Growing alfalfa sprouts has got to be the easiest ‘gardening’ activity there is.
You can do it inside, they grow in a couple of days, and you don’t even need any dirt!
Growing alfalfa sprouts is a great gardening activity for kids because it’s quick and easy.
You grow the sprouts in a glass jar so the kids can easily see the progress from seed, to tiny sprout, to green leafy sprout ready to eat.
The kids can help with every part of the process and after only a few days they can eat what they’ve grown!
- How to Grow Alfalfa Sprouts
- Kid-friendly Alfalfa Ideas
- Have you ever grown alfalfa sprouts?What’s your favourite way to eat them?
- How to Plant Alfalfa Seed
- Growing Alfalfa Sprouts
- How to Eat Alfalfa Sprouts the Right Way
- Adorably Amazing Alfalfa Sprouts
- Alfalfa Sprouts: A New Darling of the Health World
- Alfalfa Sprouts Precautions
- How to Eat Alfalfa Sprouts
- Homegrown Alfalfa Sprouts
- Cooking Alfalfa Sprouts
- Choose a store to continue
How to Grow Alfalfa Sprouts
To grow alfalfa sprouts you’ll need:
- A glass jar
- A special straining lid, or some nylon netting and a rubber band
- Alfalfa seeds – make sure they are specifically for sprouting.
- A plate or bowl to sit the jar in to drain
Put a tablespoon of alfalfa sprouting seeds into your jar and fill it with enough water to totally cover the seeds.
Put the lid on and let the seeds soak for around 6 hours (or over night)
Once the seeds have soaked, drain the water out of the jar, rinse the seeds with fresh cold water, drain again and let the jar sit upside down on an angle to allow the water to drain. If you have a sprouting lid put the jar on a plate to catch the drips, if you are using netting sit the jar in a bowl to keep it resting on an angle and to catch the drips.
Place the jar of sprouts in a cool spot, out of direct sunlight. Your kitchen bench is usually perfect.
Rinse and drain your sprouts every morning and night until they are about 2-3cms long and starting to green up.
It should take around 3-5 days and then they are ready to eat!
You can store the sprouts in the fridge for a couple of days, but make sure they are not slimy or moldy before you eat them.
So now that you and the kids have grown some alfalfa sprouts, how are you going to get the kids to eat them?
Kid-friendly Alfalfa Ideas
Alfalfa is super good for you, and it’s quite mild in flavour, so it mixes well with all kinds of other things, and that is the trick to getting the kids to give it a go.
Here are a few alfalfa sprout ideas that your kids might like:
- Add sprouts to tacos as part of the salad toppings.
- Include sprouts in sushi – either traditional sushi or bread sushi.
- Add sprouts to coleslaw or other salads your kids like. (We love this greek yoghurt coleslaw recipe)
- Make rice paper rolls (summer rolls) with alfalfa. (we put chicken in ours instead of shrimp)
- You can even add sprouts to smoothies, once they are whizzed up they pretty much disappear.
- Sprouts are also great in all kinds of sandwiches and wraps.
My kids eat sprouts, but only when they grow their own!
Their favourite way to eat them is in a simple mountain bread wrap. A great combination is tuna, alfalfa, carrot and mayo – spread the mountain bread with mayonnaise, then layer with alfalfa sprouts, thinly sliced carrot and tuna. Roll it all up and cut it into ‘sushi’ rounds.
Have you ever grown alfalfa sprouts?
What’s your favourite way to eat them?
Feel free to share….
How to Plant Alfalfa Seed
- Place 1 or 2 tablespoons of alfalfa seeds on a plate. Remove any seeds that aren’t whole or that are cracked. Place the good seeds into a wide-mouthed jar.
- Fill the jar with water to about 2 inches (5 centimeters) above the seeds.
- Cover the jar with a piece of woven fabric, such as a stocking. Secure the cover with a rubber band.
- Let the seeds soak overnight.
