Since sprouts are one of the staples in the vegetarian or vegan diet, many people who follow one of these lifestyles find growing alfalfa sprouts to be a cheaper and more convenient option than purchasing them at the store.
All About Growing Alfalfa Sprouts
Growing alfalfa sprouts is easy as long as you have the right materials. Many natural foods stores even sell growing kits with all that is required.
What You Will Need
To assemble your own kit, get the following:
- Alfalfa seeds
- Quart size glass canning jar
- Nylon stocking (one leg only, not a set of pantyhose)
- Paper towels
- Rubber band
You will need a separate jar for every two tablespoons of alfalfa seeds. One jar per person should be enough for the average household. Feel free to grow more if you really burn through your sprouts.
How to Grow Alfalfa Sprouts
Once you have everything ready, here's how to turn those seeds into sprouts.
- Fill your jar halfway with lukewarm water.
- Add your seeds and put the lid on the jar. Let it set overnight.
- Remove the lid from the jar and lay a paper towel over the opening. Secure it with a rubber band.
- Turn the jar on its side and pour out the water, keeping the seeds inside.
- Take off the paper towel but leave the jar on its side. Separate the seeds with your fingers if they are clumped together.
- Keep your seeds in an area between 70 and 80 degrees. Add more water each day to rinse them, draining them like you did in steps three and four. This will discourage toxins.
As your sprouts begin to grow, they will stick to the sides of the jar and grow to several times their original size, which is absolutely fine. Just move some of them to a new jar if the one you're using gets full and don't forget to rinse each one.
Don't worry too much about leaving the jars in the sun. Sprouts do not require a lot of sunlight. In fact, sometimes they will grow with hardly any light at all. The water is much more important, which is why rinsing and keeping them damp is imperative.
When to Harvest
Your sprouts will be big enough to eat after about one week. At this time you will want to give them heavy exposure to light. It will help them green up and activate their enzymes to make them healthier to eat. All it takes is 20 minutes, but you can leave them longer. It won't hurt them.
Once you've removed your sprouts from the jar, drain them by leaving them in the colander for a couple hours. This will dry them enough that you can store them in the refrigerator without attracting mold or mildew. Eat them within the week while you start on your next batch.
Unfortunately, if you don't grow your sprouts in sanitary conditions you could open yourself up to food poisoning. Here are some things you can do to make sure your sprouts are safe:
- Buy seed that is certified pathogen free.
- Before sprouting your seed, soak it in three percent hydrogen peroxide at 140 degrees for five minutes.
- Skim out any debris mixed in with your seed.
- Sanitize your jars in boiling water for five minutes before using them.
It's recommended that you don't serve your sprouts to children, the elderly or anyone whose immune system is compromised, according to the Food and Drug Administration. In all likelihood no one will get sick from eating the sprouts, especially if you sanitize properly, but it's a big concern if you plan to use them commercially or outside of your immediate family.
If you're pregnant you should consult your doctor before eating homegrown foods.