Microgreens and sprouts are incredibly easy to grow and highly nutritious. Although the words ‘microgreens’ and ‘sprouts’ are often used interchangeably they are quite different. Sprouts are grown without soil and the whole plant that emerges (including the seed husk and any roots) is added to your dish or meal. Microgreens are grown in soil and only the leaves and stems are added to your meal, leaving the rest to regrow. Certain seeds can be eaten as either sprouts or microgreens.
Among the benefits of microgreens and sprouts is their nutritionally rich content: with numerous studies of the benefits of sprouts suggesting occurrences like higher levels of digestible proteins and positive results for those with diabetes or heart disease, among other benefits.
Some seeds are often more prone to mould in sprout form but have less risk of mould in microgreen form. Once you know which seeds are best for each method you can get the maximum benefit from your microgreens and your sprouts.
Growing Sprouts At home
Sprouts can be grown from a wide range of seeds, beans and lentils. Your faster-germinating seeds usually make the best sprouts. You will be amazed at how easy it is to grow your own sprouts at home. It is an easy activity for the kids to get involved in or turn into an arts-and-crafts project (Browse our activities for kids for more great ideas). The best seeds to make sprouts:
- Mung Beans
- Black Beans
- Non-GMO Soya Beans
- Whole Brown Lentils
- Sunflower Seeds
- Whole Grain Spelt
Important Tips When Growing Sprouts:
- ALWAYS use edible food-grade seeds for sprouts. Not only are these seeds easy to get but, since sprouts are consumed inclusive of the seed casing it is important the seed is safe to eat. Seeds that are not normally eaten as food can be prone to mould or other residues. If you do opt for seeds like alfalfa, broccoli, radish or others that are not normally food grade be sure to check that the appropriate tests are done to make them suitable for human consumption. In South Africa, as in many parts of the world, there is a big difference between seeds that are used for agriculture and edible seeds suitable for consumption in raw form. Not using food-grade seeds could mean you are exposing yourself to harmful seed treatment chemicals or other toxins or moulds.
- Sprouts can be prone to moulds. Whichever type of sprout you choose to make, be sure to follow the best methods to avoid mould growth on your sprouts and rinse your sprouts before eating, preferably in a baking soda and water solution before eating or thoroughly drying prior to storing in the refrigerator.
Microgreens are slightly different from sprouts. Be sure to check out our next article on how to grow microgreens and which seeds are best.
The Best Method for Growing Sprouts
- Place ½ cup seeds in a nut milk bag or sprouting container.
- Submerge the bag in water overnight.
- Remove the bag from the water, rinse the seeds in clean water.
- Hang the bag in a well-ventilated area where it can drip dry for a few hours.
- Over the course of the day, submerge the bag again for 20 minutes before removing it from the water, rinsing seeds and hanging to drip dry again for a few hours.
- Repeat the process until the water used to submerge the bag of seeds is clear. How many times the process will need to be repeated depends on the seeds being used. Buckwheat is very starchy and requires more rinsing at first than other sprouting seeds, for example.
- In coming days, drain and rinse twice daily until sprouts emerge. Some seeds take up to 5 days to germinate, some will sprout within 48 hours.
- Once sprouts reach the desired length, drain well and enjoy immediately
Tips to ensure the best quality sprouts every time.
- Always ensure your sprouts are well ventilated and as much of the liquid is able to drain away as possible to prevent mold growth.
- Once your sprouts have reached the desired length either eat immediately or transfer to a covered container and keep in the fridge.
- Consume your sprouts within 2 days of them reaching the desired size.
For more great recipes check out our natural recipes.