- Turn the jar upside down and drain the water through the cloth. The seeds must remain in the jar. Rinse and drain the water twice.
- Place the jar in a warm spot. This will help them grow. Alfalfa seeds can be grown in either light or dark places. Those grown in the light will be greener and have a stronger taste. If you prefer white sprout, grow them in a dark place.
- Rinse the seeds two or three times each day with cool water during the growing period. This will prevent the seeds from going sour. During this time the seeds should begin sprouting.
- Harvest the sprouts when they are the size that you want. Give them a taste test as they grow; if they are left to grow too long, the taste will deteriorate.
- Store your sprouts in the refrigerator .
Growing Alfalfa Sprouts
The shelf life of sprouting seeds (how long the seeds remains viable – able to germinate) varies quite a bit. Though most seeds will remain viable for years in reasonable storage (dark, cool and low humidity), some will not. We suggest that you freeze your seed. Freezing extends the shelf life of a seed by several years. The only concern in freezing is condensation. All you need to do to avoid condensation is to return the seed to the freezer within a few minutes – after you’ve removed what you need, to grow your current crop. Also, Keep them in any sealed container. A plastic bag is fine. Glass is better. You do not need to thaw the seeds – just go ahead and Soak.
When conditions are warmer your sprouts will likely grow faster. Likewise they may grow slower if conditions are very cool. As always 70° is optimal.
All sprouts generate heat while growing, which is a good thing, but it can get out of hand on occasion. When the weather is especially hot and humid you will do well to Rinse more frequently (every 8 hours if possible) using colder water than usual, to compensate.
We grow our sprouts almost exclusively in Easy Sprout Sprouters. By day 4 we have hulls coming off our sprouts, so we allow the hulls to escape. We do this by leaving the Growing Vessel inside the Solid Base of the Easy Sprout and then filling it with water. We use a fork to loosen the mass of sprouts, which allows more hulls to float to the surface. We skim the hulls off and compost them. It isn’t necessary to do this because we De-Hull them when we harvest the crop, but it’s a way to spend more time with your sprouts. We like to do that. It’s possible that we’re a bit odd that way – – but you see – sprouts are sorta part of our family – – hmmmm – I don’t imagine that makes us seem less odd. Let’s just leave it there. We are who we are @:-)
Depending on your Sprouting Device, not all of your sprouts will have access to light and so some will not green. This is not only OK – it is good. The yellow sprouts will be equally nutritious (they have everything but chlorophyll) and many think them more delicious (in Europe vegetables are often grown “blanched” by being denied light). We think they are prettier when there is a mix of green and yellow leaves to go with the white roots. So don’t sweat it – just eat more sprouts!
When using a non-tray sprouter, you can help your crop by “breaking apart” your sprouts when they clump up – around day 3 or 4 and daily thereafter. We use high water pressure when Rinsing to keep our sprouts loose, but this only works for so long – so – when water isn’t enough, loosen the clump of sprouts up using a fork or your fingers (wash your hands first please, if they need it). If you are using a Sprouter that can hold water, like Easy Sprout – fill it mostly full then use a fork to loosen the clump. You could also dump your sprouts onto or into something and just shake them apart. This clump loosening is by no means mandatory – but it will help more of their leaves to turn green. You should never be afraid*** of touching your sprouts. They are much stronger then they appear – just be reasonably gentle.
