Garden, Plant, Cook!

Friday, January 08, 2016

Sprouting Salads - REAL FOOD - FAST - Anytime Anywhere.

Dear Folks,

It must have been kismet that I decided to sprout some beans and lentils, inspired by a project I'm working on, that Greg Peterson at The Urban Farm, posted (a few days after I started my first batch) a podcast with a master sprouter, Peter Burke

Listen to this fun podcast, check out the Urban Farm website for sources and Peter's book and website for seed supplies.

One of the ongoing discussions about alternative methods of trying to grow more food in best and healthiest ways are around the idea of hydroponic, aquaponic, vertical gardens and other not-in-the-ground methods of producing food.  One of the other parts of the discussions are about how much of the alternative growing methods focus on lettuces and not much else.

WELL . . . here is where sprouting beans and other legumes along with grains, seeds and nuts comes more completely into focus.  Although there is not as much information on the nutrition of sprouted beans etc. vs. the dried and cooked, the "general" consensus is when harvested in the early stages of sprouting the sprouts have near identical nutrition to the dried bean, nut or seed.  If you check at the site below, you will see 100 grams (3.5 ounces measured dry or wet) of lentils dried as 9 grams of protein and 7 grams of fiber.  The sprouted ones show 9 grams of protein and the fiber is not listed but we can safely presume the fiber is equal or similar.

So spouting your legumes etc. is not just growing lettuce, it is growing a far more nutritious group of FRESH foods daily.

If you missed my post on 2016 The International Year of Pulses (legumes), here is the link where I have information on the dried via a great nutrition information site - called - I gravitated right away to the name because I use a variant "herbalicious" for growing and using herbs in cooking.  :-)

So, back to my sprouting.  I used to sprout on a sort of regular basis many years ago, but it fell by the wayside when I fully realized I could grow everything OUTSIDE!  So much of the literature and emphasis years ago on sprouting was all about fresh greens, indoors, in the cold winter.

So I drifted away from sprouting.  I've come back full circle, in part because of the project (I will update with more info later - it is a cookbook), but also because of my cabin fever due to ALL OF THE RAIN we are having and the COLD weather which came with the year-end and new year.  I do not do cold well, even desert cold, and it gets worse for me each year so I time my garden activities for the mid-day if I can.

AND I have lovely greens etc. growing now in the garden, but I wanted to plant more and it ain't happening while it is cold or this rainy.

FYI Sow seeds in the garden AFTER the rain otherwise you risk them being washed away - or start in your choice of germinating medium and location then transplant out when the sun if back out - that is for winter gardening - hot weather starting and transplanting is done differently.

After I planted my potatoes on New Year's Day, out in the garden (my annual tradition to jump into new year gardening), I decided to soak some garbanzo beans and green lentils.  A quarter cup (1/4) each.  Since it has been a long time since I sprouted I misjudged on how much volume I would get and it just the two of us, so I had enough sprouts for 4 days for some stews, soups and salads :-)  The quarter cup each resulted in 3 cups of total sprouts in just a little over 2 days.

This was also the first ever time I sprouted garbanzos and lentils.  The Sprout People suggest tasting at all rinsing times to see when you like them best.  Once you get to that taste preference, refrigerate and use.  I really liked the nutty flavor of the garbanzos - different from the cooked bean or hummus, which I love. The lentils were very mild in flavor and tasty.  The combination worked great with a beef stew I made and a mixed green garden salad (I have red romaine, curly escarole, arugula and red sails lettuces growing along with my red scallions, dressed in my Limequat vinaigrette dressing made with avocado oil and my dried Mexican Oregano.

I began another batch only this time with 2 tablespoons of the green lentils and 1/4 cup of the garbanzo beans to try and get a better balance. It sort of worked :-)  The lentils just fluff more.  This batch started January 5th is ready today (7th) or the 8th depending on how long I want them to continue to growth. In the picture I wanted you to see just how much they grow.  Left to right as you look at the picture, Day one morning 10 a.m., that evening 7 p.m. already doubled, and this morning at 5 a.m. (the 7th) the volume is about triple and this is from 2 tablespoons of lentils and a 1/4 cup of garbanzo beans I will have right around 2 cups (that is a pin jar) when I refrigerate them this evening or tomorrow morning.

