Preparing To Sprout
Prepare Your Seeds for Sprouting
Whilst there is a wealth of information on the internet on how to prepare, soak, rinse, drain and store your seeds for sprouting, the best information we found was available on this website. Here is some basic information – but please do follow the links in the article if you require additional information.
Though it not always necessary, it is always a good idea to clean your seeds before you Soak them. Besides rinsing them, you should also consider adopting the habit of culling through your seeds*. Beans especially should be culled because they can contain non-seeds (bean shaped rocks, or compressed clumps of earth though rare are not unknown - - they were grown on a farm after all). Small seeds are too small to cull, but Radish and all seeds bigger should be checked for plant parts, pebbles, broken or obviously messed-up seeds or seeds that just don't belong (weed seeds for example). Most of that stuff will work its way out as your crop progresses. Most plant pieces or damaged seed will float and can be poured off after soaking. If any are present (rare, rare, rare) weed seeds will not sprout or will be so minimal as to be unnoticeable. Any bits of earth will likely break apart and rinse away as your crop progresses. It's little rocks that you should watch out for (they are rare to be sure - it may take you hundreds of crops to find even one, but you really should check). What we are saying is: we are not liable for anything that happens as a result of the presence of unwanted objects in the seed we sell. Sorry, it is just a liability thing - welcome to the 21st century in the US of A. You will find that some of our seed information pages contain the Seed-Prep step while others do not. Though we ourselves, when sprouting, perform the Seed-Prep only on a few seeds, we suggest that you should develop better habits and do it on all of them. It just NEVER hurts to check your seed and rinse it before Soaking!
Certain seeds have more of a need than others:
- Mung Beans are grown in China and are sometimes, even these days, dried on dirt roads. Not surprisingly they can be a bit dusty as a result.
- Alfalfa and Clover (and therefore all of our Leafy sprout blends) are polished. Polishing is a modern method of seed scarification which is intended to make the seed take up water more readily and thereby germinate faster. Polishing is like sanding and it does have the downside of leaving behind - for you and us to clean - the dust created as the seed's coat is sanded down. The positive aspect far outweighs that however. The old scarification method - still used on much of the seed you can buy for sprouting (never from us though!), involves breaking the seed coat by scratching it. The vast majority of pathogen problems that the sprout industry has dealt with since the late 1990s have to do with those broken seed coats, so though you sometimes have to rinse and rinse and rinse these seeds to clean them, you know they are whole and safe!
- Radish seeds often contain some wild sunflower and buckwheat in their number. We don't remove them before soaking - it would be time consuming - but we get rid of them when we De-Hull - when the crop is done.
- Some Grains will have a certified organic (and edible) insect powder (diatomaceous earth) on them to keep grain weevils (little tiny insects that eat a perfect hole right through a kernel of grain) at bay. We very rarely have grain that has this powder on it. We prefer freezing which is another way to control grain weevils, but if your grain is powdery, just rinse like you would any other seed before Soaking.
There are other examples, but you'll find out about those seeds when you see their detailed information pages. Like we say: Culling through your seeds before prep is a good habit, but don't lose any sleep over it - after all, we sell very good seeds - we sprout so much that we just couldn't possibly stand to deal with bad seeds!
- You can use a sieve or colander for this task as long as your seeds won't fall through the holes. Some of our Sprouters are perfect for this too. These are the best and in both cases, you can Prep and just move right on to sprouting:
- Whether you use a Sprouters or your own container, it should be at least very clean and even better, sterile. You should scrub it well and rinse with hydrogen peroxide 35% food grade, to rinse the container.
- Put your seeds in the Sprouter or other thing and run water through them until the water runs clear. Stir the seeds up with a spoon, fork or use high pressure water to make sure they are all getting well bathed. That's all there is to it.
As a rule, real sprouting seeds (those grown by farmers for, or supplied by dealers to the sprout industry) have gone through an amazingly complete cleaning process and rarely will you find anything other than high germinating seeds, but despite the best efforts of cleaning screens, gravity tables and the rest; non-seeds and similarly sized weed seeds, small rocks or bits of soil can get through (This is farming after all - we have to accept certain realities.) - they just feel and weigh too much the same as the seed being cleaned to be recognized by the equipment. So, you really should inspect your seeds a bit - whether you do so before you begin or after you harvest your crop.