*** The only thing to fear is fear itself.
Alternate Growing Methods
This method produces very pretty sprouts that green most evenly and whose hulls are removed most easily. They do not however, taste any better =:-}
If you grow in a Tray sprouter – like SproutMaster, your sprouts can grow vertically – leaves (cotyledons) up, roots down. The trick to doing this is to keep your sprouts in place (don’t “break them up” as you do in a non-tray sprouter) from day 3 onward. It is easy to do if, when Rinsing, you use a sprayer (that attachment most sinks have – the one that pulls out and is gun-like or a faucet attachment that offers spraying when pulled down) instead of your faucet. We have grown many tons of leafy sprouts this way. Here is a breakdown of the specifics (rinse numbers are based on 12 hour intervals – adjust as needed):
Rinse 1 (right after Soak): Use faucet or sprayer and Rinse thoroughly (use water at high pressure and use plenty of it). Rinse 2 and 3: Use faucet or sprayer and Rinse thoroughly. Rinse 4: Use sprayer and while Rinsing thoroughly, spray your sprouts evenly across the bottom of the tray. You can use your hands to spread them too. The goal is to spread them evenly. Rinse 5 and 6: Use sprayer with less water pressure. Rinse well – (which since you are using less water pressure means – for a longer time) but don’t disturb the sprouts. Rinse 7 – 10: Use sprayer. You can turn the water pressure back to high – your sprouts will not be easily moved (broken up) at this point and the higher water pressure feeds oxygen to your sprouts as well as “cleaning” them, which is a wonderful way to produce healthy long lasting sprouts. Rinse and Drain thoroughly. Rinse 11 (if you need this many) or your last Rinse: Use Sprayer. Hold your tray at an angle (90° will work but less is OK too) and spray across the top of the sprouts to remove hulls. We call this SHAVING. It can be done at any Rinse or every Rinse – starting when hulls begin to be shed by the opening leaves. Rinse down into the sprouts too.
Vertical growing CAN be done without a sprayer too but it is more difficult. If you want to try all you have to do is regulate your water pressure – trying to keep your sprouts undisturbed during rinses 4 – 6.
Growing Leafy Sprouts as Micro-Greens
We have posted instructions to do this Here: Leafy Sprout Micro-Greens.
We get cravings for greens this time of year. Sure, you lucky gardeners with indoor growing systems or hot houses may be eating home-grown kale or lettuce or spinach here in the dead of winter. But what’s a renter without his own garden patch to do? Grow sprouts.
Sprouts are one of nature’s most nutritious foods, full of vitamins, minerals, and amino acids as well as a great source of roughage. Lentil sprouts are 26% protein; soy bean sprouts, as you can guess, even higher. Radish sprouts contain large amounts of vitamins C and A as well as being a good source of calcium. Sunflower sprouts have lots of vitamin D. Clover sprouts are a good source of cancer-fighting isoflavones and alfalfa sprouts contain phytoestrogens needed for hormonal balance. If you’ve been scared away from sprouts because of contamination incidents with store -bought products, there’s a simple solution. Grow them yourself.
These top quality sprouting seeds include old favorites and extra-healthy choices.
It’s easy to enjoy the health benefits of sprouts — whether it’s greens and grasses, beans, nuts or grains — in your own home with our seed sprouting kits and supplies. No more high grocery store prices! Need help? Visit our Sprouts & Micro-Greens Blog for tips and articles on sprouting seeds — indoors or out!
Growing sprouts indoors is among the easiest things you can do. Don’t make it too hard. When we were young back in the early 19(garbled)s, we read a health store handout that said planting sprouts in soil significantly increased their nutritional content. This claim may have been only partially true, hinging on the meaning of the word “significantly.” But the planting, watering, and cleaning after harvest — not to mention replacing the soil — turned this easy task into a chore and for what? We decided that rather than go to all the muddy trouble of washing dirt from the spouts to gain 5% more mineral content we’d just eat more sprouts.
Of course, you’ll want to use the freshest seed you can find. And you’ll want to make sure it’s organic… you’ll be eating your sprouts seeds and all. If the seed isn’t designated “for sprouting” steer clear. Your germination rate — you want it as high as possible — and assurances that the seed hasn’t been treated will otherwise be suspect.
The glass jar technique is the easiest. You can buy screen lids that allow you to easily rinse your sprouts or use cheesecloth to cover the jars. Seeds must be soaked first; the larger the seed, the longer the soak. Alfalfa seeds can soak for as little as three hours. Soy beans should be soaked overnight. Make sure you give your sprouts plenty of room to grow. Two or three tablespoons of seed in the bottom of a jar will be sufficient. Once the seeds have soaked, drain and rinse. You’ll see the first sign of growth, depending on the seed, in a day or so. Rinse them every six hours and drain well.
