Sprouts and microgreens are SO beneficial because they have, pound for pound, the largest amount of nutrients of any food. They are a virtual explosion of life!! :) As Dr. Michael Greger puts it, “It’s like gardening on steroids!” It really is too. No need to wait for weeks or even months to pick your produce. Within a few days it's ready. Now THAT'S my kind of gardening! :) There really is no excuse for not growing your own. No garden is needed. Only a clean jar, a sprouting tray or sprouting bag. :)
Mung bean sprouts
Sprouts and microgreens are a tremendous source of antioxidants, vitamin A, B vitamins, vitamin E, calcium, potassium, magnesium, iron, selenium, and zinc & some sprouts are also good sources of protein. They are also delicious and can turn a salad into a nutritious meal.
Sprouts.....microgreens....What's the difference?
Put very simply:
Sprouts grow a little shoot and microgreens grow roots and proper leaves.
You eat the whole sprout, but if the microgreens are grown on soil, then you cut them at soil level. If the microgreens are grown in a jar, then you can eat the whole thing.
Sprouts don't need light to grow.
Microgreens do need light after a few days, in order to produce chlorophyll.
Sprouts grow quickly; anything from 2 days to 5.
Microgreens (depending on which ones you're growing) take longer, anything from 6 to 14 days.
Microgreens are more nutritious than sprouts.
Some seeds, such as lentils and chickpeas can be eaten both as sprouts and microgreens. If you let a soaked lentil sprout, it will grow a little shoot. It will be a 'sprout' and you can then eat the whole thing, lentil and shoot. If however, you plant this soaked and sprouted lentil on some soil, it will grow roots and produce proper leaves. It will then be a 'microgreen'. You harvest these little greens by cutting them close to the soil, therefore not eating the legume or root.
Sprouts sometimes get bad publicity. This is because they can harbour harmful bacteria, such as Salmonella and E.coli. Luckily I've never experienced any problems with my sprouts. I think it might be down to the fact that I'm diligent when it comes to rinsing. If I'm soaking during the day, I change the soaking water sometimes more than once. If I soak overnight I try to change the water after 15 minutes (if I can wait) and then again first thing next morning. Once the sprouts have started their sprouting journey they get rinsed at least twice a day and when they're ready to be eaten I wash them again, this time in a water/vinegar solution. So as you can see, there's a lot of rinsing going on! :)
You can sprout legumes, grains, pseudo-grains (quinoa) and seeds and the procedure is basically the same:
Wash the legumes/seeds and leave them to soak in a glass jar of plenty of water for a short while, then throw away the first soaking water, rinse and soak again. (Soaking times vary, depending on what you are soaking. Generally, I leave lentils, mung beans and clover to soak about 10 hours.)
Day 1 - Rinse, drain + Resting time to sprout
Night 1 - Rinse, drain + Resting time to sprout
Day 2 - Rinse, drain + Resting time to sprout
Night 2 - Rinse, drain + Resting time to sprout
The keywords here are RINSE and DRAIN. Sprouting times vary, depending on what you are sprouting. Mung beans can be ready within 48 hours.
Wheat (for wheatgrass)
Black sesame seeds
These are usually, but not always, grown on soil. You can also grow them on trays without soil, on a non-soil base such as hydroponic growing pads, coconut coir, moist kitchen paper (unbleached) and some in a jar. I grow mainly radish and clover in jars as they always seem to grow well. Other seeds, such as rocket and broccoli don't fair as well in jars as they seem to become smelly and unpleasant - definitely not what you want. I've noticed that when you grow microgreens on soil (even just 1-2 cm of soil) they do far better than on unbleached kitchen paper; they have something for their roots to grab onto and they aren't at so much risk of drying out. Plus they get nutrition from the soil.
The seeds for microgreens have different soaking times. Some need to be soaked overnight, some just for 10 minutes, and some don't need to be soaked at all.
I'll be updating with more info on microgreens soon, so stay tuned!
In the meantime, here are some pics of various microgreens, some grown in jars (radish and clover) and the others on soil.
More info on how to grow each microgreen coming soon!
If you're just starting out.....
If you’re new to sprouting, start off with mung beans. You simply can’t go wrong with them & they are so quick to grow too, so there's not much waiting involved and there's little risk of forgetting to rinse them!
How to sprout mung beans
Wash the beans well, discarding any tiny stones you might find. Dentists are expensive!
Put the clean beans in a glass jar & cover them with cold water. If possible, throw away the initial soaking water after a short while, rinse and then soak again. The beans will grow considerably in size, so make sure there’s plenty of water.
Leave them to soak for about 10-12 hours, or all day or all night. Don’t skimp on this step, the dormant beans need time to awaken and activate.
Discard the soaking water & rinse the beans several times. It’s as if they’ve been sitting in their dirty bath water all night, so rinse them well. They must start their journey clean and fresh!
Put the beans back into the clean jar and cover it with a piece of cheesecloth or something breathable. (Even a piece of foil with holes in it) Most sprouting jars come with a mesh lid.
Rinse & drain well 2-3 times a day.
Within 2-3 days* they are ready to eat!
*Depending on the temperature. The warmer it is, the faster the sprouts will grow.
Wash, rinse & soak
Rinse again & drain well
Put the drained beans in a jar & cover with a breathable lid
Delicious & nutritious sprouts are ready within 2 - 3 days!
Tips for successful sprouting:
Keep your sprouting containers clean. Between sprouting sessions it is always important to wash them well. Hot soapy water should do the trick.
Start off with just no more than ¼ cup of mung beans. It’s better to make a new batch frequently than one large batch that will go off before you’ve managed to eat them all! ¼ cup of dry beans will fill a mason jar when sprouted!
Air circulation is important for healthy sprouts. They need to breathe, so don’t shut them away in a cupboard or close the sprouting jar with a lid that shuts out the air. If you haven't got a proper sprouting jar and lid with holes, you can use a regular jar and cover with a piece of cheesecloth. If you haven't got cheesecloth, just cover the jar with a piece of kitchen foil and make some little holes in it with a sharp knife.
Rinse, rinse and rinse again.
Always drain your sprouts well between rinses. Soggy beans and seeds don’t grow well.
When the tails start going brown, that means you’ve left them too long. Personally, I prefer them around 48 hours of sprouting.
If they smell even remotely unpleasant, throw them away. Fresh sprouts should not smell bad. Some seeds, such as broccoli and red cabbage, have strong sulphur smell (as you would expect from cruciferous plants), but they shouldn't smell 'off' or offensive in any way.
When the sprouts are ready, let them sit for a couple of minutes in a bowl of cold water with a splash of apple cider vinegar, then rinse well and spin dry in a tight-mesh salad spinner. Your sprouts will stay fresh longer if you store them correctly.
Personally, I grow what I can eat without having to store them in the fridge. I'd rather have 3 jars on the go started at different times, that way when I finish one jar, I have another one almost ready. If you do store them, make sure you store your sprouts as dry as possible, in the fridge, in a closed container.
Mung bean and lentil sprouts are delicious raw in salads or lightly stir-fried.
Microgreens are delicious raw and used in salads but you can put them into soups too.
If you end up with so many sprouts you don’t know what to do with them, put a handful through the juicer, together with a green apple, ½ lemon, piece of ginger and a few carrots and you’ve got yourself a protein-rich juice.
The packets of seeds for sprouting can be expensive. It’s far cheaper in the long run to buy a 500g bag of mung beans than a little packet that contains just 2 tablespoons of beans.
A few beans will soon multiply in size!
Have fun, experiment and let me know how it goes! Or join me and other likeminded ladies in my Facebook group, The Plant-based Way to share successes and questions!
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