[DIY] Soy sprouts and other seeds

My father recently showed me how to make soybeans sprout at home and it’s very easy! Most of us experienced sprouting on paper at school… it’s the same principle, with water, air and a bit of warmth, your beans will be deliciously edible in a few days!
First of all, a short precision about what we usually call soy sprouts: it is actually made from mung beans which come from India and has a green color – also known as green soy. The real soybeans that are used for making tofu and soy milk are bigger and yellow.

soybeans

Mung beans (green soybeans) and soybeans. Left picture: (c) Sanjay Acharya, GFDL.

That being said, you can make both beans and even a lot more sprout at home with this simple process: soak them in water for a night, after that you will wash them and let them dry repeatedly – between 1 and 3 times a day. Some seeds take more time, need more or less light or maybe some special conditions, but the procedure is mainly similar so have fun while trying out!

 

What is the difference between a bean and a seed? Well, a bean is just a type of seed. And what is a seed? It is a starting package which contains a lot of condensed resources that our body can not easily assimilate. When it sprouts, these resources are processed and this makes its sprout much easier to digest. Sprouts are also very interesting on the nutritional level because they contain much more vitamins, minerals, antioxidants… and the magical transformation from seed to sprout only needs, as we have said, water, air and warmth! Now let’s have a closer look.

The awakening

The seed was sleeping waiting for good conditions to appear, like a warm spring or a rainy day. To simulate these conditions, as we have said, you only need to wash it and let it soak in water for a night. It doesn’t have to be during the night, it could also be during the day, but at least for 10 hours and 24 hours is also very fine – no need to be accurate.

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Mung beans after one night of soaking.

About water and air

Both are needed and your seeds need humidity but – except during the first night – not to be soaked! The idea here is that when you wash your sprouts, you will drain them very well or use a recipient with small holes or dispose them on a tissue. You can use for example the recipients of a steamer (plastic ones or natural bamboo ones). Many people use a jar and cover it with a compress – avoid a muslin or other tissue with tiny holes – that is fixed with an elastic: this is practical because you don’t need to remove the elastic every day, you just pour some water in the recipient and turn it back to drain the water, then you leave it bottom down with a small inclination so the remaining water can evacuate.

About warmth

It works well with your room temperature (you do heat during the winter, don’t you?) and you will get better results if you rinse the seeds with lukewarm water instead of cold.

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The sprouts are already showing up after one day.

About light

Did I forget to mention sunlight? Actually not! A seed in earth also doesn’t get any sunlight. For that reason, people often say that it’s better to keep your seeds in complete darkness until they start to germ, and it seems logical: you want to reproduce the natural condition. And light can damage the roots. After they germ, you can expose them to artificial light if you want but no sunlight. To understand that, you have to imagine that the plant adapt its amount of chlorophyll to the sunlight exposition just like the photograph plays with the ISO setting of his camera: if there’s a lot of sun, only a few chlorophyll is needed (and the ISO setting will be lower) but when the sun is scarce the plant doesn’t want to loose any of it and will produce more chlorophyll (like the photograph will use a higher ISO sensitivity).

 

You can eat the sprouts as soon as you see them growing, but it’s better to wait a bit. If you wait too much, they will rot so when you see green leaves appearing, you know that you have only a few days left and you should start eating or at least transfer them to the fridge to cool down the growing process. When the green leaves appear, the seed has already given everything from its resources and it can’t live from fresh water anymore, it would need earth or additive nutrients to keep growing.

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Ready to it! Or wait a couple of days to have them longer and thicker.

Recipient alternatives

For seeds that grow well in complete darkness like the mung bean, a tetra pack container that is opened on top and pierced with a knife at the bottom and on the sides will be perfect. You put your seeds and water from the top and let the water drain from your holes. You can fix the top with clothespins so that it stays completely opaque. Between two washing, leave the pack in a bowl or on a plate to collect the remaining drained water. Even better than the tetra pack : an empty coffee bag which is many times reusable and easier to fold.

coffee bag

My favorite method: reusing a coffee bag. Don’t forget to pierce its bottom enough so the water can drain.

The simplest method of all is to use a dishcloth. Put your seeds in the middle, wash with water and gather the corners to form a ball, press gently to extract the water. Dispose the dishcloth on a clean surface and that’s it. If you are hiking – or just moving – you can also keep it closed and fix this ball to your bag. This is very useful if you need to leave your flat for a few days but just started a new batch of sprouts the day before. With this method, you can easily move your seeds to anywhere, which makes it the universal method, but when you are home it is not so practical.

Some particularities

So the mung beans grow well in complete darkness until they reach a very decent size. If you want them to get some fancy color, light exposition is what you need. The sprouts will turn to light pink with light, otherwise, they will stay white as those that they sell in your Asian store. While other seeds normally need to be well aerated, mung beans apparently grow longer if they are compressed, because they fight for some space and try to push ahead.

Other seeds that are very easy to make sprout are alfalfa (also known as lucerne) and fenugreek, plus they are extremely healthy.

As all the seeds and beans that we have mentioned until now, chick peas also sprouts in a few days. I suggest to cook them for a few minutes to make them softer – not too warm to preserve as many nutrients as possible – let them cool down with the lid on and make a delicious houmous! The taste of the chick peas that are not very well cooked might be disturbing, so feel free to cook them for 2 hours if you prefer, but know that you will lose many nutritive elements!

I had some troubles with millet because they develop a sticky envelope around them while soaking – and for this reason, I don’t recommend to use a muslin with tiny holes. Even the jar and compress don’t work with them because the viscosity will systematically block the holes and the water will not escape from the jar. Besides that, they are very small so it’s difficult to sieve them. What worked the best for me with millet was the dishcloth method… universal, as I said!

Parsley has a very nice taste but it’s much longer to sprout, it takes around 10 days. I haven’t tried with other seeds until know, but please let me know about your experiences! One good tip for you: do not mix different types of seeds when you don’t know them, for example, mung beans and parsley don’t go well together: the mung beans will be ready in a few days while the parsley seeds will be barely opened, but it will be already too late to sort them out. (Adrien, dieKulturvermittlung, 04.05.2016)

Picture credit: (cc) dieKulturvermittlung



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