Any seasoned person that prepares knows that loading up on a supply of nutritious and healthy food is an essential aspect of survival, whether riding out a longer power outage or getting snowed in for several days or weeks (it happened in the Pennsylvania/New York area last year).
While nonperishable foods such as canned soups, granola, and rice are of value in their own ways for a short period of time (watch out for those expiration dates), there’s nothing that can replace eating fresh vegetables. And while you may have a home garden full of different kinds of produce, there’s one seed variety that makes access to fresh vegetables year-round easier and cheaper than any other options--sprouts.
The process of sprouting involves germinating seeds and legumes, and then eating them raw. Sprouts and microgreens can come from green pea, hard red wheat, mung bean, sunflower, red clover, and Chinese cabbage seeds--among others.
Not only are they chock-full of nutrients--sprouts are also delicious additions to soups, salads, sandwiches, stir-fry, bread, omelets, and more. During times where your access to lettuce and other green vegetables is limited, sprouts are a perfect replacement. Especially in the winter!
Read on to discover three concrete benefits to storing and growing sprouting seeds at home, followed by valuable tips to ensure you maximize your sprouting efforts for the best possible outcome...
Benefit #1: Sprouts Are Extremely Healthy
Though they may be small, sprouts are high in nutritional value--a highly desired trait in food when surviving intense living conditions (such as plummeting temperatures during a power outage).
And if you typically have digestive issues eating things like cooked lentils and beans--there’s no need to worry about that when eating the sprouted versions. That’s because the process of sprouting breaks down anti-nutrients commonly found in these kinds of foods--making the process of digestion easier on your body.
Sprouts are a potent source of…
Vitamins and minerals: Sprouts contain important vitamins A, B complex, C, and E and minerals. Though regular vegetables also possess these vitamins, sprouts have concentrated vitamins, and sprouting increases the vitamins C and B content as well as the fiber.
- Broccoli sprouts are high in Vitamin E, an antioxidant that's important for vision, reproduction, and the health of your blood, brain, and skin.
- Radish sprouts have a significant amount of Vitamin C, protecting you from diseases such as scurvy.
Amino acids and enzymes: Sprouts have both high-quality and high-quantity protein in the form of amino acids and enzymes, which aid in digestion and are also believed to work as cancer-fighting compounds.
- Beans, peas, and lentils are among the highest plant food sources of lysine, an amino acid that is necessary for your body’s ability to process and digest food.
- Alfalfa only has about 10 calories per cup, but it's packed with 1.3 grams of protein.
- Mung beans have about 2.5 grams of protein.
- Wheat has maximum protein power--about 8 grams per cup.
Protein is also known to keep you fuller for longer--proving to be useful in hard times when your food supply is limited.
Benefit #2: Sprouts Are Easy to Grow
Maybe you don’t have a green thumb. Or you live in a small apartment and don’t have space for a garden. Perhaps it’s the middle of winter, and most other forms of produce won’t grow. Fortunately, these limitations won’t hold sprouts back. They are extremely easy to grow, as they…
- Grow at all times of the year.
- Don't require any soil--no need to worry yourself with regular pH testing and composting. With sprouts, you simply need water, air, and a little sunshine on the last day or two.
- Don’t require a lot of space--so if you’re an apartment prepper, there’s no need to worry. Whether storing or growing, they are compact and have a long shelf life (1-5 years depending on the variety) before adding water.
- Don't need to be cooked--you don’t need heat or electricity to be able to eat them. You can be as off the grid as you need to be, and consume raw sprouts in as little as three days. As long as you have sunshine and rinse them on a regular daily basis, you’ll be good to go.
Benefit #3: Sprouts Are Inexpensive
Who doesn’t enjoy getting the biggest bang for their buck? Buying commercial sprouts can cost you upwards of $5 a package. But growing your own is extremely inexpensive.
You don’t need to invest heavily in growing equipment either--a mason jar, sprouting bag, or seed sprouter tray works just fine. The benefit of a seed sprouter tray is that it makes it very easy to grow an abundant supply of sprouts.
Knowing that sprouting is an inexpensive food supply solution, there’s no reason to hold back from stocking up on sprouting seeds and growing equipment today.
How to Grow Sprouts
For those who aren’t familiar with the process of growing sprouts, here’s a brief overview:
- Measure out your seeds--large seeds, like peas, garbanzo beans, or sunflower seeds, require about a cup; smaller seeds like alfalfa, broccoli, or radish require about two tablespoons to fill a quart jar or a sprouting tray.
- Soak your seeds for 6-12 hours in a jar or seed sprouter tray filled with water. The warmer the temperature, the less soaking time needed.
- Drain the water and spread the seeds evenly.
- Cover the seeds in the container with a towel, and place away from direct sunlight.
- Rinse and drain the seeds 2-4 times a day, depending on the seed. Check online or on the sprouting seed package to determine the exact amount.
- On about the 3rd or 4th day, it’s time for your sprouts to develop chlorophyll. Place the sprouts in sunlight, whether on a windowsill or kitchen countertop. Continue to rinse and drain twice a day until the sprouts have grown up to 1-3 inches (depending on the sprout).
These are the basics when it comes to growing, but always check specific growing instructions for your sprout type.
4 Tips for Growing Your Sprouts
It always helps to know insider tips to ensure the best yield of sprouts and to keep them fresher for as long as possible. Here are four tips to keep in mind as you embark on your sprouting journey...
Tip #1: Store fresh sprouts properly.
Once you have fresh sprouts, you’ll want to keep them fresh and consumable for as long as possible. The conditions in which you store them have a lot to do with how long they will last.
Using a plastic bag isn’t the answer, as they can go bad quickly without proper ventilation. Instead, purchase a sprout bag, or simply use a glass or plastic container. Store them in your refrigerator or in a cooler location to keep them fresh.
Tip #2: Be aware of each seed variety’s care requirements.
Not all seeds are created equal. Just because they can both be sprouted doesn’t mean a chickpea and lentil will require the same care and attention. For example, soybeans and chickpeas are more difficult seeds as they are poor germinators and require extra cleaning time and attention. And broccoli, alfalfa, and clover require that you clean out the hulls after 3-4 days of growing.
On the other hand, lentils, green peas, spelt, hard wheat, and kamut are known to be easier. Try to start with the easier seeds until you are a more seasoned sprout-growing pro.
Tip #3: Consume sprouts within a few days.
Once your sprouts are ready to eat, don’t expect them to last for weeks on end, even if you keep them refrigerated. Plan your time and supplies right so that your fresh sprouts can be enjoyed immediately, and don’t make more than you and your family can consume within 5-7 days.
Tip #4: Purchase seeds specifically packaged for sprouting.
Seeds purchased from bulk bins at your local grocery store are often intended for cooking and aren’t designed for sprouting purposes. Instead, purchase seeds specifically packaged for sprouting.
Keep these four tips in mind as you move forward in your sprouting activities. You never know when these skills and supplies will come in handy, but one thing we do know for sure is that access to fresh, nutritious vegetables will be essential during tough times.