At The Mini Smalholder we want to encourage as many of you to try and grow your own vegetables and move towards becoming self-sufficient. Using seeds has to be the start for many a garden journey, however sprouting seeds can also be the complete package! For some of the links to products here I will receive a small payment, which does not affect your overall price, but I still use these products and recommend from companies I trust.
Why Sprouting Seeds?
Simply put sprouting seeds are the best windowsill food to grow. They do not require daylight, are not expensive and better still they require no soil!
You will need –
two sheets of kitchen paper
one packet of seeds specifically for sprouting I use
reuse a plastic carton which would otherwise be recycled.
It is important to buy seeds specifically designed for sprouting. It is tempting to try and use any seeds you have and soak them for a few hours before following my step by step guide below. Do not be tempted though as these regular seeds have been produced to standards which would expect to be grown and not eaten. Seeds to be eaten and eaten fresh rather than cooked will be to a higher standard. They are more likely to keep you clear of the nasty things we will look at below.
Easy Steps for Sprouting Success
- personally I like to soak my seeds overnight first – 8-10 hours is a rough guide, they won’t mind if they have had a little longer or a little less. Trust me this is why I think they are perfect for any level of homegrown enthusiast!
- take two sheets of paper towel. I use kitchen roll here and once used you can put to your compost bin I promise. If you are a strict Organic fan, please do use your own brand. If not you will not be any worse off if you go for the shops cheapest own brand product.
- line your plastic tray with the paper towel so that it hangs over the side and you can then rinse and add your seeds.
- then moisten the paper towel – do not soak it! but instead run the tap over the paper towel which hangs over. I find this helps to get the dampness just right.
- next place the plastic tray in a sunny warm spot. A windowsill above a radiator is the best spot and it doesn’t have to be in the kitchen either. As long as it is somewhere you wont forget to water as it will need checking twice a day
- depending on the seed this should take around 5-10 days. The image below is at around day 2, so you can see how quickly this can come to fruition.
For those of us who prefer a video tutorial and to prove that even younger family will get involved have a look here.
How to store your seeds
First of all the packets you get will be sufficient to feed you and your family for some time. Depending on the weight you buy at a time the cost per portion is significantly lowered. This means you will be able to store the dry seeds for years in your cupboards. Once they are sprouted – dry them thoroughly and wrap in a towel. I put mine in an airtight container in the fridge. I can then pick at them for the next week happily. The best advice would be to only sprout enough for your immediate needs. That said it is hard to plan five to ten days in advance! So try the method I have outlined above please!
What are the health benefits of sprouted seeds?
For an interesting article around the health benefits of wholegrains and why sprouting is very good for us have a look here
There is no doubt as to the amazing health benefits of seeds and once you awaken that germ all of the stored nutrition and energy starts to be released.
What are the best seeds to sprout?
After talking with Kirsten, a registered dietitian from f00dventures.wordpress.com
I have been able to learn more about the true nutritional value of sprouting seeds. So please have a visit to her site to find out more as well as looking at our healthy recipes pages.
By sprouting Fenugreek to then add to homemade curries in the last few moments of cooking is like a second heaven, trust me on this one. There are lots of benefits for the taste and sprouting enhances the digestibility and bioavailability of various nutrients in fenugreek including fiber, protein, and iron. This can be very important for those of us who find it harder to digest whole grains in their original form. Our family really love the taste of the sprouted seeds of Fenugreek and think it softens the harshness.
Chickpeas can be another super food which is actually hard to digest even when boiled to within an inch of its life. Sprouting can release more benefits than you might realise as you will be able to digest the fibre and protein more easily. Lots of people are wary of sprouted seeds so will then boil the sprouts, this can mean the nutrients are leached out. So why not include them in the last few moments of cooking and that way you will be eating the entire sprout and any healthy juices, or why not steam?
Red Cabbage seeds rock once sprouted as they are a vibrant addition to any dish. They also offer a greatly enhanced vitamin e and vitamin c content which can help with decreasing inflammation and enhancing immune system function. So fantastic for winter salads or for soup toppings. The red cabbage seeds once sprouted are ideal for a quick handful of something in between meals as well, mainly because they taste so scrummy.
They offer a much more gentle taste and are a great addition to any salad. Health benefits include an increased vitamin K and C content.
Is it dangerous to eat sprouted seeds raw?
