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WHY USE SPROUTS?
Reasons for using sprouts are so plentiful and so important it's usually only a matter of listing them to convince you to try this very special kind of in-home gardening–accomplished in the comfort of your own kitchen. Increasing numbers of families find sprouting nutritious, delicious, and far less expensive than store prices. This information is a digest version of the Kitchen Gardening chapter, to be released in the revised 11th edition of Making the Best of Basics––Family Preparedness Handbook.
Nutritionally, dried seeds, grains, and legumes provide only a small portion of the total nutrients the body requires. However, once they are sprouted, seeds provide the largest relative amounts of nutrients per unit of intake compared to other food sources. Sprouting multiplies the content of minerals and vitamins in the seed many times because a wealth of nutrients is released to aid the development of the seed during its growth process.
There is no doubt more nourishment contained in a plant's sprout than at any other time in its life cycle. Often, new nutrients occur where there were none before. Vitamins A, B complex, C, and E are increased, sometimes as much as ten times!
Both the quantity and quality of the protein in most sprouts are dramatically increased. New amino acids form as the seeds sprout, resulting in increased digestibility. Sprouts are biogenic—alive and capable of transferring their life energy to your body. They contain enzymes which aid in digestion of foods, provide a good source of fiber, and slow the aging process. They are also an excellent multipurpose vegetable. Using sprouts greatly increases vitamin content of dishes, provides a "live" food, and in general supports better health for the body. To add to all of their nutritional plusses, untreated and organic sprouts are free of pesticides and are pest-free, too.
Watching your weight? An additional benefit of sprouts is the low carbohydrate, fat, and cholesterol content—a real plus for weight-watchers.
It really doesn't matter how sprouts are utilized in food preparation, they will sustain good health and stamina. If you had only a supply of sprouting seeds in your food storage, you could live a full year or more, eating only from your kitchen garden. The best part is that sprouts are also the least expensive fresh vegetables you can procure and store!
It is virtually impossible for a family to store enough fresh vegetables to last a long period of time—or to have them available in times of extreme duress, whether due to people-caused or natural disasters. By sprouting seeds, fresh vegetables are only 2–3 days away––year-round! Sprouts substitute for green vegetables and replace lettuce and other greens when they become expensive or unavailable. Get a variety of seeds and learn to use them and you will have fresh green vegetables year-round, even when there is no way to grow vegetables in soil. This makes sprouting seeds a high-priority acquisition item for your family's preparedness plan.
The amount of food value stored in such a small space is a boon to a family's foods storage program. Sprouting is a very easy way to increase the utility of many types of grains, seeds, and legumes or beans. Sprouts are easy to prepare and utilize. Both equipment and supplies are easily found and readily available almost anywhere. The effort required for a batch of sprouts is minimal. Bringing sprouts to the table, ready to eat, takes less than 10 minutes during the entire 3-day (average) growth period.
Compared to vegetable gardening, kitchen gardening with sprouts is easy. There is little fuss and bother. Sprouts require no fertilizer. In fact, all that's required is some water, air, and a small nook where they can grow. Sprouts conserve energy, too. They require few resources for their sprouting cycle. You can eat sprouts without cooking them, and any sprouted beans or grains cook much quicker. Sprouts save money—all of the above, and this, too! Sprouting inexpensive seeds can help support your family's overworked budget!
This chapter is designed solely to help readers realize the importance of sprouting in their food storage program—and now is the time to start learning how to sprout! It summarizes the basic information needed to either become an accomplished sprouter or to improve your sprouting acumen.
Experiment! Don't be afraid to try something new—there's not much you can do to hurt sprouts! After a few tries, you'll discover at which stage of sprout development your family prefers different sprouted seeds. Some like sprouted seeds best after they have sprouted just 48 hours, others when 4–5 days old, when the sprout has more "chewiness" and has a more substantially developed flavor. Past this point, as the sprout is actually becoming a plant, they tend to be-come bitter and woody. Actually, sprouts may be used any time after the shoot emerges from the seed, but with some seeds, it's better to wait until the shoot is longer. Sprouts are best when they taste best to you!
BASIC SPROUTING EQUIPMENT
BASIC SEED SPROUTER - Generally, the only equipment needed for sprouting can easily be found in your home.