Once they’ve all sprouted, put them in a sunny window to encourage the formation of chlorophyll, another healthy component for us humans. Don’t let them go too long. Sprouts are at their healthiest in the first day or so of growth. Once they’re well-sprouted, rinse and drain well and then put them in the refrigerator for storage. Most sprouts will keep two or three days. But they seldom last that long; we tend to eat them up right away. Put them on salads, sandwiches, and in stir fries (larger sprouts take especially well to cooking). Stagger your batches every two or three days to ensure an uninterrupted supply. And get your kids involved. We find they love watching seeds they’ve soaked sprout and develop. It might even make a good science project.
How to Eat Alfalfa Sprouts the Right Way
We’ve all heard about different blend of superfoods. There’s wheatgrass, then there’s chlorella, kale, spinach, quinoa, chia seeds…
But have you heard of alfalfa sprouts?
Adorably Amazing Alfalfa Sprouts
These cute shoots are actually germinated alfalfa seeds. Despite their tiny size, these sprouts contain a ton of vitamins, minerals, and other essential nutrients that can greatly benefit the body.
So how nutritious are alfalfa sprouts exactly? Let’s check out then, shall we?
It is an essential component of hemoglobin in red blood cells. Hemoglobin is the substance responsible for carrying oxygen to cells throughout the body. Moreover, it can help maintain a healthy metabolism, improve brain and muscle function, regulate body temperature, and treat anemia, insomnia, and fatigue.
This nutrient is a big help in building and repairing tissues, and the production of body chemicals, enzymes, and hormones. It can also aid in managing blood glucose levels and weight, protecting the heart, and amazingly slowing down aging.
Fiber not only helps maintain a healthy digestive system, but also significantly lowers the risk of diabetes, hypertension, obesity, strokes, heart diseases, and some gastrointestinal diseases.
It’s a very important vitamin for maintaining a healthy metabolism and brain function as well as for healthy blood clotting. It also promotes heart health, helps fight cancer, and aids in building healthy bones, gums, and teeth.
And on top of all these nutritious goodness, alfalfa sprouts is a good source of calcium, vitamins A and C, and some B vitamins. It also has a low glycemic index (LGI), which makes it ideal for people with diabetes.
Alfalfa Sprouts: A New Darling of the Health World
They are quite common in Oriental dishes. However, it is only recently that alfalfa sprouts are gaining popularity in the United States.
And more and more people are beginning to trust these tiny sprouts. Why exactly? It’s because studies show that they are very effective in fighting two of the most common health problems in the country—diabetes and cancer. No wonder people are turning to alfalfa sprouts as garnishes to practically any and every dish—salads, soups, sandwiches, stir-fries, and burgers. You name it, they’ll put alfalfa sprouts in it.
A lot of people are even growing their own little alfalfa gardens. It’s easy and simple, and doesn’t require much maintenance. And what’s best about growing your own alfalfa sprouts? You can be sure they are fresh, natural, organic, and healthy.
Alfalfa Sprouts Precautions
Of course, as with many other produce, there are a few precautions you should take note of when it comes to alfalfa sprouts.
In fact, according to FoodSafety.gov, young children, pregnant women, nursing women, the elderly, and people with weak immune systems should avoid consuming raw sprouts.
Why? Because alfalfa sprouts have this tendency of being easily contaminated. They may contain some types of deadly bacteria, such as E. coli. There are also some reports of people getting infected with salmonella and listeria after eating alfalfa.
Mike Doyle, the director of the Center for Food Safety at the University of Georgia, even said that he considers “sprouts to be among the most risky foods sold at retail.” This is probably because the sprouts are often grown in unsanitary environments that are practically ideal for bacteria.
