“Sprouting Beans, Grains, and Seeds,” Ensign, Oct. 1999, 72–73
When seeds are purchased in bulk quantities and sprouted at home, they provide a low-cost source of high-quality food. In addition to the more well-known alfalfa and bean sprouts often found in supermarkets, there are also many other varieties of seeds, beans, and grains that work well for sprouting: adzuki beans, black-eyed peas, whole green peas, hulled sunflower seeds, lentils, wheat, garbanzo beans, and others. Experiment with different varieties to find those your family likes best. When choosing seeds, beans, or grains, avoid those that have been treated with fungicides or poisons. Also, seeds stored with carbon dioxide or nitrogen sprout poorly or not at all.
Sprouting seeds and grains rather than cooking or grinding them into flour provides a natural source of vitamins and enzymes. Enzymes are special proteins that cause biochemical reactions, such as the breakdown of food for digestion. Because cooking temperatures destroy some enzymes and vitamins, it is important that our daily diet includes fresh, uncooked foods. When only cooked food is consumed, the body must draw energy from its own resources to manufacture needed substances, thus robbing other body functions of needed nutrients.
In the October 1986 Ensign, President Ezra Taft Benson wrote, “In general, the more food we eat in its natural state—without additives—and the less it is refined, the healthier it will be for us” (p. 2).
How to Grow Sprouts
Although there are many ways to sprout seeds, a simple and economical method gives consistent results. Use wide-mouth quart canning jars with a circle of plastic mesh cut to size and held in place with a canning ring. Plastic mesh, sometimes called plastic canvas, can usually be purchased in a craft store. If you prefer, plastic screen or cheesecloth can also be used but is more difficult to clean. The open mesh allows the sprouts to be rinsed easily and to get air circulation.
Put into a quart jar one cup of large seeds or wheat, or three tablespoons of smaller seeds such as alfalfa, and fill the jar with water. Soak the larger seeds or wheat for 12 hours, the smaller seeds for 6 hours. Drain the water and rinse the seeds by running water through the mesh lid. Store upside down at a 45-degree angle in a place where excess water can drain off. After the initial soaking, don’t allow sprouts to stand in water. Continue to rinse and drain twice a day, or three times a day in warm weather. After maturing for two to three days, sprouts should be about as long as the seed itself. At that point sprouts can be stored in the refrigerator for several days without loss of quality.
Uses of Sprouts
Sprouts can be sprinkled on salads or eaten plain. A few handfuls a day will give any diet a nutritional boost. They should be carried in loosely fastened plastic baggies because sprouts need air or their quality suffers. Certain sprouts, such as buckwheat or unhulled sunflower seeds, can be spread over soil in a tray to grow into young, tender plants for salads. The juice of wheat grass, grown in a similar manner, contains a balance of all vitamins and minerals, including cobalt, which we need to produce vitamin B12.
Although it may take weeks to grow food in gardens, seeds sprouted in jars need only a few days to be ready to eat. In cold climates, sprouting can be done indoors, providing fresh, nourishing food all winter. The small amount of time or effort needed to sprout is well rewarded when we are able to eat nutritious food for only pennies per serving.—MacClaren Giblette, Moroni, Utah