EQUIPMENT AND INGREDIENTS
Sprouting is one of the easiest ways to grow fresh vegetables for eating; both in and out of season. While mung bean sprouts have long been familiar in Chinese cooking, alfalfa and other sprouts have become equally well known in recent years. Sprouts can be added to salads, sandwiches, soups and other dishes for both the crunch and the nutrition. Sprouts are bursting with nutrients, and certain vitamins even increase when seeds are sprouted; up to 600 per cent.
Sprouts are economical too, from a single pound of seeds you can produce from six to eight pounds of sprouts. All you have to do is add a little moisture and a little warmth to the seeds, set them in a dark place, then sit back and watch your garden grow in just a few days time.
BASIC SPROUTING EQUIPMENT: All you need to sprout seeds is a jar, some cheesecloth, plastic mesh, or plastic screen to cover the jar, and a rubber band to hold it in place. But you can also sprout seeds on a tray, on damp towels, in a clay flowerpot saucer, or in a thin layer of soil. You may also want to try the ready made sprouters that are available in large department and health food stores. For example, you can buy mesh trays or sprouting lids made of plastic mesh that fit on standard one quart canning jars. It's a good idea to try various methods to find ones that are most convenient and work best for you.
BASIC INGREDIENTS: You can sprout all kinds of seeds, legumes, and grains. Try wheat, rye, alfalfa, mung beans, chick peas, soybeans, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, or any of the other sprouting seeds, grains, and vegetables. Only one thing is essential; when buying seeds for sprouting, ALWAYS check to be sure you're getting live, untreated seed. Seeds that are intended to grow crops are specially treated to make them resistant to insects and plant diseases; and you shouldn't eat sprouts started from these chemically treated seeds.
You also can't sprout seeds that have been heat treated, because even relatively low temperatures kill the seeds, leaving them edible but no longer capable of growth. For this reason, if you're growing beans, peas, or other vegetables for sprouting, be sure to use the drying method recommended for this purpose. Seeds dried by blanching, chilling, and heating will not sprout.
The only other ingredient you'll need for sprouting is water. Some experts recommend that you let city water (which may be high in chlorine) sit for a day or two before you use it, in order to let the chlorine dissipate into the air. When sprouting seeds, use lukewarm or room temperature water, rather than cold or hot.
BASIC SPROUTING TECHNIQUES: Sprouting can be done in a jar, on a tray, on a towel, in a clay saucer, or in a thin layer of soil. Each method works best for certain kinds of seeds. Although the basic steps are quite similar from one method to the next, the times and temperatures for sprouting will vary due to temperature and humidity variations in your home. That means you've got to check sprouts frequently. After your first couple of batches, you'll have a good idea how long it takes to produce the flavor you prefer in sprouts.
Many sprouters also like to save the water drained from sprouts for use in soups or sauces, or for watering house plants.
Source: Vegetable Gardening Encyclopedia; typos by Dorothy Flatman 1995 Submitted By DOROTHY FLATMAN On 11-29-95
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