Preparing Sprouts



Preparing sprouts for fresh greens

Any whole grain or legume can be sprouted (germinated) into fresh greens. The process of sprouting increases the flavor, palatability, nutrient content, as well as digestibility. Sprouting releases enzymes such as alpha-amylase that break down the starches into more readily digestible sugars.

The sprouting procedure starts with a jar equipped with a mesh top, which can be purchased at a health food store or made by topping a jar with cheesecloth and securing it with a rubber band. The seeds are rinsed, then placed in the jar with three times as much water as seed. An overnight soak in lukewarm water starts the majority of seeds on their way to sprouting, with small seeds needing only four hours and others, particularly seeds with very hard coats, requiring two days. Alfalfa and oat seeds do not need a presoak.Sprouts

After soaking, the water is drained from the seeds and the jar is placed in a warm, dark place, positioned at an angle to let any water drain, and covered with a towel. Then the seeds must be rinsed at least twice daily, sometimes more often, with lukewarm water. Care must be taken to keep the seeds moist but not wet, because dried-out seeds do not sprout, while too much water causes spoilage. The rinsing process must be carried out gently and evenly so the seeds are not ripped from their tender sprouts.

Once the sprouts reach their full height, they are placed in direct sunlight to develop the chlorophyll, which will turn the leaves green within one day. Most sprouts are ready to eat within three to six days after presoaking. To make sprouts more pleasant to eat, the seed hulls can be removed by filling the sink with cold water, dropping in the sprouts, allowing the hulls to float to the surface, and skimming them off with a strainer.

Sprouts must be stored in the refrigerator and rinsed thoroughly before use. The FDA has warned that sprouts, especially alfalfa sprouts, have been responsible for several foodborne illnesses. As a precaution, some sprout preparers soak seeds in a very weak bleach solution (1 teaspoon per gallon of water) for 30 minutes before sprouting, followed by rinsing with clean water.