How to Eat Alfalfa Sprouts
Now I know it sounds scary. However, there are ways to ensure that you are handling and consuming sprouts the right way. As long as you prepare alfalfa sprouts correctly, you will significantly reduce the likelihood of you getting foodborne illnesses.
If you prefer to eat your store-bought alfalfa sprouts raw, then the first step is for you to wash your hands with warm water and soap before you actually touch the sprouts. This ensures that you won’t be introducing any other kind of bacteria to the sprouts yourself.
When you’re certain your hands are thoroughly clean, remove the alfalfa sprouts from the container and place them in a clean colander. Run the colander under cool running water for about 1 minute. Toss the sprouts while doing so. This rinses off the surface dirt. According to Food Safety, washing your hands before and after handling alfalfa sprouts and rinsing the sprouts completely is important. This will ensure that no bacteria will be passed on to the other foods that will be mixed with the sprouts.
Before actually mixing these sprouts in your salad or layering them in your sandwich or your wrap, make sure to properly drain them before eating them. Lay them out on a clean paper towel to ensure even drying.
And to make sure that you are getting fresh alfalfa sprouts, check if they look crispy and that they have buds. Avoid soggy or dark-colored sprouts to avoid possible food-related illnesses. Lastly, make sure to dispose of your leftover alfalfa sprouts within four days after purchase.
Another option to safely add alfalfa sprouts to your diet is to get them from a health supplement capsule or green juice such as Life Essentials.
Homegrown Alfalfa Sprouts
If you’re tending to homegrown alfalfa sprouts, here’s what you should do. First, mix 1 gallon of water with 3 tablespoons of bleach. Then soak your sprouting equipment in this solution for around 5 minutes. While these are soaking, go ahead and thoroughly clean your own hands before handling the alfalfa sprouts or the disinfected equipment.
Afterward, in a small saucepan, pour in food-grade 3 percent hydrogen peroxide and bring up the temperature to 140℉. You can monitor the temperature using a cooking thermometer.
Put the alfalfa seeds in a metal strainer, and then submerge the seeds in the peroxide. Do this until the temperature returns back to 140℉.
Take out the strainer from the pan and rinse the seeds under cool running water for about 1 minute. Don’t forget to wash your hands again before handling the disinfected seeds.
Go ahead and sprout the seeds as you normally would. Don’t forget to skim off any hulls or floating empty seeds from the water’s surface in the sprouter. Once the seeds have sprouted and are ready for eating, follow the steps of washing alfalfa sprouts above.
I understand the cleaning process can be long and a bit of a hassle. But they are the only way to ensure that your alfalfa sprouts are safe to eat. And as they say, better safe than sorry, right?
Cooking Alfalfa Sprouts
Other experts believe that cooking the alfalfa sprouts ensures that the bacteria, if any, will be eliminated. But that means the sprouts have to be thoroughly cooked. According to the British FSA, a “thorough cooking” means “until they are steaming hot.”
However, some recipes suggest adding the sprouts to the dish at the last minute. You can then cook them for no more than 30 seconds. Unfortunately, this quick cooking method will not bring the alfalfa sprouts to the temperature required to kill bacteria.
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I’m not always one for throwback foods, but there is something to be said for those ’80s- style sandwiches packed with avocado and alfalfa sprouts. The week before Labor Day, our family used to make our annual 5-hour trek to the Trinity Alps, mountains in California’s far-north and least-populated county, to wallow in swimming holes and toast marshmallows in campfires. One day out of the week, we’d head for civilization—a town called Weaverville—to pick up provisions and stop for lunch.
Weaverville had its charms—a pottery studio, a shop filled with western boots, jeans, and fridge leather jackets, an ice cream parlor—but in no way would it be mistaken for a culinary destination. Still, maybe it was due to all that hiking and swimming or maybe it was because eating in restaurants was a rare treat for me, but I still count the sandwich I ate in a no-name diner in Weaverville as one of the best I’ve ever had.
