Sprouting Grains, Legumes and Pulses
Raw, dried grain, beans and lentils are also seeds. They are designed to sprout into plants when activated by water and room temperatures. When this begins, enzymes are activated that cause the ‘germ’ in the centre of the seed to wake up and start sprouting (germination). In the first few days, this releases a fantastic amount of nutrients that was previously locked inside, while it also helps break down compounds and coatings that are often harder for humans to digest. In summary, sprouted foods have been found to be much healthier for us! An added benefit of the process is that, due to easier digestion, the bacteria in our guts that processes these complex carbohydrates do so without creating as much gas in the process, so bloating and flatulence become far less of a problem for us. Amazing! So, how do you do it at home?
Well, just like sprouting seeds for the garden, you need water, warmth and time. You’ll also need:
- A glass jar three times the volume of the amount of grain you want to sprout (e.g. if you want to start with a cup of green lentils, use a three cup size jar).
- A thin weave cloth and elastic band OR sprouting lid
To begin, soak your chosen seeds in water for eight hours/overnight in a covered jar (just to keep bugs out – air is not important at this stage). After soaking, drain* and rinse well, then return to jar. Your seeds will be wet and plump now, but not sitting in water. Cover with cloth and elastic band (or sprouting lid) and sit on a diagonal in a bowl or dish rack, with the opening facing downwards (to let excess water run out**). Leave at room temperature, away from direct sunlight, for at least 24hrs. Repeat the rinse process twice per day to keep seeds fresh and from drying out – this is important! You will see sprouts within the first 24-48hrs depending on what you are using. Let them grow as long as you like, however they will be at their most nutritious when only very small. My favourites are green lentils sprouted for two days, and adzuki beans sprouted for four. These are great eaten raw in salads and stir-frys, or cooked in soups, stews and pies. Grain can also be used in bread-making. These will last a few days in the fridge, however I find mine freeze excellently for a couple of months, so I sprout a big batch occasionally and keep the freezer well stocked. Enjoy!
*When draining and rinsing, try to use the water on the garden or lawn.
**I find you can get away without doing this step if only sprouting one cup or less. The more seeds, the less airflow and evaporation.
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