Sprouting seeds is one of the easiest and best things you can do for your health. Seeds that sprout are also some of the best food items to store for preparedness.
Before I decided to follow a plant based diet sprouting seeds were a mystery to me. The only thing I knew about sprouts was from news reports about some unsuspecting customer at a local restaurant that would occasionally get sick from eating them.
Turns out that sprouts are one of mother nature's super foods. They are rich in nutrients, they have a ton more enzymes than most other raw food, they are high in protein, they help with weight loss, they are a good source of energy, and the list goes on; click here to read more about the health benefits of sprouts. There is a slight risk to eating them, even if you sprout them yourself, but it is really no more risky than eating hamburger or driving a car.
From a preparedness standpoint sprouting seeds are a perfect prep: they are compact, they are fast growing, they can easily be germinated indoors , and all you need to activate germination is water. They are also less of a security risk than other food preps, because let's face it, most thieves that would run across seeds wouldn't know what to do with them. I even keep some in my bug-out bag.
Let me show you step-by-step how to sprout seeds safely and easily. (Note: this is a great project to do with kids, for all the reasons I mentioned above and because it's just fun to watch the seeds sprout)
How To Sprout Seeds:
All seeds are suppose to sprout, after all that is what seeds do. However, if you are thinking about storing seeds I recommend purchasing them from a company that sells seeds specifically for sprouting. This way you can be sure to get seeds that have a high germination rate and also insure that the seeds have not been sprayed with chemicals that would prevent them from sprouting. I found these seeds from The Sprout House on Amazon; they sell individual seeds and blends. To show you the sprouting process I choose Dill Salad Mix, Wisdom Blend, Sol's Bean Salad and then good old alfalfa seeds.
One of the most common ways to sprout seeds is in a Mason jar with a special lid like the ones above. The different size holes are for different sized seeds and also for different phases of the sprouting process. The lids with larger holes allows the hulls to be washed away when rinsing the sprouts. The hulls don't bother me so I leave them in but this might be a useful tool when introducing kids to sprouts. You can get a plastic top here, set of plastic tops with different sized holes here and the mesh top that just fits under a regular canning ring here.
Another way to sprout seeds is in a sprouter like this one from Victoro. This 4 tray sprouter will allow you to sprout different kinds of seeds together, and the trays are self-draining.
I'm going to show you both methods, sprouting in jars and with the sprouter.
First let me tell you a little more about the sprouter because it is a little different than the jars.
Here you can see the inside.
It might be a little hard to see from this picture but each arrow points to a hole; that's where the water drains down to the next layer. Hang on and I'll explain more about the water drainage in a moment.
First, let me show you how to place the seeds in a jar. If you choose to use a jar go ahead and place two tablespoons of seeds into the jar.
To load the sprouter place two tablespoons on each tray.
For this post I'm only going to use two trays.
If you start your seeds in jars go ahead and soak your seeds for 8 hours or overnight. Fill the jar about halfway with water to soak. I love the mesh top because the water goes right in.
I used the smallest plastic top and as you can see the water is having a harder time getting in. I wound up taking the top off each time I rinsed the sprouts. However, if I had used the yellow top pictured above I don't think I would have had that problem. The good thing is that it will keep in small seeds.
I can't soak the seeds in the sprouter like the seeds in the jars because remember those holes I showed you with the black arrows? That's where the water flows down. So I just filled up the sprouter and let the water flow down without soaking.
I've had this sprouter for a few years and have never really had a problem with it. However, from time to time I get in a hurry and don't replace the top tray correctly and the water leaks out, usually all over the counter. So, now I place the entire sprouter in a bowl.
This is what I started with, two jars and two trays.
After 8 hours drain the water.
Fill the jar up with water.
Rinse the seeds.
But this time drain the water out, so that the seeds are wet but not in standing water.
After rinsing and draining place the jars upside down in a bowl or on a drying rack. The remaining water will drain out.
Here is what the second tray looked like after the first water drainage cycle in the sprouter.
The water from the sprouter flows down from the first tray through the second tray to a collection tray on the bottom. Here is the water from the that first water drainage. As the seeds begin to sprout the water does not look this yucky.
Pour the water out.
Then fill the sprouter up again.
Until the seeds sprout and are ready to eat, every twelve hours or so (first thing when you get up and last thing after dinner) rinse and drain the seeds if you have them in jars or empty the sprouter and refill it if you have a sprouter.
This is Sol's Bean Salad Mix from seed to sprouts.
Since Sol's Bean Salad Mix was in the jar with the metal mesh top I wanted to show you how the top will look after a few days. When this first happened I thought it was rust, it's not, it's just gunk from the seeds. You can wash it off.
This is Wisdom Blend from seeds to sprouts.
Alfalfa from seeds to sprouts.
And Dill Salad Mix. Yeah, I got into them before I finished taking pictures - you caught me.....:) That's why it looks like some are missing in the last picture.
Be sure to refrigerate your sprouts after they have reached the desired growth. Always rinse sprouts before you eat them - I use a vinegar rinse on mine. They will store in the refrigerator for about a week. You can continue to rinse them even after you've placed them in the refrigerator, however, let them drain thoroughly before placing them back into the fridge. If they have become slimy in the refrigerator discard them
The whole process takes about 5 days. Of course, you can eat the seeds any time after they begin to sprout (as soon as they get those little tails) so that could be as soon as 3 days. It just depends on how you want to eat them. The sprouts large enough to have leaves go well in salads and on sandwiches. The 3 day old sprouts can go into soups or stews. Although, I've been known to throw the longer sprouted seeds into soups and stews as well; wait until just before serving, because the sprouts will retain their crunch in the hot dish. Here are a few more ideas for eating sprouts.
Like everything in food storage I recommend storing what you eat and eating what you store. This is a super easy skill to learn and get into the habit of doing, even if your food storage only consists of sprouting seeds and a few containers of grains. As long as you sprout your seeds you will be able to retain a fairly healthy diet no matter what the circumstances.