Remember bean sprouts? You know, those, yummy, crunchy, mysterious things that you’ll sometimes find in salads and sandwiches? If you’ve ever tried buying them at the store, you may have found that they’re very expensive, and they never seem all that fresh. Well as it turns out, it’s much easier and cheaper to grow your own sprouts at home!
Let’s start by defining what sprouts are. When you buy dried beans and grains, they are actually alive, but just sleeping, in a way. When you put them in water, they come back to life, shooting out a fresh, green sprout. Some grains and beans are known for being easily sprout-able, including wheat berries, chickpeas, and lentils – which are what I used in my own sprouting experiment.
There are a few reasons why eating sprouted food is good for you. First of all, in beans, sprouting breaks down the sugars responsible for making beans hard to digest, and activates enzymes that promote good digestion. Sprouting increases the amount of carotene and B vitamins in the beans. The sprouting process also neutralizes phytic acid, allowing your body to better absorb minerals like calcium and iron that are present in beans. In addition, if you end up cooking the sprouted beans, they cook much faster than dried beans.
Now that you know why to sprout, here are the instructions on how to sprout. I used lentils, so I can guarantee they’re easy to sprout. Start with lentils, then move on to whatever bean or grain tickles your fancy!
Step 1. Purchase organic brown lentils. Take half a cup of the lentils and submerge them in cold water overnight, or for about 12 hours.
Step 2. Rinse the lentils in a fine mesh strainer under cold water, and shake out the extra water. Spread the lentils on a plate, and cover them with a damp paper towel or cheesecloth. Just as you would if you were letting bread rise, keep the lentils away from windows or drafts.
Step 3. Rinse the lentils under cold water a few times a day, each time shaking out the extra water. You don’t want any water sitting on the bottom of the plate, under the lentils. Keep rinsing like this for 2-3 days, making sure to spritz the paper towel with water so it remains damp. After 2-3 days, your sprouts will be about 1/4 inch long.
Step 4. Keep the sprouts going for another day or two to get longer, green sprouts. Eat the sprouts raw, or gently sauté or steam them to preserve the good enzymes that have developed during sprouting.