Sprouting is the practice of germinating seeds. The shoots of germinated seeds are then to be eaten raw in salads and sandwiches or cooked in vegetable dishes, soups, stews, casseroles or stirfry. They are an excellent source of vitamins, minerals and proteins.
The most common types of seeds used for sprouting include: pulses (alfalfa, clover, fenugreek, lentil, pea, chickpea, mung bean and soybean), cereals (oat, wheat, corn, rice, barley and rye), pseudocereals (quinoa, amaranth and buckwheat), oilseeds (sesame, sunflower, almond, hazelnut, linseed, peanut), brassicas (broccoli, cabbage, watercress, mustard, mizuna, radish, and daikon, rocket, tatsoi, turnip), umbelliferous vegetables, used more as microgreens than sprouts (carrot, celery, fennel, parsley), allium (onion, leek, green onion), other vegetables and herbs (spinach, lettuce, milk thistle, lemon grass).
When growing edible sprouts at home, make sure to buy only seeds that are labeled for sprouting. Seed intended for sowing may be treated with chemical dressings which can be harmful if eaten. You can find seeds for sprouting in health food stores, some grocery stores and garden centers.
There are several ways to sprout seeds, but the most common is the method called soak-rinse-drain. The germination process takes a few days and can be easily done at home. You will need a glass jar, a screw-top ring and some cheesecloch cut to the size of the screw-top ring. If you do not have a screw-top ring, just cut the cheesecloch larger and secure it over the rim of the jar with a rubberband. Choose the seeds you want to sprout and start the process.
Thoroughly clean the jar, place the seeds you want to sprout in the bottom of the jar and cover the jar with the cheesecloch securing it in place. You will need different amount of seeds depending on what type of seeds you want to sprout. Also the time for seeds to sprout will vary according to the type of seeds you use.
Rinse the seeds with cold water and then drain, the cheesecloch will prevent the seeds from washing away. Add lukewarm water in the jar until the volume occupied by the water will be twice the volume of the seeds. Soak the seeds for 12 to 24 hours, depending on the seeds, living them at room temperature.
After soaking, drain off the water and rinse the seeds with lukewarm water then drain them thoroughly. Keep the jar at room temperature, in a dark place. Lay the jar on its side to distribute the seeds more evenly.
Keep rinsing the seeds 2-4 times a day with water at room temperature until the sprouts will have the desired length. Always make sure to drain off any excess water from the jar or else the seeds will ferment and spoil. This process will take 2 to 5 days, depending on the type of seeds you use. If you let them longer, they will begin to develop leaves. These are known as baby-greens. A popular bay-green is sunflower after 7–10 days.
When the sprouts are ready to be consumed, rinse them once again thoroughly. If you want to remove the seeds husks, just place the sprouts in a pan of water and stir gently, the husks will start to float at the surface and then you can collect and throw them.
Sprouts can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. Place them in a sealed bag or a closed jar and check them from time to time. If you want to freeze the sprouts, blanch them for 3 minutes then cool them quickly in ice water. Drain and pack them in freezer bags.