|Miyuki enjoying the sunset view from the peak of a sand dune.|
Sprouts are little green wonders of the world. You can grow them on your kitchen windowsill or bench, and within a few days or a week, with minimal effort, harvest a live food, full of enzymes and energising nutrients. In addition to being a supreme source of nutrition, they assist the body to regenerate and heal from dis-ease.
You can sprout almost any seed, although some are harder, and more 'high-maintenance' than others. So far I have successfully experimented with alfalfa, lentils (green, red and blue), chickpeas, mung beans, and most recently sunflower greens. I have also 'sprouted' nuts and seeds like almonds, cashews, pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds, which essentially just means soaking them in water for a few hours or overnight to inactivate the anti-nutrients they start out with, making them easier to digest.
Equipment required for sprouting is very simple. I have used both hemp sprouting bags and glass jars covered with cheesecloth for my sprouts, and a shallow planter box full of topsoil from my vegie garden for my sunflower greens. The main thing to remember is your sprouting seeds will need rinsing and draining twice daily (up to three times in hotter weather), and indoor greens like sunflower will need a light misting with water twice daily. And to buy organic seeds that are meant for sprouting.
|My Sunflower Greens ready for harvest.|
There are many great internet sites dedicated to the art of sprouting. One such site is Isabell Shipard's site "Herbs Are Special". Here you will find more detailed instructions on sprouting.
So, why am I talking about sprouts anyway? Partly because I am just so excited to see these little green wonders growing so magically on my kitchen windowsill, my toddler loves to watch them grow (checking on them many times a day!), and because I had my sunflower greens with dinner last night and they were sooo tasty (Hubby even enjoyed them)! But more importantly, because sprouts are an incredibly economic, earth-friendly, health-promoting addition to the diet of both people and pets. And the snails can't get them!
|Minced sprouts, fruit and vegies (red cabbage, celery, apple, carrot) for our pets.|
Fresh sprouts will provide your pet with living enzymes (to aid digestion and other metabolic processes in the body), anti-oxidants (to protect the cells that make up the body), essential fatty acids (to build cell walls and improve skin health), chlorophyll (which cleanses the blood), protein (to maintain muscle), vitamins, minerals, and amazing life-force! Sprouts will benefit both pets already on a balanced home-made diet and pets eating a less inspiring diet of commercial pet food.
I hope you are inspired to attempt to sprout something, or at least buy a pack of alfalfa sprouts at the grocery store and add them to your pet's meals. I highly recommend the former option. What a joy to know we will be surrounded by green, living, edible plants, growing in my kitchen, right throughWinter!
This morning I made my first ever trip to our local Bunning's and bought two large seedling trays and a mini-greenhouse so I can grow lots and lots of indoor greens. My sunflower greens were so good, but were gone in a day! My toddler even delighted in eating them, as she had been nurturing them all week!
It seems a few readers have already been inspired to get sprouting, so I thought I would share some more detailed tips on where to start.
As mentioned above, I have successfully sprouted lentils, chickpeas, mung beans, alfalfa and sunflower greens. Lentil sprouts are probably the easiest to start with, quick-growing, difficult to spoil, and a great addition to any green salad.
The basics of sprouting:
- Obtain organic sprouting seeds and keep them in a sealed container in a cool place (Green Harvest's online store has a great supply of sprouting seeds
- Get some sprouting equipment - I have used both hemp sprouting bags (which you can also buy online from Green Harvest ) and glass jars (old large instant coffee jars work well - I found lots at the local op-shop) with mesh tops (cheesecloth and a rubber band works well)
- Measure out your seed, remembering that once soaked and growing they will take up a lot more space than they do as seeds - I usually sprout a few tablespoons of alfalfa, or 1/2 to 1 cup of lentils (I use a mix of green, blue and whole red lentils, but green alone is fine)
- Inspect your seed and remove any cracked seeds, stones, sticks, etc
- Rinse larger seeds in a colander, or skip straight to soaking for smaller seeds like alfalfa
- Soak seeds overnight (generally - some seeds like buckwheat require shorter soak times) in twice as much water as there is seed, in a glass jar or bowl, covered with a tea towel
- Rinse seeds the following morning and set up to drain thoroughly in whatever 'sprouting environment' you choose
- Ensure air circulates in the sprouter, as your sprouts need to breathe
- Keep them in a dark area of the kitchen (like the pantry) until the little sprout tails are visible, then place them in indirect sunlight
- Continue to rinse and drain at least twice daily, three times a day or more in hot, humid weather
- They are ready to eat when the sprout tails are about as long as the seed is big.
- Ensure they are thoroughly dry before storing in a sealed, preferably glass container, in the fridge. Use them within a few days for optimum freshness.
A delicious recipe for your lentil sprouts:
1 cup of lentil sprouts, 1-2 tablespoons capers (salted and rinsed, not the vinegar ones), as many olives as you like, some diced tomato, 1 clove of minced garlic, 1/2 cup of chopped parsley, juice of 1 lemon, tossed and served on a bed of mixed greens such as rocket, baby spinach, chicory, endive, lettuce, or whatever is growing in your garden.
I shall have to remember to take a photo of this salad next time I make it. It's more of a summer salad given the ingredients, but is very tasty! You could make it more 'wintery' by using more of the warming greens like rocket and chicory, and replacing the parsley with a winter herb like oregano, leaving out the tomatoes, and maybe including some finely sliced fennel (my new favourite vegetable!). Enjoy!!