How to sprout nuts, seeds, and grains
Sprouted foods (or activated foods as they are sometimes labeled) are widely available at health food stores. But, they are really expensive. Why hand over wads of cash when it’s so easy to make your own.
Sprouting does require patience, attention, and some planning, but very little hands-on time.
I soaking the foods I plan to sprout just before I go to bed, so they’re ready to go into sprouting jars in the morning. Getting them ready takes just a couple of minutes. Then it’s only a matter of checking on them, and making sure they stay hydrated. On a sunny windowsill, they’re easy to manage while you do other things.
Note: Most seeds, legumes, and grains will literally sprout a tail, but some will not. Most nuts will not physically sprout. This is because many of the nuts we purchase are not technically raw. A nut or seed that is labeled as raw may not have been cooked, but may have been irradiated, pasteurized, or subjected to heat to crack its hard shell. Due to legislation, all almonds sold in the United States must be pasteurized. So, you can activate the nutrient potential of an almond that is not truly raw, but it will never physically sprout a tail.
Basic instructions for sprouting
Soak your goods in a mason jar with a flat metal lid and a ring top. Remove the lid from the ring and use it as a guide to cut a piece of breathable mesh or cheesecloth to cover the opening of the jar. Place the food you want to sprout into the jar, only about one-third full, and fill the jar with warm water and a bit of natural salt (1/4 teaspoon per cup of water). Close the jar with the breathable cover and the ring. Let the jar rest on a countertop for the desired time (see the chart).
To drain, remove the ring and the mesh, pour out the water, and then fill the jar with fresh, warm water. Replace the flat metal lid and secure it with the ring. Rinse the food well by shaking the jar. Drain and repeat.
After draining the water for the second time, refit the mesh, close the jar with the ring, and lay the jar down at an angle, so excess water drains out. Leave the jar on its side to sit in natural light on a countertop or windowsill to drain.
Repeat the rinsing and draining every few hours, or at least twice a day. Make sure you angle the jar to drain off excess liquid and that you keep it in the sunlight until the food is fully sprouted.
Most foods sprout in 1 to 4 days (see chart). Sprouts vary in length from 1/8 inch to 2 inches (3mm to 5cm), and not all will show signs of green.
When the sprouts are ready, do a final rinse, drain thoroughly, and tilt the jar for further drainage until the sprouts are completely dry. (If they’re damp, they’ll spoil.) When they’re dry to the touch, replace the flat metal lid, secure with the ring, and store the jar in the fridge.
Including soaked and sprouted foods in your diet not only maximizes nutrient availability and expands culinary pleasure, but also encourages the proliferation of friendly bacteria in the digestive system, which boosts immunity. Consuming these foods in conjunction with cultured foods is a winning strategy for fostering a healthy internal balance.
Practice Safe Food Handling
Sprouts are highly susceptible to contamination, which can cause bacterial growth such as E. coli, resulting in food poisoning.
When preparing your sprouts, always wash your hands thoroughly, keep sprouting equipment and kitchen surfaces clean to avoid cross contamination, and consume within a couple of days, straight out of the fridge.
When purchasing commercial sprouts, always source fresh products from a reputable supplier.
Most sprouts will keep in the fridge for two to three days. Use them in raw salads, sandwiches, and wraps, or to top soups and stews. They can be pretty fabulous in smoothies, too.
Some health authorities recommend cooking sprouts to reduce the risk of food-borne illness. I consume sprouts raw, to benefit from their live enzymes and nutrient density, and have never had an issue. You decide yourself on the responsible choice for you and your family.