Harvested before they become a full-grown plant, Alfalfa Sprouts are the shoots of the Alfalfa plant and contain concentrated nutrition, texture, and flavor. They are one of the most significant dietary sources of beneficial phytoestrogens readily available and these plant molecules reduce heart attack, cancer, and osteoporosis risk. On the down side, Alfalfa Sprouts are commonly linked to foodborne illness outbreaks such as Salmonella and E. coli; care must be taken to rinse them thoroughly. However, you can inexpensively keep a fresh source in your kitchen because Alfalfa Sprouts are easy to grow, and you don’t need a green thumb to get them started!
First, let’s explore the key nutrient richness of fresh sprouts:
Vitamin C: Strong immunity
Calcium: Healthy bones
Potassium: Normal heart beat and healthy muscles
Magnesium: Cofactor in more than 300 enzyme systems
Iron: Oxygen-carrying red blood cells
Folate: Brain health
Vitamin A: Immune function and reproduction
With a mild flavor and crunch, Alfalfa Sprouts require minimal attention. A fresh flavor for salads, sandwiches, or as a garnish for soups or stir fry, here are some easy steps to get you started growing your own. This yields approximately four cups of sprouts:
•Seed Preparation: Measure out two tablespoons of certified organic seeds. Rinse thoroughly to remove dust and debris.
•Soak the Seeds: Add three times the amount of cool water and mix seeds up to assure water contact for all. If you are concerned about the development of bacteria, add one or two drops of bleach in the initial soak water. Allow seeds to soak for 12 hours.
•Rinse and Drain Thoroughly. Use cool water (60-70 degrees F.) to rinse several times.
•Start Growing Sprouts. Set up the sprouter or jar with sprouting lids anywhere out of direct sunlight in a temperature around 70 degrees F. We set ours in indirect sunlight on the cabinet where we can be reminded of them. They don’t really need light for the first three days before photosynthesis starts.
•Continue to Rinse and Drain. Every 12 hours, rinse and drain them. Shake them around; they like circulation! Be sure to drain them thoroughly because the most common cause of a poor sprout crop is inadequate drainage. I use paper towels to accomplish this.
•Look for them to green up on the fourth day. At this point, make sure they have adequate indirect sunlight. Direct sunlight will cook them!
•Finish your sprouts. Around day six, you will notice that most of the sprouts have green, open leaves. Depending on your tastebuds, you may want to remove the hulls; it is optional.
•Remove the hulls. To remove the hulls, put the sprout mass in a large bowl of water and pull the mass apart. The hulls will typically rise to the surface and you can skim them off.
•Enjoy your sprouts! I like to use a salad spinner at this point to drain them again. We store them in a quart jar in the refrigerator and typically eat them quickly while they are deliciously fresh and crunchy