Whether I am lucky, have unrecognised green fingers or what, I do not know, but it seems that many people have struggled and continue to struggle with sprouting seeds, beans, pulses and grains successfully, and after a couple of failed attempts tend to throw in the towel and write the whole idea off.
Don't do it!
Sprouting absolutely has to be one of the very most important raw food "tools" you need to have in your toolbox if you want to be as lithe, gorgeous and energy-filled as you can possibly be (my already abundant energy probably doubles when I bring sprouts into my daily diet). There's a LOT to be said for these apparently "insignificant" little creatures, and to ignore or exclude them from your diet is, in my humble opinion, one of the biggest mistakes you can possibly make.
So in my bid to have you sprouting successfully all over your kitchen, here follows my fool-proof guide to sprouting using my own personal favourite method, the jar.
What is sprouting?
Sprouting is an alternative term for germinating, although the sprouting process goes a little beyond basic germination and results in a partially grown or young plant. In a raw food kitchen we’re looking specifically at the sprouting of a nut, seed, bean or grain in order to render it edible or more easily digestible. Nuts do not need to be sprouted to make them edible, nor do some seeds but both benefit from soaking and sprouting as they become more easily digestible and juicier as a result. Other seeds, i.e. those that are supposed to be sprouted, plus all beans, pulses and legumes (with the exception of peanuts) need to be sprouted if they are to be eaten raw. Kidney beans should never be eaten raw and should be avoided. Grains should also be soaked and sprouted, although dry oats are an exception and can be milled down and used to make cookies successfully without being sprouted first. The sprouting process begins in water in your very own kitchen.
When a seed, bean, nut or grain is soaked in water for a period of time, the plant’s enzyme inhibitors are removed. These enzyme inhibitors prevent a plant from germinating unless the right conditions for growth are met, and so once the seed comes into contact with water and the enzyme inhibitors are washed away the germination process begins. This process sets into action a whole chain of reactions enabling the plant to grow at a rapid rate. As it does so the vitamin content increases dramatically, to the point where the sprouted seed can contain hundreds or thousands times more vitamins than it did previously, and the protein, carbohydrates and fats begin to break down into a pre-digested form making for easier and better digestion and assimilation overall. The enzyme content of each seed, been, nut or grain also sky rockets making sprouts one of the most enzyme-rich (i.e. live) foods on the planet.
What do I need to sprout?
You don’t need any fancy equipment to get sprouting, although there are many pieces of equipment available to help you such as jars, trays, bags and even automatic sprouting kits. To get started you’ll need some seeds or beans for sprouting, a container to sprout them in such as a jam jar, and something to drain the water through, like a sieve or some netting or muslin secured around the top of the jar.
Best ways to get sprouting
Sprouting is actually very easy, but some seeds and beans tend to sprout more easily than others. The easiest ones tend to be mung, lentil, fenugreek, chickpea (garbanzo) and quinoa. These are all quick to grow (quinoa takes just 24 hours, the others take 2- 3 days on average) and mastering the sprouting of these will help you get more confident about sprouting other seeds and beans that take longer to grow or are slightly more tricky.