Sprouting For Health and Fun

A day like today here in San Francisco feels like Spring is upon us. And the vibration in the air that swirls gently around me whispers into my ear, “Sprouting time is back!”

Sprouting has to be one of the most rewarding and satisfying tasks I have ever undertaken in the kitchen: cheap, easy, fast, delicious and nutritious–not to mention an original and effective way to impress my friends… They are a superfood that is beneficial for everyone.

Lentils and alfalfa are my favorite, and sprouting them is a no-brainer: I soak them overnight in lukewarm water, then I drain and rinse them before setting the 15-dollar-device I invested in years ago into the “sprouting” position (the inner container is raised slightly above the outter countainer to allow for airflow through the holes in the bottom and in the lid). Many sprouters also use a wide-mouth jar closed with a mesh or cheesecloth, and turned upside down at an angle in order to facilitate airflow.

The user manual insists on not rinsing the lentils through the sprouting process. And sure enough, they produce within 48 hours white sprouts of the same length as the actual legume. That’s the signal that they’re ready for immediate consumption or storage in the fridge (in an air-tight container) to stop the sprouting process.

Rich in protein, vitamin C and iron, lentils taste delicious and will satisfy even voracious appetites. I add them raw to my salads, soups and stir-fry.

Alfalfa and other small seeds like broccoli and clover require regular rinsing. They also take longer before being ready for consumption, up to five days. Make sure to put enough seeds to stimulate the growth of vigorous sprouts. They make a great addition to salads and sandwiches.

In fact, there’s basically no limit to what you can experiment with. Just remember this: the bigger the seed or the legume, the more airflow is needed. And the more airflow is needed (and provided), the more you need to rinse throughout the process in order to replenish moisture and prevent drying. I found that beans or chickpeas can rot when not exposed to enough air. That’s why I’ve taken to sprouting them in a cloth-covered sieve that I rinse twice daily.

Last but not least, sprouting is very fun, especially when undertaken with children. They will love keeping track of the progress on the “sprouting farm.” One more way to lure them into enjoying a healthy food!

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