As the days wind on, it seems like the world is getting more, and still more crazy. Seemingly imperceptible changes have taken place over the years to finally affect every facet of life. It seems we have arrived at an impasse, always on the edge of our seats wondering, “What next?” In the meantime, we are continually bombarded from every angle;
• Threats to our environment: with aluminum, strontium and other harmful chemically-laden chemtrails… The radiation threat from Japan’s nuclear plant…. Monsanto’s genetically altered food and the war against our Right to Know… And the list goes on…
• Politically speaking: the governmental shutdown and its secret agenda, causing a disruption in our already-crippled economy and pushing it further into the abyss. “Obamacare,” the new health mandate that is being forced down our throats. Plus the many other political issues that divert our minds and attention, from “Republicans” vs. “Democrats” to illegal immigrants getting drivers’ licenses to the Chinese buying up American businesses and soil. Can’t forget to mention an ever-impending war: on Syria, on drugs, on homelessness, on terror, etc., etc.
There are too many issues going on that it makes my head swim. Some of these are just too unreal but in some way has or will have an effect on each one of us personally. Maybe you have already felt it. I know that I have. Rather than feeling helpless and perhaps more than a bit paranoid at times, I feel encouraged to press on because I know how it will all end. My hopes are centered on Christ, and I don’t need to worry because it’s all been spelled out. Knowing this, does that make it easier to go through these rough times? Yes, because I am not alone. I’m with the One who is in control of it all. Hang on, because it’s going to get rougher and life as we know it will change in ways we cannot imagine.
For now, getting prepared both spiritually and physically occupies the time productively. We can get prepared now and in this way be a help to those who have not had the knowledge or understanding to prepare. This article was written because nutrition is an important factor not only in terms of survival, but being able to survive with our sanity intact. Good nutrition feeds our cells so that we can think and act rationally; a very necessary consideration in light of these troublous times.
(GOOD HEALTH IS YOUR #1 PREPAREDNESS ASSET)
Let’s do all we can do to keep healthy and keep on finding ways to become healthier.
If you are reading this article, chances are that you are already aware of the current situation in our world and what we are faced with, to a lesser or a larger degree. Maybe you have already taken steps to prepare by purchasing and storing those things you might find essential should something happen to take our dependence off of the “grid,” whether through natural disaster or some other circumstance. You got your buckets of rice and beans stored up to last 25 years. And a few ways to cook them. You have your water filtration system in place. You even have an assortment of organic, heirloom seeds. You’ve got this and perhaps more. You might be at a point where you’re thinking you want to have some back-ups for your back-ups. Have you thought about sprouting?
Consider adding fresh, home-grown sprouts to your diet. They are:
• Nutritious: we need fresh, living foods to be healthy. Sprouting makes seeds, grains, beans, and nuts more nutritious and digestible by neutralizing enzyme inhibitors, removing anti-nutrients (phytates), and increasing their vitamin (vitamins A, B, C and E) and mineral content (like calcium, magnesium, potassium, and iron) through the simple act of germination. They are also high in protein, easy to digest and detoxifying to the body system–important in an increasingly toxic world!
• Quick & Easy to Grow: minimal time and effort is involved to grow fresh sprouts and it takes just a few days to a week to enjoy the harvest.
• Tasty & Adds Variety to Diet- there are many types of seeds and many ways to use sprouts in our diets.
• Economical- costs just pennies per serving.
• Excellent for Long-Term Storage-packaged and stored under the right conditions, seeds can last for years.
• Garden Plantable- seeds can certainly be used to grow to mature plants. Allowing mature plants to go to seed will provide you with a continual supply of sprouting seed.
Sprouting is a great way to supplement your diet with fresh, complete nutrition and to add variety to your meals. When not much produce from your garden is available during the winter season, leafy sprouts are an excellent substitute to provide your body with necessary nutrition, but you will still want to enjoy them year round as an addition to your fresh food supply. Sprouts are very economical, costing just pennies per serving and are very easy and quick to grow. And because the seeds store well for long periods of time, they are a great addition to your food storage system. Purchase only organic, non-hybrid sprouting seeds and use the same methods for long-term food storage to preserve this valuable commodity for future use.