Sprouting seeds should vary from other seeds in several ways. They should have a high germination rate. They should have been cleaned beyond the level of seeds not sold to the sprout industry. They should have been tested for pathogens. These are all true in the case of the seed we sell. It is not likely so with seeds and beans you buy off the shelf at a store. Those seeds are often intended for cooking and need not be subjected to the additional processes and expense! That is why we tell people to buy seed from a source they trust. Do not be stopped from sprouting if your store-bought seeds don't sprout! Lentils sold for soup may have been stored poorly for a long time - if you are cooking them it hardly matters. They may sprout just fine, but if they don't, then buy some that you know are fresh and clean and intended for sprouting! Buy from someone who is selling SPROUTING SEED! Someone you Trust!
Make sure all the seed you purchase has been tested by the suppliers and is certified free of pathogens. Nowadays the conventional (non-organic) sprout industry demands that all seeds not only be washed but also soaked in a toxic bleach solution (equivalent to 1 part household bleach to 1 part water) to make the seeds "safe". As you probably know, if you're this far into our site, we have quite a different opinion. It is - in our opinion - hardly worth eating sprouts if you feel the need to bleach them. Bleach kills the good bacteria which we are, as mammals, dependent upon, bleach is a dioxin which does not break down in nature and so pollutes the planet and if that isn't enough - it is a known carcinogen.
The Basics of Sprouting
- Seed Storage: Keeping your dormant seeds happy.
- Soaking: Turning a dormant seed into a nutritional powerhouse.
- Rinsing: Water is the key ingredient in sprouts. Use it liberally.
- Draining: It is essential that sprouts be drained thoroughly after rinsing. Sitting in a puddle is the most common cause of crop failure.
- Air Circulation: If your sprouts can’t breathe while growing - they can die. Don’t put them in a closed cabinet.
- Greening: Photosynthesis is cool, and so is Chlorophyll, but not all sprouts are into it, nor is it necessary. Sprouts of all colors are packed with flavor and nutrition!
- Cleanliness: Your seed should be clean and your sprouting device should be sterile. Wash your sprouter well between crops. Sterilize when necessary.
- Storage: Properly stored, fresh sprouts will keep for up to 6 weeks in your refrigerator but fresher is better. Never refrigerate wet sprouts.
- Yields approximately 1 Cup of Sprouts
- Seed Prep Measure out 1/2 Cup of seed* Rinse your seeds to remove dust or plant debris.
- Soak: Transfer your seeds - if necessary - into your Sprouter, or a bowl. Add 2-3 times as much cool (60-70 degree) water. Mix seeds up to assure even water contact for all. Allow seeds to soak for 8-12 hours.
- Sprouting: Empty the seeds into your sprouter (if necessary). Drain off the soak water. You can use it - it has nutrients in it.
- Rinse thoroughly with cool (60-70°) water. Drain thoroughly.
- Set your sprouter anywhere out of direct sunlight and at room temperature (70° is optimal) between Rinses. This is where your sprouts do their growing. We use a counter top - in the corner of our kitchen, but where the sprouter won't get knocked over by cats, dogs, children, or us. We don't mind the indirect sunlight or the 150 watts of incandescent light, because light just does not matter much. Your Bean Sprouts will never have leaves, and a plant can only perform photosynthesis when it has leaves. Until then light has little if any effect, so don't hide your sprouts. Plus, they like air circulation.
- Rinse and drain again in 8-12 hours. And, once more... Rinse and drain again in 8-12 hours. And, perhaps once more... in 8-12 hours.
- We stop no later than here. We like our sprouts small. Typically, we sprout for just 2-4 rinse and drain cycles. At that point, most of the seeds will have sprouted tiny (1/16 - 1/4 inch) roots. That's the way we like our Bean Sprouts.
- Depending on your climate and the time of year you are sprouting and most importantly your personal preference - You may rinse and drain again at 8-12 hour intervals for up to 4 - 5 days. We Do Not recommend any longer than that, unless you're doing a science experiment. Grow them for as long as you like. As long as you continue to rinse and drain every 8-12 hours. If you grow for a week you'll get some plants growing as well as roots.
- As always, we suggest that you taste your crop at EVERY rinse - including the very first - just after the soak period. The soaked seeds are already alive and super nutritious - and - they are without enzyme inhibitors (a very good thing indeed!) so they'll digest themselves and nourish you. So, taste them often and find out for yourself when they are most delicious! That's when they're done.
- Harvest Your sprouts are done 8-12 hours after your final rinse. Be sure to Drain them as thoroughly as possible after that final rinse. The goal during the final 8-12 hours is to minimize the surface moisture of your sprouts - they will store best in your refrigerator if they are dry to the touch.
- Refrigerate: Transfer your sprout crop to a plastic bag or the sealed container of your choice and put them in your refrigerator.
How To Sprout - Day-By-Day
Watch this Open Source Video for a step by step explanation and demonstration on how to sprout.