There have been cases of salmonella and E.coli in the UK and since 1996 there have been 30 cases come through the NHS. For more information have a look at https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/eat-well/sprouted-seeds-safety-advice/
The main safety advice from myself would be yes there can be dangers with sprouted seeds. However when you grow at home, you are in charge of the environment. You are not using a large factory process and neither are you leaving your sprouts in a large storage facility wrapped in single use plastic. The large scale environments for sprouting seeds are breeding grounds for bacteria. Warm and damp is just sheer perfection for nasty horrible E.coli and Salmonella. But when we are growing at home..
We start by only buying seeds specifically for sprouting. Then we wash our hands before adding water. Ensure you clean all of the trays thoroughly between uses. Rinse your seeds under running water once we have soaked them. You can also look to see if any growth has occurred which we wouldn’t want. Some roots look a little ambiguous so eat before roots take hold! Then we can use our noses to detect an odour. Fenugreek smells like the best curry you will ever try! We can use our eyes and fingers to feel for a slimy film coating and immediately discard those seeds. We can also store them in a nice dry environment or only make enough to eat for one meal at a time. Finally if you are still worried, only use them in cooking. Don’t boil the last inch of
goodness out of them. Leave them in a simmering masala for a few minutes
before serving. Or you might like to steam them?
Sprouting Seeds in a jar – some people like this method. I have not really got on with it in the past. I am looking to try again but I always find the seeds sit in the water for too long.
This method really is an old-school method and I remember sprouting cress heads made from old tights.
What is the difference between sprouted seeds and microgreens?
Basically a lot of difference in terms of how we grow them and how we eat them!
Microgreens are the baby version of any plant, those amazing first two leaves that they put out to get as much sunlight as possible.
To grow microgreens you need finely sieved soil and a nice warm dark place for them to shoot up from the surface of the soil to then be transferred to a sunny window. Believe me when I say these are not hard to master either, but they do need a lot more attention. BY keeping them in the dark you are forcing them to grow taller to find the sunshine. When they are yellow and have two leaves take them straight to the sunniest spot you have. You need to keep the soil damp but not sodden and allow them to not have too many changes in temperature.
You will be eating the top inch or so of the plant and not the seed itself. We have two gorgeous nephews of 8 and 3. They love to get muddy and join in with growing food that they would not eat from the supermarket. The microgreens would be ideal for the 8 year old, but the sprouting seeds are ideal for the 3 year old. Unless it is for eating, then they will both eat most of everything we grow!
How to Sprout like a Boss!
For those wanting to dip a tentative toe into the world of sprouting seeds a good place to start could be
Fenugreek Organic Sprouting Seeds or
Alfalfa Organic Sprouting Seeds and I love a handful of
SPROUTING SEEDS - CHICK PEA For those of you who want to become king and queen sprouters why not invest in a
Seed Sprouter Jar or to really impress you can get a pimped up version like
Seed Sprouter Kit - 3 Sprouting Mason Jars with Stainless Steel Strainer Lids . That one may be going on my Christmas list for this year! For those of you tempted by microgreens you could try a nice beginners set like this one
Grow Your Own SUPERFOOD – Classic Kitchen Garden MICROGREENS KIT | Sprouting Seeds Gardening Set | Easy-to-Grow | High Success Rate, Harvest in 2 Weeks | Perfect Gift | 5 Seed Varieties
How to Shop Like a Boss!
Or you could try this one
This one makes a very aesthetically pleasing gift and I think it is a nice way to help a friend become more healthy and care more for ruling out single use plastics.
This one I love for the name alone, but it is a good beginners kit as it contains a range and you can find your families favourites before spending a small fortune
This is the pack I have used in the video
Organic Sprouting Mix, 1 Kg and I find it works well with the younger eaters in my family as there is plenty of colour! If you wanted to keep them separated to see which ones you loved try this for a first time package,
Microgreens go well in wraps, sandwiches, salads and any toppings for soups. Do not use them in cooking as they wilt and lose texture and taste. I also love to add them to a heathy dirty burger and my https://theminismallholder.com/recipes/healthy-homemade-coleslaw-recipe/ is an ideal starting place! Or even my unctuous feta and avocado guacamole would be happier for some microgreen love!
I really am very grateful for all of the help I received from
registered dietitian Kirsten at F00dventures please check out her other fabulous healthy ideas and recipes!