It was a club sandwich, California-style. Piled in between two halves of a toasted croissant were avocado slices, alfalfa sprouts, and thick slices of tomato layered over mayonnaise. And bacon and turkey. In my memory, the meats were more like seasoning agents. Still, I couldn’t stop eating it.
Years later, I realized what I appreciated so much was the perfect combination of ripe tomato against the creamy, salty mayonnaise, which alone makes a great sandwich. The sprouts weren’t the main event, but they were also certainly integral to the overall impression.
Call it nostalgia for Labor Days past, but I’ve been thinking about recreating that Weaverville sandwich. Yet I rarely buy sprouts because they don’t last long in the refrigerator. And then I found a workaround. Mid-August, I was visiting my sister in Seattle when I saw sprouts growing on her counter. She showed me the set-up:
Take a quart-sized mason jar, add a spoonful or two of alfalfa seeds, and soak them.
The next day, affix a perforated lid to the top of the jar and drain it, leaving the jar upside down to allow for drainage.
Rinse the seeds twice a day for a couple of days, they’d turn into something resembling the sprouts from sandwiches of yore.
I had to try it myself.
Since I had the Mason jar at home, what I needed were the lids and the seeds. We drove to the PCC, a local grocery in the style of Whole Foods, and bought the lids, which come in a pack of three and vary depending on how large the perforated holes. I don’t have allegiance to any particular brand, but the grocery store set up Sprout-Ease Econo-Sprouter Toppers next to its array of seed packets, so that’s what we bought. They were also inexpensive, easy to pack, and would fit on the quart-sized Mason jars I had at home.
The lids themselves are easy to use. From the time the seeds are soaked to the time the seeds start to sprout but are still fairly small, you need to use the lid with the smallest holes. When they’ve sprouted and are about an inch long, you graduate to the lid with the medium holes, which allows you to rinse away the husks from the sprouts.
As far as quantity of seeds, Maureen used two heaping tablespoons of alfalfa seeds, which she acknowledged had been a bit much for the Mason jar to handle. I took note, pledging to use a more modest amount. At home, I found 1 1/2 tablespoons, give or take, worked well enough to fill up one quart-sized jar.
Alfalfa sprouts take 4 to 5 days to fully sprout. I left mine on the counter for a fifth day and they turned a nice green color. (The science of chlorophyll and sunlight on full display.)
They were good, too, if not anything different than what you’d expect an alfalfa sprout to taste like. What’s fascinating, though, was thinking about other things I could sprout. The third lid in the series had the largest holes, which was too large for alfalfa but could be perfect for sprouting garbanzo or other kinds of larger beans. In Myanmar, sprouting beans before cooking them is a common way to make them more digestible and tender. I always thought the effort would be more trouble than it was worth… but now with my jar, a set of lids, and a new appreciation for sprouting science, I’m ready to go all in.
Below, the sprouting action:
We’ve all heard about different kinds of superfoods. There’s wheatgrass, then there’s chlorella, kale, spinach, quinoa, chia seeds…
But have you heard about alfalfa sprouts?
These come from germinated alfalfa seeds. Despite their tiny size, these sprouts contain a ton of vitamins, minerals, and nutrients that can provide plenty of benefits for your body. These sprouts are quite common in Oriental dishes, but just recently, alfalfa sprouts are gaining popularity in the United States.
Many people are beginning to trust these tiny sprouts. In fact, studies show that they are very effective in fighting against two of the most common health problems in the country, which are diabetes and cancer.
No wonder people are turning to alfalfa sprouts as added garnishes to practically anything—salads, soups, sandwiches, stir-fries, burgers, you name it.
A lot of people are even growing their own little alfalfa gardens. It’s easy and simple, and doesn’t require much maintenance. And what’s best about growing your own alfalfa sprouts is they’re guaranteed fresh, natural, organic, and healthy.
Related: is garcinia cambogia a hoax
Of course, as with a lot of other produce, there are a few precautions that you should take note of with regard to alfalfa sprouts.