Here's the short list of equipment:
Piece of cotton gauze, nylon net, or pantyhose top—any clean, durable fabric;
Strong rubber band (or sealing ring for quart jar); and
Voilà! — a basic and inexpensive sprouting equipment for Basic sprouting!
Sprouts require no fertilizer. All that's required is some moisture, some air, a small place in a kitchen cabinet, a small spot on the windowsill, or place on the countertop under a kitchen towel. An occasional rinse during the day––as indicated in the Basic Sprouting Guide––and you have rich, nutrient-dense food at very low cost.
STEP-BY-STEP BASIC SPROUTING METHOD
There are only a few general rules for sprouting—it's practically foolproof! Almost all seeds are sprouted the same way, with a few exceptions. The Basic Sprouting Guide points out some special handling requirements for particular seeds, grains, and beans. Check the Guide for specifics when sprouting.
To utilize the Basic sprouting method, follow these general directions:
Measure the appropriate amount of beans, grain, or seeds for batch, removing broken seeds and foreign objects.
Place measured amount of seeds in jar that is half-full of warm water. Cull out "floaters" or "sinkers" ("floaters" when majority of seeds rest on bottom—when majority float, pick out the "sinkers").
Secure gauze (or nylon fabric) over the mouth of the jar with the rubber band (or jar ring).
Soak 6–8 hours, or as directed in the Basic Sprouting Guide in a warm location in the kitchen.
Then drain seeds well by turning bottle upside-down. Leave it angled to one side in the sink or dish drainer for a few minutes. Rinse them again gently in warm water to remove contaminants. Allow to drain once more, and then place in kitchen cabinet, on the counter, or in the window covered with a dark towel so germination may begin. (Be sure to place jar where it's warm.)
Drain and rinse seeds 2–3 times each day (or as directed by the Basic Sprouting Guide, always draining well to prevent souring of sprouts.
When sprouts attain desired length, eat the whole thing—seed, sprout, and roots—for a healthier meal or snack.
Store unused sprouts in refrigerator to retard further growth. The Basic Sprouting Guide gives the recommended sprout length for each seed. Sprouts generally achieve peak palatability, highest vitamin content, and potency within 2–3 days.
IDEAS FOR USING SPROUTS
Using sprouts varies the menu, adds bulk to recipes, and improves the flavor of many ordinary dishes. Sprouts are versatile––they can be used in so many ways. Eat them as fresh sprouts, in salads, teas, sandwiches, soups, gourmet entrées, casseroles, pancakes or breads; raw, boiled, sautéed, steamed, or stir-fried—you're limited only by your imagination! In fact, you can create your own designer or gourmet sprout combination by mixing and matching your favorite grains, seeds, and beans in the same batch. This allows customization for your eating pleasure and maximizes your inventory of sproutables, too.
There is no waste in preparation, no fuel required to prepare them, and once you get the hang of it, practically no failures. Sprouting is not only one of the keys to nutritional stability—a potential lifesaver—but is also a great money-saver. Children especially like to help with this kitchen duty. In fact, most elementary schools teach sprouting as part of the curriculum. A child's natural inquisitiveness will help him master sprouting in a short time, leaving more of your time for the more complicated and time-consuming household and kitchen duties. There are so many ways to utilize sprouts, they would fill many cookbooks! Before going to the cost and effort to buy other books on sprouting, try some of the following ideas first. Should you need additional information about advanced sprouting techniques, find a book by searching the Internet for Sprouting information.
Suggested Uses for Sprouts
Bean sprouts are even more palatable and digestible when cooked before eating, and any anti-nutrients in the bean family are nullified when cooked.
Home-baked goods: Enhance by adding whole or chopped sprouts.
Baked beans: Add any sprouted bean with short sprout—best when bean has just split open by plant growth—try lentil, mung, lima, pinto, or navy bean sprouts.
Breads: Ordinary homemade breads become more eye-appealing with sprouts peeking through the crust and seen throughout the loaf. Sprouts add great taste and greater nourishment in each delicious slice! Some care is required when adding or substituting sprouts in bread recipes. The basic rule for substituting sprouts in any bread recipe is:
Substitute 1 C. sprouts in any bread or flour recipe for 1/2 C. flour and 1/2 C. liquid.
Bread making Notes:
Exercise care when using sprouts in bread making. Sprouts are an abundantly rich source of enzymes. Some of these enzymes have the ability to digest protein, so yeast action will be inhibited and will result in heavy bread.
