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How to Grow Your Own Sprouts



 You've seen them at salad bars and maybe at the supermarket. Now it is time to save money and improve your health in a big way... by growing lots of those little high-protein sprouts at home. 

To begin with, you will need 6 to 12 glass jars. Mason jars are fine, as are mayonnaise jars, peanut butter jars, or any other jars that hold about one and one-half quarts each. If you've not yet started saving your own jars, ask your neighbors for some. You will also need about a square yard of countertop space, a small strainer that just fits the jar openings, tap water, fresh seed to sprout, a window, and ten minutes twice a day. 

Place about enough seed in a jar to cover the bottom of the jar about two seeds deep. Too much seed gives poor results. Add about half a jar of cool tap water and let soak overnight (about six to ten hours). Next morning, fit the strainer into the jar opening to hold the seed back while you pour off the water that the seeds soaked in. 

You now have a pile of damp seeds in the bottom of the jar. Good. Now wait until afternoon (or evening) and fill the jar nearly full of cool water again.  This time, though, you should pour the water off (using the strainer) right away.  There is no need for an overnight soak after the first night. YOU DO NEED TO CONTINUE TO RINSE AND DRAIN THE SPROUTS TWICE EACH DAY. Three rinses a day is even better. If you don't rinse the seeds, they will dry out... and die out. If you add water and never drain it off, the sprouts will drown. They are not aquatic; they just need water like any other crop. Rinse and drain twice a day! 

You can sprout several different types of seeds. Try alfalfa first; alfalfa sprouts are tasty and easy to grow. They are ready in about six days.  Most sprouts grow more quickly in the warm summer months and more slowly in cooler temperatures. You can also sprout wheat, clover, cabbage, lentils, mung beans, radish seeds, soy beans and fenugreek seeds.  If you sprout wheat or lentils, I recommend that you eat the sprouts quite early, such as on the second or third day at the latest. Wheat and lentil sprouts are rather hard to chew after that, although they are certainly still good for you.  I do not recommend trying to sprout mung beans or soy beans at first. Mung sprouts are fussy and soy bean sprouts can have a rather strong odor. I am very partial to radish sprouts because they are a bit "hot" or spicy, just like a radish. Yum. Your local health food store or co-op probably has more information on seeds for sprouting.  Don't hesitate to ask. 

It is important that you obtain unsprayed, FRESH seed for sprouting. Stale seed does not germinate (sprout) very well. It is a good idea to smell the seeds that you are about to buy. Do they smell stale, old or rancid? If so, shop elsewhere.  It is wise to purchase your seeds someplace where they sell a LOT of seeds. This helps ensure freshness. You do not want to buy huge amounts of seed at a time, either. Start with perhaps half of a pound or a pound at most. At home, we keep our seeds in separate glass jars with tightly-fitting lids. And of course, keep the seed dry until you are ready to grow! 

Plain tap water is usually fine for rinsing your sprouts. If your harvest is small, you might consider filtering your tap water, or letting it stand for a day before use.  These ideas often help if you are having trouble getting the seeds to germinate. It is normal for some of the seeds to NOT sprout. Most should, or the seeds are too old. 

For the first few days, your sprouts do not need sunlight. After all, seeds normally sprout underground. For the final couple of days, it is a good idea to put them in the window to get sunlight. This will "green up" your sprouts and help them grow more quickly. Continue to rinse and drain the sprouts right up until you eat them. 

One of the healthiest things you can do is eat a jar or two of assorted sprouts each day. Sprouts are a complete protein, just like meat... but without the fat and other negative aspects of dead animal muscle. Sprouts are loaded with enzymes, vitamins and minerals. Eating a lot of the different kinds of sprouts gives you a virtually perfect diet. Sprouts are inexpensive and really tasty when you grow them yourself. Sure, you can buy them in a store.  You will also pay more and get a much less fresh, and much less flavorful, product. 

In order to have two jars of sprouts to eat each day, you need to START two jars each day. This is why you need all those jars that we mentioned earlier.  If you start two jars daily, and the sprouts take six days to be ready to eat, then you need twelve jars. Starting three jars each day means 15 jars, and so on. 

It does sound like a lot to eat two jars of sprouts per day. Remember, though, that each jar will not be full. Normally, the sprouts will only fill the jar half to two-thirds full.  Also, sprouts take up a lot of space. Try making a sandwich using sprouts instead of lettuce. You will find that when you press the slices of bread together that the sprouts crush right down to very little. So eat your sprouts! 

How should sprouts be eaten?  Raw, that's how. (Soy sprouts would be the exception here: they are better cooked.) When you make a salad, use sprouts for a base instead of lettuce. Then add the cut-up vegetables that you like best on top of the sprouts. Feel free to use different salad dressings if you wish. I am in favor of ANY dressing that gets you to eat a lot of sprouts. 

Should you find that you have too many sprouts ready on a given day, you can refrigerate them. I suggest loosely covering the jar opening with an inverted small sandwich beg to keep the moisture level inside about right. Avoid storing the sprouts in the back or bottom of the refrigerator where it is coldest. Frozen sprouts do not appeal to most people. 

If I had just one piece of health advice to give to a person, it would be to eat a lot of sprouts. People who do are so much healthier. There's only one way to prove this for yourself, and that is to try it for yourself. 

Copyright C 2004 and prior years Andrew W. Saul. 

Andrew Saul is the author of the books FIRE YOUR DOCTOR! How to be Independently Healthy (reader reviews at ) and DOCTOR YOURSELF: Natural Healing that Works. (reviewed at )

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Andrew W. Saul


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