Do you like sprouts? Do you know you can grow them yourself? Sprouting seeds is an essential part of a food storage plan, especially if you have limited space available to store food.
The only sprouts I had ever eaten were plain, long white mung bean sprouts from the grocery store. Honestly, I didn’t really care for them.
But then I discovered home sprouting and the wide variety of seeds, beans, lentils, and nuts that could be sprouted. My family now eats them on salads and sandwiches and sometimes even just straight from the sprouter!
Yes, they’re that good.
Besides the fact that sprouts are healthy for everyday eating and should be added to your diet for nutritional reasons, sprouting is an excellent prepping skill to have.
What are sprouts?
Sprouts are living foods packed with living enzymes ready to take food to the next level. Sprouting is when the seed starts to become a plant, putting out roots, shoots, and leaves. In other words, they’ve germinated. It’s the shoots and leaves, the sprouts, that are harvested and eaten. They are easily digestible and nutritious, adding a satisfying crispness to other foods.
Why is sprouting seeds a good prepping skill?
There are at least five benefits to including sprouting in your prepping arsenal:
Sprouts tend to contain higher levels of essential amino acids, with certain individual amino acids increasing by as much as 30%. In addition, the proteins in sprouts may also be easier to digest. This makes sprouts a highly desirable option during hard times, when access to a fresh, non-meat/dairy source of protein may be limited.
Broccoli sprouts, for example, are one of the most nutritious… eating one ounce of broccoli sprouts gives you as many antioxidants as 3 pounds of mature broccoli! Check out this link for a list of nutritional content for the most popular sprouts.
It’s important to note, however, that while sprouts are nutrient-dense, they are not calorie-dense. Your food storage needs both. Read more here and here about the importance of calories in your food prep.
2. Garden Indoors All Year
You can grow food indoors even when it’s a blizzard outside.
Seriously, if you live in an extreme climate that limits your outside growing months, sprouting seeds is a way to grow a variety of fresh greens year-round. No dirt under the nails, no back-breaking work, no worries about early frost.
If you have a security reason for not gardening outside, you can still have fresh greens by sprouting indoors. In fact, you can hide them even more if needed by putting your spouters inside a cabinet, under a bed, etc. Sprouts do not need any light for growth. Exposure to sunlight at the end of growing activates the chlorophyll and greens up the sprouts, but it’s not a requirement for taste or nutrition.
You can sprout seeds on the go by taking your sprouter in the car or even by putting it inside a backpack. In a bug-out situation, you can carry a great deal of food in very little space. (See #5.)
5. Shelf Life and Compact Storage
Sprouting seeds have a shelf life of 1 to 5 years depending on the variety. Refrigerating can double the lifespan while freezing can extend it 4 to 5 times. See a full list here.
Most sprouting seeds are very small but grow exponentially. A single pound of alfalfa sprouting seeds, for example, can produce 7 pounds of edible food!
Are there any drawbacks to sprouting seeds?
The only potential “downside” with sprouting during emergency situations is the amount of water needed. Sprouts need to be initially soaked and then rinsed twice a day. If access to safe water is an issue, it could be difficult to impossible to grow the sprouts.
However, sprout water does not need to be discarded. In fact, the water used for the initial soak is full of nutrients that could be consumed as is, used as soup stock, or as needed to reconstitute dehydrated or freeze-dried foods.
How do I grow sprouts?
Sprouting is so easy, a child can do it. (In fact, most of us experienced sprouting a bean seed as a science experiment.) If you can measure and rinse seeds, you can sprout!
The basic process involves sprinkling some seeds in your sprouter kit, rinsing and draining, and repeating for several days. Then, voila’, watch them grow! Easy peasy! For best results, follow the directions that come with your sprouter and with your seeds.
What equipment do I need for sprouting seeds?
No special equipment is required. All you really need is a sprouter. Here are a few options:
- Mason Jar with screen – If you have a mason jar you can buy a screen insert and ring and have a go. Or you could buy a complete set like this or this.
- Four Tray Sprouter – The trays of this version allow you to either sprout a variety of different seeds and beans in one compact footprint, or enable you to stagger your growth by starting the trays a couple of days apart so you have fresh sprouts constantly at the ready. Watch this video to see how this one works.
- The Easy Sprout Sprouter – Simple, compact, and likely the most popular sprouter of all. This one is a must if you want to sprout on the go. Here’s an instructional video to show you just how easy it is!
It’s surprising how quickly sprouts can begin to go bad. All of these options allow you to make relatively small amounts of sprouts that can be eaten within just a couple of days.
Are sprouts safe to eat?
Foodborne illness is a risk with any fresh produce that you eat raw or only cook slightly, if it’s contaminated. If you decide to try sprouting, you should:
- follow food safety guidelines,
- use high-quality seeds suitable for home sprouting produced in a food-grade facility,
- follow manufacturer instructions,
- always use clean hands and clean equipment, and
- never eat sprouts that are off in color, smell, appearance, etc.
What kind of sprout seeds should I buy?
There are so many different types of sprouts out there. Simply dozens and dozens of seeds, beans, lentils, and nuts you can sprout on your own. You’ll need to experiment to find the ones you and your family enjoy. Be bold and try a wide variety to find your own favorites. The best way to do that is to find variety samplers like this one.
My favorite way to grow and eat them, though, is to mix them together for a gourmet treat on salads, sandwiches, and as a topping for stews and soups.
Something that is missing from many emergency food storage pantries are foods that are intensely nutritious, and this is where sprouting seeds can lend a hand. They’re easy to grow, inexpensive, and provide nutrients that are vital to optimal health. Add this new skill to your prepping activities to help you and your loved ones stay healthy no matter what.
Do you sprout seeds? What are your favorites?
This article was originally published on April 18th, 2015 and has been updated.
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