NOTE: When substituting sprouts in bread recipes, be aware of these potential problems:
If the yeast does not fully react in the dough, the dough will produce heavy bread.
When adding sprouts to yeast goods, add them as late as possible in the mixing process, and then be sure dough is warm and working.
Do not allow dough to sit too long with sprouts added—the dough may sour.
Try some of the following to add zest and nutrition to a sedate breakfast:
Omelets & scrambled eggs – Add chopped or whole alfalfa, chia, clover, mustard, or radish sprouts for a bright-eyed start to your day.
Pancakes and waffles – Ground or finely chopped buckwheat sprouts enhance nutrition in an ordinary breakfast.
When using sprouts in casseroles, add them just a few minutes before serving, either in the pan or sprinkled on top. Sprouts add vitality and flavor to any casserole.
Casseroles – Add 1/2 C. to 1 C. whole or chopped sprouts—adzuki, barley, cabbage, chia, clover, corn, lentil, mung, spinach, or wheat.
Eat sprouts fresh and uncooked for a taste treat. Create your own combinations. Get creative with sprouts, and you'll certainly be healthier and less harassed in preparing nutritious meals.
Basic sprout salad – Perhaps the easiest sprout salad to make: mix a handful of chilled sprouts, whether one kind or a combination, in a bowl. Then pour French, Italian, Russian, bleu cheese, or plain homemade mayonnaise over them and stir until sprouts are lightly covered.
Deluxe salad – Add sprouts to your lettuce salad–alfalfa, mung, chia, radish, or wheat–or combine them!
Lettuce substitute – Use sprouts as a substitute for lettuce altogether in your favorite salad.
Coleslaw – Substitute chopped cabbage sprouts for cabbage. For a different taste, add some radish sprouts!
Potato salad – Add alfalfa, lentil, mung, or radish sprouts to ―"liven up" your potato salad recipe.
Improve the flavor and nutrition of your favorite sandwich by adding sprouts. Try these additions to your diet:
Chicken salad or tuna salad: Alfalfa sprouts are better than lettuce–cheaper, and more easily available!
Lettuce substitute: Use any sprout or combination of sprouts to replace lettuce–alfalfa, chia, clover, lentil, mung, or radish.
Avocado (mashed): Spread thickly on fresh, home-baked whole-wheat bread. Top with alfalfa, barley, clover, or chia sprouts.
Super sandwich spread: Add to salad spread mixture chopped or ground alfalfa, chia, clover, lentil, mung, and/or radish sprouts.
Sprout cheese filling (or dip): Add ground or chopped alfalfa, clover, lentil, mung, or radish sprouts to softened cream or Neufchatel cheese.
Grilled cheese: Top hot sandwiches with alfalfa, chia, clover, lentil, lettuce, mung, sesame, or watercress sprouts for added flavor.
If you like the flavor of any particular bean, seed, or grain, you can make it into a sprout soup. Simply sprout your selection, add 1 C. sprouts into boiling water slowly, then cover and simmer. Cook till tender or to your preference. Season to taste. Serve hot.
BASIC SPROUT SOUP
1 C. sprouts (your choice of vegetable seed) 1/2 C. sour cream
1 C. water 1 tsp. soy sauce
pinch of parsley salt & pepper to taste
Add sprouts to boiling water. Reduce heat, simmer 3–5 min., and then stir in sour cream. Season to taste with soy sauce. Sprinkle parsley on top just before serving.
2 C. bean sprouts 2 eggs, beaten
4 C. vegetable broth or soup 1 T. soy sauce
dash MSG (optional) salt
Add sprouts to broth. Simmer 8–10 min. Remove from heat and stir in beaten eggs. Season to taste with soy sauce.
Sprouts are vegetables. They may be boiled, baked, or sautéed as any other vegetable, served alone, or in combination with other vegetables. The number of recipes for sprouts is endless because they can be added to almost any vegetable or meat dish to improve taste and nutritional value. The secret to gaining the most nutritional value from sprouts is to cook them as little as possible. The following recipes will guide you in utilizing sprouts as vegetables.
BASIC SPROUT VEGETABLE SOUP
1 C. sprouts of choice pinch salt
2 C. water 1/2 T. butter
Add sprouts to boiling salted water, reduce heat, and simmer 3–5 min. Remove from heat, add butter, and cover for 20 min. Serve hot. Serve alone or with bacon, cheese—whatever!
