just need sprouts occasionally a colander is ideal. However, now my mom loves them so much she wants to have them on hand ’round the clock! She also is putting in requests for seeds that are not always on the agenda of my own weekly sprouting needs.
That’s why last week I put in an order for a tri-level Kitchen Crop Sprouter that will allow me to harvest 3 different types of sprouts simultaneously! I’ll write about it in more length once I’ve given it a test run (it arrived yesterday!).
So why would one go through the trouble of sprouting one’s own beans? Well for one the sheer economics. Sprouting my own beans, compared to buying them in the supermarket costs pennies on the dollar. The beans/seeds are easily available from supermarkets and specialty stores and the results are fresher and crispier than any I’ve purchased. Plus there is no wastage as I only sprout what I need, as I need, and the sprouts continue to stay fresh in the fridge for several days if I have any leftover.
The other reason why sprouting one’s own beans makes sense is the sheer nutritional boost that seeds undergo when they are sprouted.
…researchers at the universities of Pennsylvania and Minnesota, Yale and McGill have found that sprouts retain the B-complex vitamins present in the original seed, and show a big jump in Vitamin A and an almost unbelievable amount of Vitamin C over that present in unsprouted seeds. While some nutritionists point out that this high vitamin content is gained at the expense of some protein loss, the figures are impressive: an average 300 percent increase in Vitamin A and a 500 to 600 percent increase in Vitamin C. In addition, in the sprouting process starches are converted to simple sugars, thus making sprouts easily digested.
Not all seeds are suitable for raw consumption or raw sprouting. For a list of suggested seeds (and those to avoid) visit Wikipedia’s entry on Bean Sprouting. Happy Sprouting!