Types of Sprouters:
• Glass mason jar with cheesecloth, screen, or plastic screen lid (pre-made).
• Hemp bags
• Wire mesh kitchen strainer
• Sprouting trays: many types, sizes, styles to choose from. They all basically work the same.
Using a nylon mesh screen or cheesecloth fitted over a glass mason jar and held by a rubber band is the most economical. Otherwise, plastic screens that screw onto the tops of a standard wide-mouth mason jar are available at a low cost. These plastic screens are also available with different size holes depending on the type of seed being sprouted. There are also special sprouting trays available if you choose, as well as the more expensive automated watering-type sprouting trays. 100% hemp drawstring bags are also available to use and are best for sprouting larger seeds such as grains or beans. Wire mesh strainers are useful for sprouting larger amounts of the bigger seeds such as buckwheat and lentils. Whatever types of sprouter you choose, you will find it easy to do once you know the basic method.
What Can We Sprout?
Leafy sprouts are the most popular sprouts and are best eaten raw. Beans and Grains are best sprouted and then cooked, though many people do enjoy them and their health benefits when used raw in recipes. Nuts and seeds can be sprouted and used in recipes or dried using a dehydrator or sunpower. Technically not sprouts, “microgreens” are miniature plants harvested a young stage after a few leaves have developed past the cotyledons (first leaves). They are germinated in a soil medium whereas sprouts use water. They are generally eaten as a salad and more often than not used as garnish in dining establishments.
Amount of Seeds
The amount of seed to use for one sprouting session largely depends on the size of the seed. It is best to follow the recommended directions on the individual packaging or with the use of a handy chart, although you’ll find that generally 2-3 tablespoons per batch are used.
Pre-soaking and soaking seeds
• For best results and optimum health benefits, use only certified organic seed.
• Pre-soak seeds with a solution of clean water and 1 capful of hydrogen peroxide or 1 drop of grapefruit seed extract to kill microbes that may be present on the seeds.
• Some sprout seed companies recommend using bleach to kill microbes. Do not use bleach! Bleach is a known dioxin that doesn’t break down, it is a carcinogen as well, and kills the good bacteria not only the bad.
• After pre-soaking in the solution for 10 minutes, drain and rinse the seeds a couple times then add water to cover by at least four times the amount of seed; soak for 6-12 hours. During this time, germination starts and seeds will swell as they take up water so the enzymatic and sprouting process begins.
After the recommended time for soaking, drain the seeds. If you are using sprout trays, then pour the seeds into the tray and rinse generously with water and draining well. If you are using a jar with a screen lid, you will most likely have soaked your seeds directly in the jar. Drain through the screen and add fresh water to rinse. Then drain well and place the jar upside-down at an angle in a bowl. Place your sprouting trays or jar in a location away from direct sunlight in a cool and well-ventilated place. Do not place in a closet for it needs good air circulation. A good place is in the corner of your kitchen on the countertop.
Rinsing and Removing Hulls
Rinse your sprouts 2-3 times a day, draining well each time. Rinsing once in the morning and once in the evening is usually sufficient, but sometimes an extra rinse or two is useful. You may find that some types of seed need this, or if you’re located in hot and humid conditions, they do better with the extra rinses. Be sure to drain the trays or jar well and continue to allow for proper drainage as it sits. Standing water in the seeds or roots allows for bacterial growth to develop.
Leafy sprouts are ready in about 5-7 days depending on air temperature. The warmer it is, the faster they will grow. Once your leafy sprouts have developed to the stage where they are ready to be eaten, they will need a little time in sunlight in order to develop chlorophyll. It is interesting to note that chlorophyll, the blood of plants, has a one molecule difference than our blood. Where we have an iron molecule, chlorophyll has magnesium. The great majority of Americans today are seriously lacking in this vital mineral. Can our bodies use the magnesium sprouts have to provide? Emphatically, yes!