For example, young children, pregnant women, nursing women, the elderly, and people with weak immune systems should avoid consuming raw sprouts.
This is because sprouts have a likelihood of getting foodborne illnesses. They might contain some forms of deadly bacteria, like E. coli. There are also some reports of people suffering from infections with salmonella and listeria after taking in alfalfa.
Mike Doyle, the director of the Center for Food Safety at the University of Georgia, even said that he considers “sprouts to be among the most risky foods sold at retail.” This is because these sprouts are grown in an environment that’s practically ideal for bacteria.
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Now I know that all that sounds scary, right? Well, they are, and those sadly happen. However, there are ways to ensure that you are consuming and handling sprouts the right way. As long as you prepare alfalfa sprouts correctly, you will immediately reduce the likelihood of you getting foodborne illnesses.
If you prefer to take in your store-bought alfalfa sprouts raw, then the first step is for you to wash your hands with warm water and soap before actually touching the sprouts. This ensures that your own hands won’t be introducing any kind of bacteria to the sprouts.
If you’re certain your hands are completely clean, remove the alfalfa sprouts from their container and place them in a clean colander. Run the colander under cool running water for about 1 minute. Toss the sprouts so all are evenly rinsed. This rinses off the surface dirt.
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According to Food Safety, washing your hands before and after handling alfalfa sprouts and rinsing the sprouts completely will make sure that no bacteria will be passed on to other foods that will be mixed with the sprouts.
And before actually layering these raw sprouts in your sandwich or your wrap, make sure to properly drain them before eating them. Lay them out on a clean paper towel to ensure even drying.
To make sure that you are getting fresh alfalfa sprouts, check if they look crispy and if they have buds. Avoid soggy or dark-colored sprouts to avoid possible food-related illnesses. Make sure to dispose of your leftover alfalfa sprouts within four days after purchase.
Related: research for sulforaphane
If you’re tending to homegrown alfalfa sprouts, first, mix 3 tablespoons of bleach with 1 gallon of water. Then soak your sprouting equipment in this solution for around 5 minutes. As they are soaking, go ahead and thoroughly clean your own hands before handling the alfalfa sprouts or the disinfected equipment.
Related: side effects of Probiotics
Afterward, in a small saucepan, pour in food-grade 3 percent hydrogen peroxide and bring up the temperature to 140℉. You can monitor the temperature using a cooking thermometer.
Put the alfalfa seeds in a metal strainer, and then submerge the seeds in the peroxide. Do this until the temperature returns back to 140℉.
Take out the strainer from the pan and rinse the seeds under cool water for around 1 minute. Don’t forget to wash your hands again before handling the disinfected seeds.
Go ahead and sprout the seeds as you normally would. Don’t forget to skim off any hulls or floating empty seeds from the water’s surface in the sprouter. Once you’re done with sprouting, follow the steps of washing alfalfa sprouts above.
I understand the cleaning process can be long and tedious and a bit complicated, but this is the only way to ensure that you will not be getting any diseases from the alfalfa sprouts.
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Other experts believe that cooking the alfalfa sprouts ensures that the bacteria, if any, will be eliminated. But that means the sprouts have to be thoroughly cooked. According to the British FSA, thorough cooking means “until they are steaming hot.”
However, some recipes suggest adding the sprouts to the dish at the last minute. You can then cook them for no more than 30 seconds. Unfortunately, this quick cooking method will not bring the alfalfa sprouts to the temperature required to kill bacteria, which is 165℉.
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The last thing you wanted to read about this week was another e. coli outbreak. Luckily, this one happened two summers ago (2011), but we’re writing about it now because e. coli outbreaks are a real danger. In the 2011 German outbreak, definitively linked to unclean sprouts, 3,000 people got sick (some of them got sick enough to be put in quarantine) and 29 died.