The nutrition of sprouted legumes is approximately the same as the cooked version and you have the option of cooking the sprouts, drying them, grinding them for dips etc.  Your choice, but to have some lovely fresh tasting veggies, when you might not otherwise have access to something to fresh, even from your gardens is a win / win.

As Peter Burke notes in the podcast, this is done with out special lights, trays or setups.  You can have a succession of just sprouts, as I'm showing, or micro greens as Peter notes, going for a daily fresh harvest.

If you are new to the idea of sprouting beans, seeds or nuts, there is a lot of info on The Sprout People site and also Peter Burke's site (link through the Urban Farm link at the top of this post).

How To Sprout

The basic is this, choose which WHOLE bean, seed, grain, or nut you wish to sprout.  Do keep in mind just how much they swell the ratio is from 2:1 all the way up to 5:1, so if you are not careful you can easily wind up with a gallon of sprouts, all at once from as little as a cup of starting dried.

Place in glass jar - mason jars work really well.  Sure you can buy sprouting set ups and there are lots of options out there but the good old glass jar works great.  You need a perforated lid for ease of rinsing and also to let air in so the wet sprouts don't mold etc.

Rinse very well to remove any dust and check for debris.  By their very nature legumes, seeds etc must be harvested dry and kept dry - they do not even rinse them at the farm or store because of the possibility of mold.

Then fill the jar so they are covered by at least twice as much water to bean ratio.

Set aside in a non-breezy area - counter, cupboard or pantry works, for 10-12 hours or overnight.  In the morning rinse well and drain well put the cap back on and lay the jar on its side shaking to get the beans to spread out in the jar*.

Your choice as to whether to rinse every 12 hours or 3 times a day - either works fine.  The point is to rinse well, drain well and return to resting position.

Taste at each rinse and observe for how long you want the shoots to grow and how you like the taste.  Anywhere from 2 to 7 or 8 days - its your choice. The shoots will start to develop tiny hairs (the true roots) after several days - some folks like that, some do not.

Give one final rinse when you like where they are at, drain well, cap with top (not the rinsing top) and refrigerate.  Use and enjoy.

* I learned the hard way yeas ago that if you leave the jar upright you get a huge MASS of tangled beans and shoots and if you have a husk from the seed - it is more difficult to rinse those away (if you choose - some folks like the extra fiber of the husk/hull).  Once rinsed and refrigerated you can store however it suits you, in jars or a special container or ziplock bags.  I use the mason jars for this also.

Sprouts are not just for people.  Chickens and Ducks love them too.  Lisa over at Fresh Eggs Daily sprouts the feed grains for her 'girls' and they love it.  She also has a sprouter cap tip which is a great idea.  When you see it you will realize there are many types of material that can be used as the "mesh" cover:  some are wire, some people have used cheese cloth (not a good idea the shoots will start to penetrate it and break when you try to get them out, and then there is the cover I show in my pictures.  These are OLD styles of plastic caps made specifically for sprouting in mason jars and I was lucky enough to be gifted these years ago by Deane's mom.  You can still probably find them with a google search.  I believe Jarden (Ball/Mason) has a special lid for the mason jars for sprouting.

If you, like I, have not sprouted beans etc. in a while, give it another go.  Simple, easy, fresh and REAL FOOD FAST!

Find my books at Amazon, Changing Hands online Bookstore, Barnes & Noble and My publisher.


January 8 -- private lecture (not at Farmers Market due to schedule conflict)
January 13 -- private lecture
January 15 -- Mesa Community Farmers Market - every Friday 9 a.m. - 1 p.m.
January 22 -- FREE SEED SHARE at the Mesa Community Farmers Market
February 20 -- Saturday Lecture at Mesa Urban Garden (MUG) 1:30 p.m. Details TBD)

-- Catherine, The Herb Lady

Catherine is available for consulting and as a speaker.  Use the contact form on the website to inquire for your group or event.  You can email direct to:    catherine at herbs2u dot net

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