Friday, April 8, 2022

Sprout it Up! Cheap, Easy and Delicious Food

Sprouts Sprouting
Sprouts be sprouting - 4 different jars at various stages!

A funny thing happened at the end of the summer, I was scrolling through Instagram and I came across a video by Mike Posner showing everybody who will listen, how to grow sprouts themselves.  This led me to looking at some other videos by Doug Evans as well as looking up some general sprouting information and scientific research.

For the past eight years or so I've been thinking about two specific aspects of growing food myself:  Microgreens and Sprouts.  I very much enjoy both of these but they're fairly expensive at the store so I generally stay away from them unless I'm able to buy them directly from a local farm since then I know they'll be as fresh and as tasty as possible.  I've always had it in the back of my mind that I want to try growing them myself.  With microgreens having always been at the front of my mind for this since that's what I've always been the most familiar with and I quite simply never realized the utter simplicity of growing sprouts.

Microgreens are seeds that are grown in soil and you cut them down when they are baby seedlings.  You generally take a shallow tray, fill it with soil, sprinkle your seeds on thick, water them, the seeds sprout then when they get an inch or two tall you cut them with scissors and there you have your microgreens.  You need a fair amount of material for this (such as fresh soil for each batch) and there's a fair amount of technique to it as well such as knowing how thick / thin to sprinkle the seeds, how much water to give them, when to cut them, etc.

Sprouts are seeds that are sprouted without the use of soil.  You take a container or jar, add some seeds, soak them in water for 12 hours or so, drain out the water, rinse the container a few times a day then in 6 or 7 days you have a whole bunch of sprouts to eat.

As you can see, microgreens and sprouts are very similar to each other.  However microgreens require more resources, time, knowledge, and money.  Sprouts require a very minimal amount of all of those.

There's an ongoing debate on which one is healthier for you and if the microgreens absorb more nutrients since they're grown in soil vs sprouts which are just grown in a jar and only have the stored nutrients of the seed available to it, so which one should you eat?

Whichever one you can grow is the one you should go with and sprouts are the easiest and most cost effective while requiring minimal knowledge plus they are delicious!  Sprouts are going to be the best starting point.

Why Sprout?
The internet is abuzz with millions, billions, and perhaps trillions of claims of why you should start sprouting.  Go ahead and cut through all the noise and chatter and look at the actual research that has been done by accredited institutions.  There hasn't been a whole lot of research done in this area but there has been some such as this Johns Hopkins paper from 1997 or this newer article from 2019 or this 2019 article from Harvard.  You'll notice that they all hint at potential benefits but they stay away from the dubious and extreme claims that you're used to seeing all over the internet.  If you want to summarize all of those, it's basically what we already know, "If you want to be as healthy as possible, eat your vegetables and sprouts are a form of vegetables."  Sprouts are potentially jam packed with nutrients and they potentially can help your body and mind out a lot.  So why not try them?  It sounds a hell of a lot better than all of the chemicals found in your food-like products that you find at the normal grocery store!

How Cost Effective?
Just as with everything in our world at the moment, prices are rising, including the cost of seeds.  However you can currently buy a 16 oz (1 lb) package of Organic Broccoli Sprouting Seeds for $27.  This is on True Leaf Market and if you order over $45 you get free shipping.  Lets round the price of seeds up to $30 just to make it easy and account for additional costs.  With 16 ounces of Broccoli Seeds and using the easy sprouting steps laid out below, I was able to get 20 mason jars of sprouts.  Which gives us a price of $1.50 per mason jar of broccoli sprouts!

If you get a 16 oz (1 lb) package of the 5 Part Salad Mix Sprouting Seeds for $14.00, which we'll call it $17.  You can get 15 mason jars worth of sprouts with 16 ounces of this seed mix which gives you a price of $0.88 per mason jar of salad mix sprouts!

Growing sprouts yourself is very cost effective and they make for a great snack or even a complete meal.

Materials Needed
-Mason Jar(s) (or a sprouting kit)
-Mesh screen to cover the mason jar opening (allows air in and water out and is included in sprouting kits)
-Normal bowl or fancy mason jar stand found in sprouting kits
-Willingness to try something new

How Do You Sprout?
1.  Take your clean mason jar
2.  Add 2 tbsp of seeds to your jar
3.  Fill your jar with water to soak the seeds.
4.  Screw the mesh screen to the top of the jar.
5.  After 12(ish) hours, empty the water out and rinse the seeds by filling the jar back up with water and emptying it out.
6.  Place your mason jar in a normal bowl at a 45 degree angle or on a fancy mason jar stand.  This allows your water to drain out while letting air in.
7.  Twice a day - rinse the seeds by filling the jar up with water and emptying it.
8.  After 6 or 7 days you will have a full mason jar of sprouts.
9.  Remove sprouts, wash and enjoy!
10.  Store any extra sprouts in the fridge.

It's 10 very easy steps to sprout with minimal knowledge and minimal amounts of equipment with a lot of potential gains to be had.  Plus, seeds do not need any light to sprout, put them in a dark cupboard or basement or crawl space or wherever you can and they will sprout just fine.  You have very little to lose and a lot to gain from starting your own sprouting journey.  It's quite fun and I currently have a rotation of 4 mason jars going, which seems to be the perfect amount for me currently and it allows me to enjoy sprouts each and every day!  I generally have 2 jars of broccoli sprouts and 2 jars of the 5 part salad mix going because diversity is key and I'm sure all of the different sprouts have their very own benefits, they just might not be known yet.

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