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Got Sprouts?

They're not only good for you, but they taste good, too. Sprouts are also a great source of vitamins, fiber, protein, anti-oxidants, and enzymes. A sprout is produced when a seed starts growing into a vegetable. Sprouts can grow from the seeds ofvegetables, from grains such as buckwheat, and frombeans. While Mung beans are perhaps the most commonsource of sprouts, you can also obtain good resultsfrom lentils, soybeans and chickpeas just to name afew.

Sprouts can be grown almost anywhere and the best partis you only need a few basic supplies to get started.By following a few simple steps, you can receive acontinual supply of nutritious sprouts.

While there are several commercial products availableto cultivate sprouts, here are some of the easiestmethods to help you get started.

- Growing Sprouts in Flower Pots -

1. Start with a clean clay or plastic flower pot. Makesure there is a hole in the bottom of the pot to ensuregood drainage. Then place a piece of cheesecloth ormuslin in the bottom of the pot over the hole so thatthe seeds/beans cannot fall out.

2. Next, soak the seeds or beans overnight and thenput them in the pot. Remove any that are broken ordamaged. Cover the plant pot with a dish.

3. Once a day, hold the pot under running water for afew minutes. This is to soak the seeds/beansthoroughly.

4. Once the sprouts begin to show, remove the dish andcover the pot with a piece of clear plastic wrap to letin the light. Place the sprouting pot near a windowthat allows daylight but is not in direct sunlight.

- Growing the Sprouts in Trays -

1. Soak the seeds or beans overnight. Remove any thatare broken or damaged before you begin the sproutingprocess.

2. Select a low, flat dish (like a pie plate) or tray.You can purchase growing trays wherever plantingsupplies are sold.

3. Next, spread out a 2-inch layer of soil and thensprinkle the soaked seeds or beans on top of the soil.

4. Cover the seeds/beans with four layers of dampnewspaper.

5. Cover the top of the tray with clear plastic wrap.

6. When the sprouts start to lift the plastic cover,(usually about three days) remove the newspaper.

7. Place the tray in a window so that the light canturn the sprouts green. You will need a space to placethe sprouting tray that receives daylight but is not indirect sunlight.

8. Because the thin layer of soil dries out quickly,water twice each day.

9. After about 8-10 days, you will have sprouts tallenough to harvest.

- Growing Sprouts in a Jar -

1. Soak the seeds, grains, or beans in lukewarm waterovernight in a wide-mouth glass jar. Remove any thatare broken or damaged before you begin the sproutingprocess. (Sprouting increases the seed volume.4-tablespoons will be sufficient for a quart sizecontainer.)

2. In the morning, pour off the water in the jar andrinse the seeds/beans thoroughly.

3. Place a piece of cheesecloth or muslin over themouth of the jar. Use a rubber band to hold thematerial securely in place. This makes rinsing easier.

4. To keep the sprouts constantly damp, repeat therinsing 2-3 times a day. Remember to drain any excesswater because the sprouts should not stand in water.

5. Keep the jar away from the light for the first fewdays.

6. When the seeds/beans begin to sprout, (usuallyabout the forth day) move the jar into the light toactivate the chlorophyll and turn the sprouts green.

- Harvesting and Storing the Sprouts -

Newly germinated grain, seed, and sprouts, increase infood value in the very first period of growth. Grainsshould be harvested and eaten from when they are sixdays old until they are 4-5 inches tall. To harvest,just take your kitchen scissors and cut what you need.

Sprouts from beans, peas, etc., are ready earlier andcan be eaten when they are 3-6 days old, depending onthe type of sprout. For spouts grown in no soil or inseed trays, you can harvest the green "grass" when itstarts to grow. Sprouts, from grain sown in jars, areready sooner and are edible even before they turngreen. Seeds sown in soil take a little longer.

If necessary, wash the sprouts thoroughly to remove theseed coat. Sprouts need to be stored in therefrigerator once they are ready to eat. Put thesprouts in tight sealing bags, and they will remainflavorful and crisp for one to two weeks. Rinsing thesprouts daily under cold water can extend their life.

Sprouts may be frozen by blanching them over steam forthree minutes and then cooling them in ice water. Drainthem and pack into freezer containers.

By growing your own sprouts, you will save yourselfmoney because it is less expensive to buy sprout seedsand grow and harvest the sprouts yourself than it isto buy the sprouts from a market. Sprouting at hometakes only a few minutes a day, and can produce a goodpart of your daily requirements of the nutrients youneed from fresh produce. The hassles are minor, thecosts are low, and the freshness is wonderful.

Pia Nutro operates http://www.forvegetables.comShe has studied nutrition and understands the importance of vegetables in the diet. Visit often for up to date information on vegetables.



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