The likelihood of e. coli coming from your homegrown sprouts is fairly low. If you are diligent at thoroughly washing the sprouting dish after each use, and washing your hands each time you handle the sprouts, you are well ahead of the game. But, because sprouts are a fresh, raw product, you should know that infection is possible, even if it is unlikely.
The first, and probably best, tip is this: if your sprouts look slimy, or smell weird – don’t eat them! (That means you, Dad. No rinsing it off and pretending it’s ok.) There is one exception; broccoli sprouts produce sulfaraphane which is thought to have anti-cancer properties. Sulfaraphane smells like—you guessed it—sulfur and that’s normal for broccoli sprouts.
Follow these seven easy steps and get delicious, fresh, clean sprouts – every time!
- Wash your hands every time you handle the seeds or sprouts – do it right, don’t give it the quick rinse. A bit of hand sanitizer after a good wash is not a bad idea either.
- After soaking your seeds, skim off anything floating on the surface. Research has shown that these “floaters” may be more likely to grow bacteria.
- Rinse your seeds/sprouts. No matter what sprouting method you use, rinse your seeds/sprouts frequently with clean water. At least twice a day is recommend, 3 to 4 times a day is better. Keeping the seeds/sprouts moist allows them to germinate, and rinsing them frequently helps keep bacteria from growing.
- Completely drain your seeds/sprouts after each rinse. Rinsing is key to safety. Standing water can lead to mold and bacteria so get rid of the excess.
- As sprouts develop use a clean fork to break up the sprouts before rinsing, as you rinse allow any seed hulls or other “floaters” to rinse out.
- After your sprouts have fully developed do a final rinse in a clean bowl. Use a clean fork, or your clean hands, to remove any final floaters or other non-sprout material.
- Remove excess water. Dry sprouts with a clean paper towel or use a fine mesh salad spinner.
- Wash your sprouting dish after each use and before you start sprouting.
You can store sprouts in a clean bag or other sealed container in the refrigerator, but… sprouts are more delicious and nutritious when they’re fresh. Don’t wait for more than a couple of days to enjoy the fruits of your sprouting labor!
Here’s something you probably didn’t know. Sometimes you may need to clean the seeds themselves. If you’re purchasing commercial sprouting seeds, and most of us are, those seeds have already been cleaned. Here are instructions on how to clean sprout seeds, in case you’re interested.
For more information about sprouting, and tasty recipes, get a copy of The Sprouting Book. It’s an easy, informative read on how to grow and use sprouts. The book also discusses many of the health benefits from incorporating sprouts into your diet. Sprouts be a nutrition-packed boost to your daily diet and sprouting seeds are an invaluable addition to your food storage.
If you’re ready to start sprouting, Emergency Essentials offers several varieties of sprouting seeds and sprouting dishes. These seeds are clean and packaged for long-term storage. If we’ve said it once, we’ve said it a thousand times, and we mean it. You can enjoy sprouts now or in years to come!
Sprout on, my friends. Sprout on.
When I have a batch of mature sprouts, I fill the kitchen sink with cool water and plunge as many as I can into it. The seed hulls tend to float to the top, although a gentle churning of the clumps of sprouts is necessary to free up many more seed hulls. I pull out all the clean sprouts, while pushing the seed hulls to the corner of the basin. The clean sprouts then go into a pasta drainer which is set up in the sink’s other basin, so the water can drain out down the free drain. Most of the water will drain out pretty quickly. Then I stack the pasta drainer in a big stainless steel bowl to allow the water to continue to drip, which it will do for a few hours.
More water than you think will drip out in those few hours. Better to let it drip out than let the sprouts sit in this water when stored in the refrigerator.
After a few hours’ dripping, I transfer the sprouts to a large refrigerator storage dish. They will keep several days in the refrigerator this way, clean and dry. The refrigerator slows the growth.
I still always smell and feel the sprouts when I’m about to use them in a salad. If they concern me the least little bit, out they go to the compost, or I will give them a quick rinse for freshening.
The sprouts shown are a mix of red clover, alfalfa and fenugreek.