Other than the leafy types of sprouts, the beans, grains, and nuts when sprouted, do not need to have chlorophyll development in most cases. Most seeds in these categories are ready to consume or use in recipes once a tail can be seen (usually a day to a day and a half of sprouting time). However, it is recommended that tails are not grown past ¼” to ½”. Once a tail has developed, store it in the refrigerator until needed. The sprouts continue to grow in the refrigerator, so use quickly.
Maintaining good hygiene practices are important so wash and sanitize sprouting equipment each time you are done using them. If not cleaned and sanitized well, bacteria may grow and cause crop failure. After washing with hot, soapy water and rinsing well, shake out the excess water and give a good spray of hydrogen peroxide. Some types of sprouters are dishwasher safe, so in this case the dishwasher can do the sanitizing for you. Air dry well before starting your next batch of sprouts.
When storing your ready-to-eat sprouts, be sure to rinse and drain them very well. Sprouts can keep very well for a long period of time refrigerated if there is no excess water and placed in a clean, airtight container. Some sprouts can be kept this way for many weeks with the exception of sprouts like mung bean sprouts–their high water content makes them perishable in a short time. Rinse and drain sprouts well once again before consuming, making sure they do not feel slimy or smell “off.” If in doubt, throw them out.
Seeds should be stored in a cool and dry place. In order to extend their viability, package them in enclosed glass containers such as mason jars with lids, along with a moisture absorber packet. For long-term storage, the seeds themselves do better when removed from their original packaging and placed in mylar-sealed bags. (Be sure to label!) They can be placed in a freezer to maximize the length of storage time, or in a refrigerator as well. For seeds that I use on a regular basis, I store them in the refrigerator in a jar. Since moisture is undesirable while storing, be sure to put the seeds back in the fridge right away after taking them out to use them. The condensation can inhibit their growth.
Seeds Types and Factors
Q: Is this mold on my sprouts?
A: In rare instances, there may be a mold problem. Otherwise, it can be mistaken for mold, see next question below. This is how the problem of mold is best tackled. I let my experienced friend from Handy Pantry supply this response:
“Sometimes seeds have a little mold on the outside depending on the crop and what time of year it was harvested. As long as you rinse really well before you eat them you should be okay, but make sure to smell them as well. You can really tell when sprouts are not good for eating. They get a funky smell. With Broccoli it is already a little stinky, so just be sure it doesn’t smell rancid. One thing you can do on your next batch is to add a little, grapefruit seed extract or a ½ to 1 capful of hydrogen peroxide to your water when you are doing the initial soak. This will kill any mold spores that may be on the husk of the seeds. If you don’t want to use either of those, you can add a little lemon juice as well. It is not as strong, but will help. Also be sure that you are not over soaking and that when you rinse you are really mixing the seeds around so that they are exposed to the fresh water and air and that they are draining well. You don’t want the broccoli especially to be sitting in standing water.
Q: If it’s not mold, what else can it be?
I took this extreme close-up shot of some radish sprouts that had been growing about four days. You can see the radish seeds shedding their reddish-brown hulls. My favorite thing about the growing radish sprouts is how the roots grow a fuzz of tiny hairs questing after water. When I rinse them the water weighs the hairs down and temporarily stick them to the sides of the main trunk of the root. A good zoom lens is able to see the effect in much better detail than the human eye. Certain types of sprouts like radish and broccoli tend to have these fuzzy roots, fooling people into thinking it is mold.
Growing sprouts and eating them have many benefits in many situations. A healthy and well-rounded pantry and kitchen, or even a backpack, will be sure to include sprouts.
By Crystal DuBoyce, CNC
Note: This article was an entry in our August – September 2014 writing contest. Click here to find out about our current writing contest.