Firstly, I will spout about my first sprouted achievement: lentils. Ta da!
Secondly, I should admit to the fact that I do not have a living garden. If anything, I have a brown thumb. That is, I kill plants. My plant killage is completely unintentional and is as often as not the result of too much love. Yes, sometimes I love plants to death. Not so with sprouts, as it turns out.
My foray into sprouting started on Wednesday 3 March, following my recently renewed vigour around raw food and my discovery of dry lentils in my pantry. I had a vague idea about how to sprout them and I was up for a foodly experiment. It was a proud moment when my little babies grew tails. I could hear and see the new growth as it occurred and I yearned to learn (and sprout) more.
In the process of googling, I discovered you can sprout just about any seed, grain or legume — including fenugreek [via Growing Sprouts For Your Health]. So I sprouted some fenugreek; the taste was sweet and mildly spicy. I highly recommend fenugreek sprouts for crunch and flavour.
The benefits of sprouted seeds and legumes are well documented. They are high in antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, fibre, flavonoids, protein, and chlorophyll (if the sprouts are green). In short, they are incredibly rich in nutrients and enzymes.
How to sprout. The international network yields many excellent sprouting methods. I made up my own methodology, which worked out lovely-ly. Here is the blow-by-blow account of how I sprouted lentils:
- Soak the lentils for 2 days. Wash a cup of lentils in a strainer with cold water. Tap water is fine. Place the lentils in a bowl and top them up with cold water, ensuring there is about twice as much water as there are lentils in the bowl, then cover the bowl and leave on your benchtop > after 24 hours, strain the lentils and wash them with fresh cold water, then cover with the same ratio of fresh cold water again.
- Envelop the lentils in damp paper towel for 2 days. After your 2 days of soaking, strain the lentils and wash them with fresh cold water [again!], then find a large tray or plate and cover it with a double-layer of paper towel. Wet this with some cold water until it is quite damp, and spread the lentils evenly over the damp paper towel. Cover the lentils with another double-layer of damp paper towel. Add extra water (approx. every few hours) over the next day as you don’t want the paper towel to dry out > 24 hours later, you should notice that your lentils have tails! Wash the sprouts in a strainer, and discard the paper towel, then envelop in fresh, damp paper towel.
- The finished product. Four days after your sprouting process began, your sprouts should have tails that are ~2cm long and they may also have little green shoots [note that chlorophyll is awesome for health, but it comes at the expense of vitamin B2]. Wash them and they are ready to eat. Yum yum.
Sprouts can be stored in the fridge for up to two weeks – although I would rewash the sprouts just before you use them. Washing throughout the sprouting process is really important for combatting mould.
Learning: I tried to sprout quinoa after reading about how easy it was on In The Raw’s post of 29 April 2009. Sprouts in 12 hours? Surely that was too good to be true. And it was, for me at least.
My quinoa didn’t sprout. Why? As the lentils and fenugreek sprouted perfectly, I have a theory… Following a little more googling, I discovered that many grains are pasteurised. Because the quinoa in my local supermarkets comes from outside of Australia, I suspect that the grains are heat treated to ensure no nasties are brought into the country.
The safety of pasteurisation and impact on food integrity is something I have to investigate further – and I could be connecting the wrong synapses in the midst of my very basic research. Do you have a better explanation to offer?
How to use sprouts. You can add them to any of the salads on a very foodly diary, stir them through or sprinkle over a pasta dish when it is ready to serve, add them to sandwiches, eat them by themselves…and the list goes on. They taste infinitely better than shop-bought sprouts and I feel a strong sense of achievement at finally being able to grow something all by myself.