I thought that it would be a good idea to start new year with something different than another recipe, so I want to encourage you to start sprouting 🙂 I don’t know how about you, but I love plants, it gives me a lot of joy to watch them growing. And what’s great about sprouts is that you can germinate them yourself in couple days, watch them grow and eat them. And then grow another batch again. They are easy to maintain, you just need to stick to the rules, so your small plantation will be able to grow healthy.
Sprouter/germinator works very simple – it is made of trays / containers stacked on top of each other (in our case there are 2 round trays) also the top cover and the bottom tray that collects the water that runs off. Containers have holes through which excess water flows. Water flows through trays, stopping at the surface, and its excess is collected in the container at the bottom. In this way, the effect of a small greenhouse is created. Sprouts should be rinsed two times a day with fresh water, and its excess should be poured out from the bottom tray to prevent mould.
When looking for a sprouter online, I saw various models and very different prices, finally we decided to buy one of the cheapest models with two dishes (the trays can be purchased separately and added if needed, we decided that two are quite enough for us). The trays are quite tall (approx. 4 cm) and the sprouts have plenty of room for growth and good access to light. The only downside I noticed is that very small seed run through the holes in the tray when rinsing and end up in the bottom container, so you loose most of them. The only solution I see is to buy seeds big enough so they won’t go through the holes. Keep it in mind choosing a sprouter.
Sprouting of seeds has been known for a very long time, mainly in the Eastern countries where seedlings are traditionally consumed as an important component of culinary history. Starting from the 1980s, the consumption of sprouted seeds raised popularity also in the Western countries due to the consumer demand for dietetics and exotic healthy foods.
What can sprouts be used for?
Basically for everything: for salads, sandwiches, pizza, as an addition to pasta dishes, for bread spreads, sprouts can be eaten as a snack. They grow quickly, up to a week, depending on the size of the seed. They can be stored in the refrigerator in air tight container for about 2-3 days.
Generally sprouts are eaten raw, but may also be stir-fried or cooked, usually no more than 30 seconds. Some sprouts are easier to digest after heat treatment, e.g. bean sprouts, chickpeas, lentils. Avoid older sprouts or those that are musty-smelling, dark, or slimy-looking. Sprouts – the bean or seed and root – are usually eaten when the root is the length of the soaked seed. Inspect seeds and beans before eating and remove hulls that are still hard or those that are not to your taste requirements–that will come with a bit of taste testing.
The most popular seeds for sprouting are: broccoli, beetroot, onion, mung bean, rocket, white mustard, clover, alfalfa, wheat, radish, watercress, sunflower seeds, lentils and soybeans.
What makes sprouts beneficial for the body?
Germination leads to substantial changes in biochemical composition of whole grains and seeds, among others: triacylglycerols start to be hydrolyzed and saturated/unsaturated fatty acids ratio rises up, the amount of anti-nutritional factors (e.g., phytate, trypsin inhibitor, tannin) decreases significantly, and bioactive compounds such as phenolics, phyrosterols, folates and GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid – this compound has a number of properties that affect muscle building, but also the nervous system – makes it easier to fall asleep, soothes anxiety symptoms, relaxes and calms down) increase. Hence, in sprouted grains almost all nutrients are fully available and various antioxidants occur at higher concentrations, thus providing the base to define sprouts as “functional foods”. Allergic reactions are generally mediated by proteins that act as antibodies. During sprouting, a deep modification of proteins profile occurs, thus potentially reducing the concentration of allergenic storage proteins. Although in some cases the consumption of germinated seeds does not cause an allergic reaction as severe as that associated to raw seeds, sprouts can manifest unexpected cross-reactions in sensitive individuals.
Among many plant species, the sprouts of cruciferous vegetables stand out significantly, with beneficial effects on health, with anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant capacities. In past studies and researches these foods have showed an effect on the normalization of blood glucose levels. Bioactive compounds in cruciferous sprouts are beneficial for the treatment of some metabolic disorders such as diabetes. Also available informations suggests that the bioactive phytochemicals present in these vegetables have a prominent role in the control of the incidence and severity of a number of cardiovascular processes. When it comes to colored flavonoids, broccoli, radishes, cabbages, and kale sprouts are rich in anthocyanins. They control diseases like obesity or diabetes and the possibility of them acting positively on brain function. Apart from broccoli, red radish sprouts contain high concentrations of glucoraphasatin and glucoraphenin contributes to the lowering of oxidative stress in cells.
That’s a germination of radish sprouts – it was nice to see how tiny plants grow out of brown, inconspicuous seeds. The taste of sprouts is like a radish, which is clear and quite spicy. Radish sprouts comes in different varieties and colours. Radish sprouts are usually found raw or lightly cooked, and are often found in salads and sushi, or used as a garnish. They have a large dose of vitamin C and a whole bunch of minerals: magnesium, calcium, phosphorus, iron, zinc, copper … all the good stuff.
Wheatgrass, on the other hand, has a delicate, slightly sweet taste. If in your childhood you sucked the juice from young grass, the taste of wheat is similar. It’s full of immune boosting enzymes, cancer-fighting agents, and a host of important vitamins and minerals.Wheat is rich in B vitamins, vitamins A and E and, like radish, a whole package of minerals.
In order sprouts to benefit you as much as possible, pay attention to:
- soaking and rinsing seeds – this is a step that cannot be ignored, it allows you to remove impurities, fungal spores and bacteria, rinse out toxins and substances harmful to our health irrigation of sprouts allows you to rinse out the remnants of natural toxins, fungal spores and bacteria that may have entered the air
- get rid of seed scales, which are a great breeding ground for microorganisms
- inspect – if you see a sprout that’s getting mouldy remove it quickly before it infects the others
- store seeds properly – dried, weak seeds are more susceptible to disease
- keep the germination trays clean, wash them thoroughly after finishing each germination process, sterilize them occasionally and wash them with vinegar or hydrogen peroxide.
Do not eat sprouts if they are:
- Solanaceous plants (e.g. peppers, tomatoes, potatoes) – they are poisonous
- plants to which you are allergic
- raw: buckwheat, peas, soybeans
Before you start growing and consuming sprouts of a given species, it is worth reading about their properties, cultivation and care. Usually you’ll find all informations on the packaging.
Here’s some basic informations about other the most popular homegrown sprouts:
- Alfalfa sprouts will germinate and grow approximately 3-7 days after seeds have been placed in a warm, humid environment. It’s typically eaten raw and have a mild flavour and a crunchy texture. Alfalfa sprouts are a rich source of vitamins A and C, iron, calcium, protein and dietary fiber.
- Mung bean sprouts are an excellent source of vitamin C, iron, calcium, protein and dietary fiber. They germinate and grow about a week. You probably ate them at least once in your life as they are the most popular sprouts used widely in Asian restaurants.
- Clover sprouts have a mild flavour and mild crunch. They are quite fragile so they are the best raw added to sandwiches and salads. They are rich in vitamins A and C, iron, calcium and protein.
- Broccoli sprouts are mild with a little crunch, typically eaten raw as part of a salad or on sandwiches. Broccoli sprouts are a good source of vitamins A, C, and K, folic acid, and soluble fiber and are particularly sought-after for their high concentration of antioxidants.
I hope this short post encouraged you to start your homegrown sprout plantation, something that will give you some joy and help you to start a year with a healthy step.
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