April 4, 2012

Sprouting at Home

As someone who grew up in California, there would be something terribly wrong if I didn't like sprouts at least a little bit. But the experience of buying sprouts at the grocery store is not rewarding. They are rather expensive, bland, and spoil quickly. Much of the time they are matted together and get slimy on the bottom.

I started looking into home sprouting when we began eating mind boggling amounts of chia seed last year. Turns out the consensus is that chia seeds actually lose nutrition when sprouted, and don't taste all that great anyway. But in the course of the chia surfing, I came across sites like Sproutpeople.  Since then I've tried many types of sprouts and usually have 3-5 groups of sprouts or microgreens going at any given time. Believe me, there are so many amazing sprouts you have never tried.

The picture above is a typical breakfast for me: black coffee, huge pile of sprouts (these are buckwheat) on homemade whole wheat bread with vegan butter. Yum!

Here is a picture of my sprout seed stock as of a month or so ago. Some people might speculate that I have overbought on the sprouting supplies. I won't argue the point, but eventually I'll use it all up.

Most weeks I do 4 quarts of regular, salad type sprouts. Lately I have been putting two TBS of a sprouting mix from Sproutpeople (Italian, Nick's Hot, French, etc.), one TBS of kale seed, and one TBS of buckwheat into a 2L jar. This turns out pretty well, though the buckwheat has a tendency to make things slimier.

I use the stainless screen lids for regular wide mouth canning jars for sprouting. Supposedly this method is not as effective as others, but I like the presentation of what is going on. A line of glittery glass jars with living sprouts in them lining the windowsill looks nice.

One exception to this is for doing mung bean sprouts. These go in a different sprouter in the kitchen closet to keep them out of the light. Apparently they get much more bitter if they are allowed to green. The mung bean sprouts will only get fat if grown under pressure, so for a while I was using an Easy sprouter with a spacer held down with rubber bands. This was ok, but not elegant. These days I'm trying to use the stainless parts from my underutilized cheese press, with a big jar of lentils on top for pressure. Still have not perfected home mung bean sprouts, but they are highly edible anyway. Here is a batch out of the easy sprouter.

Its probably a pound of sprouts, and it came from 1/4 cup of mung beans! These are just cheap mung beans from the asian store, which are highly viable for sprouting. I also tried black turtle beans, adzuki beans, purple rice, and indian millet from Reliable Market in Union Square. Nothing had a decent rate of sprouting except the mung beans, though I have not yet tried the millet.

Here is a typical view of the windowsill in the kitchen.

Starting from left:
  • 2L salad sprouts in initial soak
  • 2L salad sprouts almost done (probably have been eaten a little)
  • Black sesame (these turned out really bitter)
  • Madison Market nut mix (THE best sprouts I have tasted)
  • Wehani rice (good but not really worth the price)
The kids like sprouts to some degree. They were pretty excited to begin with, but I think the novelty has worn off. As Violet said in a tired sounding voice, "Dad, everything that can be sprouted in this house has been sprouted". Violet's favorite is sprouted peanuts. Here is Millie eating some delicious sprouted lentil/garbanzo and amaranth mash with carrots and greens, and Buster munching some salad sprouts (he is 1, so he'll put anything in his mouth)

I told Violet about Chia Pets and she was very interested. So I bought a chia cat off ebay and we have planted and replanted it every few weeks. Violet likes to eat the Chia sprouts off it. Both of the girls enjoy getting chia seed scum all over the place when we replant the cat. Here it is at about the one week stage, before it gets really fluffy, keeping company with salad sprouts and two types of bean sprouts.

Even Becky likes sprouts, though she was resistant at first. Here she is eating a vegan pancake sprout sandwich.

I also got some microgreens seed mix from Sproutpeople, along with a hydroponic growth media mat. This is Bruno's Indoor Garden mix, and we have been growing and eating these on a continuing basis. A pound of this mix will last for a long, long time, since one of these dishes uses only about a TSP of seeds.

So to sum up the sprout results to date:
  1. Best is Madison Market Mix from Sproutpeople, sauted for a minute or two with oil and garlic and a bit of soy sauce. Mix into fried rice or other grain or greens mix.
  2. Salad sprouts, Lentils, Garbanzos, peas, and rye are nice.
  3. Would not buy again: sesame, amaranth, rice

Kale is not great by itself, but is nice mixed in with other sprouts. I think buckwheat is too slimy, but Becky likes it since it is larger and more substantial than the salad sprouts.

In parting, another shot of a delectable breakfast:

1 comment:

Tanya Briggs said...

Hi, I saw your pretty pic of the long mung bean sprouts and commented on still not having prefected the system. I am also working on this issue but finally I come up with something that gets my mung sprouts close to the fat store bought ones. I use a large Sprout Master when I need a large amount of sprouts for egg rolls. However I only use the screened portion and leave the bottom and lid for another sprout seed, and I put that tray inside a deep stainless steel pan with a stainless steel lid. This keeps the seeds in darkness while sitting beside my sink. I place a damp kitchen towel on top of the soaked and later rinsed seeds. Day 3 or 4...I put the whole set up into the sink and add enough water to soak the sprouts for at least 30 mins. Then I rinse well, and cover the pan with the towel then the lid, THEN place something heavy on top of the flat stainless lid. I continue to rinse 2 times a day (in my climate it is enough) and when the sprouts push the lid up and have leaves starting I then cut the feeder roots of and wash and dry before storing.

I have used strong paper toweling in the bottom of the Sprout master to make it easier to put the sprouts out in mass...but it is far from perfect and I am still trying other ideas to allow me to remove the roots cleaner...BUT...I am quite happy with how fat my spouts get. The 30 min soak and thick planting of seed produces the pressure needed to fatten up the sprouts. For small amounts of mungs I use the Easy Sprouter...but still do the 3rd day soak to fatten up the sprouts. It is just much harder to removed the roots all together like it is with the sproutmaster,