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Sprouts!

Sprouting is a great way to produce some of your own food. If you have access to some clean jars, lids with screens, clean water, and appropriate seeds, you can raise your own sprouts.

Most sprouting seeds will be ready to eat within 3 to 5 days from beginning. They are highly nutritious, tasty, and provide a source of satisfaction for me at having produced some of my own food, even in the dead of winter.

Alfalfa seeds are my favorite. Brocoli, radish, mung bean, and lintel are other common sprouts. Make sure the variety you decide to sprout are edible. If you want a suggestion, try alfalfa first. They are great on sandwiches and salads! Make sure your sprouting seeds are viable and organic.

If you do not live near an organic food store or health food store, you can google “sprouting seeds”. There are many on line sources of sprouting seeds. Do not use just any seeds you can get your hands on, as some seeds may have been sprayed with undesirable compounds to prevent premature sprouting.

I do my sprouts in wide mouth quart canning jars with special made sprouting lids. However, it is easy to adapt the canning jar rings to take a home cut piece of nylon or brass screen. The lids need screens in order to keep the seeds inside the jar during repeated rinses. After you develop the “rinse touch”, you might be able to finesse the seeds to stay in the jar without the lid!

To get started, select the seeds you wish to sprout. In the video, I am sprouting a mixture from Edith's Health & Specialty Store in Lewisburg, WV. Make sure you have a totally clean jar and lid. It probably does not have to be sterile to start, but there have been some isolated reports of bacterial contamination of sprouts producing food borne illness.

Put three teaspoons of seeds into the jar and then fill the jar with water. Leave the seeds to soak all day or overnight. For me, the key to being able to successfully sprout was to put the jars in plain sight near the sink, so that each time I saw them, I could attend to them as necessary. The total investment of time is minimal, but the seeds do need attention at least a couple of times per day most days.

From my personal experience, it is possible to find many sources of complex or arcane directions on sprouting. If the seeds are in a dark closet, I will forget them. Temperature control may be nice, but the marginal returns of that effort are minimal at best. Precise rinse intervals have proven to not be necessary. Life on Earth appears to be robust, and in my experience it only takes a slight human nudge to get the seeds to fulfill their destiny.

Just do not forget them for extended periods. Give them some attention at least two times per day most days, and the seeds will sprout.

When rinsing, especially at the beginning, you will notice a bit of foaminess to the water as it is poured onto the seeds. This is to be expected. I think it is the rinsing away of the substances that keep the seeds from sprouting until conditions are right. To rinse, fill the jar with water, and then pour it away. Try to make the seeds distribute evenly along the side of the jar.

I use a soup bowl to prop up the bottom of the jar. I lay the jar on its side, with the opening at the bottom of the bowl and the side of the jar resting on the edge. The angle of the jar is something less than 45 degrees from the counter surface, with the top of the jar lower, so residual water can continue to drain from the jar between rinses.

After 48 hours, you should notice the sprouts beginning to emerge from the seeds. You will probably notice continued growth with each rinse. Depending upon the type of seeds, you should see the cotelydons appear in three to five days. This is when they are ready to eat.

I have found that storing the seeds in the jar in the same position as between rinses keeps the sprouts crisp and fresh. Sunlight on the green sprouts will help them produce more of the enzymes and other nutrients to help you stay healthy. Get them eaten within four or five days. If you want a continuous supply, start your next batch as soon as the current one is ready. Bon Apetit!

Editorial Notes: This article continues the EntropyPawsed series intended to further the discussion on designing for sustainable human lifestyles. The series is a multi-part educational program originally designed for the Yeshiva University, Albert Einstein School of Medicine Social Medicine course.

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