Note: The BASIC SPROUT VEGETABLE recipe may be used as a basic ingredient for many recipes
What Not to Sprout
Caution – Here are the two most important things not to sprout:
Don't sprout seeds intended for agricultural use. They are generally treated with poisonous insecticides and may not be safe for human consumption.
Don't sprout tomato or potato seeds—they are generally poisonous to humans.
Special Treatment for "Reluctant" Sprouting Seeds
There are some seeds that need special treatment to achieve sprouting. There are two methods for success with the following two categories of "reluctant sproutables."
"Paper-Towel" Sprouting Method
Use this method when the seeds are large or have thick skins, such as nuts.
Use a large glass baking dish or metal pan that won't rust.
Place a baking or cooling rack in the dish or pan.
Spread two layers of dampened paper towels on the raised rack to make a sprouting "bed."
Place pre-soaked seeds on moist—not sopping wet—towels.
Cover seeds with another two layers of moist (with all excess water squeezed out) paper towels, leaving ends and sides open so air can circulate.
Rinse frequently as indicated in the Basic Sprouting Guide. Remove seeds from between damp towels when rinsing. Use a sieve, strainer, or colander to contain them while rinsing in running water, then return seeds to the damp paper towels. Thoroughly moisten paper towels by re-soaking, then wringing them out during each rinsing cycle.
Keep the seeds moist between rinses by sprinkling only the top layer of paper towels.
Remove sprouted seeds from sprouting bed when ready to eat. Store sprouts tightly covered in refrigerator to preserve their freshness.
"Sprinkle" Sprouting Method
This method of sprouting reluctant seeds is for mucilaginous seeds such as chia, flax, and watercress. Here's how to deal with these seeds:
Eliminate the normal pre-soaking of these seeds. Instead, cover with just enough water to wet seeds. Pour off excess water. Allow seeds to sit for an hour. If seeds seem to dry out too quickly, sprinkle them lightly with a little water.
Seeds will form a jelly-like, gelatinous mass. Do not remove the "jelly". The seeds will sprout in the jelly, and there is no need to rinse them if you keep the jelly moist by sprinkling the seed mass regularly.
When the seeds have reached the edible stage, rinse the seeds in cold running water until the jelly is washed away. Use soon, as these seeds are prone to drying out and/or molding quickly.
BASIC SPROUTING CHART
BASIC SPROUTING CHART (Continued)
BASIC SPROUTING CHART (Continued)
© 1995, 2009 Making the Best of Basics––Family Preparedness Handbook, by James Talmage Stevens. All rights reserved. No part of this chart may be reproduced or transmitted, in any form or by any means, without the Author's prior written permission.
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WHO YOU GONNA CALL? RESOURCES
MINI-DIRECTORY FOR SPROUTING RESOURCES
Disclaimer: No representations are made as to the availability, quality, or value of any supplier or supplies from any source mentioned herein. Nor do we represent that the information herein is correct, valid, or current as of publication. There are many other suppliers of these and similar products, and in no manner do we intend to indicate this list is either complete or accurate. It is the result of my personal effort to gather data and is an undertaking of research in a dynamic market. Additional industry information is solicited from all sources to help make this a more complete Preparedness Resource Directory.
No listing in this edition should be considered an endorsement, nor should exclusion be considered a rejection. Indeed, these listings are the beginning of the journey of discovery, not the end of it!
Books about Sprouting, Techniques, and Recipes
The easy and simple process for finding books about sprouting is to go to www.Amazon.com and search in the books section for Sprouting. There you can see the titles, authors, summaries, reviews, availability, publishers, and prices for new and used books. There are lots of books available on eBay, or try the local used bookstores for bargain prices on some of these older volumes.
I have these treasures in my library:
Natural Meals in Minutes, Rita Bingham
Quick Wholesome Foods Video, Rita Bingham
The Complete Sprouting Cookbook, Karen Cross Whyte
Sprouting for All Seasons: How and What to Sprout, Including … Recipes, Bertha B. Larimore
Sprout Handbook, Stuart Wheelwright
Sprout It!, Steve Meyerowitz
Sprouting Book, The, Ann Wigmore
Sprouting for Health, Handy Pantry
Sprouting Seeds & Equipment Sources