Sprout Week: How to.

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1. Pick through and discard any broken, mouldy, discoloured or disfigured seeds, nuts or legumes/bean. Remove black, dark brown or green coloured mouldy seeds. They can contain harmful toxins that you would want to avoid, whether you are sprouting or cooking them. Try to get organic seeds from Australia as imported food is often irradiated, and old. Ideally you want young and ‘alive’ seeds. The freshness of the seeds will often depend on how successful your sprouting is.

2. Next, wash them and then soak them in cool to tepid, filtered or spring water. Soaking time varies between 4 and 12 hours, depending on the size and hardness of the seed. Large hard beans such as chickpeas need 12 hours, whereas small soft seeds like buckwheat, amaranth, quinoa and many vegetable seeds only need 4 hours. Rinse them and change the water every couple of hours while they soak. (See chart I posted yesterday for soaking times.) Or just keep the seeds/beans damp for a longer period. They still need rinsing 2-3 times per day.

3. After rinsing, keep the seeds damp and aired but not wet, otherwise there’s a chance of them going mouldy. I use a ‘sprouter’ (picture posted last Monday), or put them in a large sieve, and rinse them under the tap a couple of times a day. You can also put them in a jar, with a piece of material or muslin over the top, tied on with a string or rubber band. (You can also buy special sprouting jars.)

4. Some seeds start to sprout in a few hours and larger ones can take two or more days to begin sprouting. Within 2-5 days most of the bigger seeds, nuts and beans are ready. They are ready when the root (not the shoot, which is longer) is the length of the seed.

5. Once they are ready, give them a final rinse and drain well. You can use a salad spinner to do this or just let let them dry naturally for 8-12 hours. They must be thoroughly dry before you store them in an airtight container for up to a couple of weeks in the fridge.

Tips: Sprouting is encouraged in slightly salty and acid water, so you can add a pinch of sea salt and a spoon of vinegar; keep your sprouting seeds and grains out of full sunlight. Natural light is OK, but full sunlight will encourage leafing. They like it at around 18oC.

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