I unearthed the electric sprouter I purchased a few years ago at That Natural Store in Kane, Pa. I prefer to sprout alfalfa, red clover and a broccoli-radish mix seeds. I seem to crave sprouts in the Spring when lettuce from the store doesn’t taste so fresh. There is something miraculous about seeing a little tiny seed break through it's hard shell after a long winter. The alfalfa and red clover seeds are tiny sprouts that I snack on right out of the trays. I like the crunch of the little seeds. The radish-broccoli mix is a little bitier. They are delicious mixed in with a salad. Sprouts can also be layered in a sandwich in place of lettuce. My first taste of this was a few years back at a little deli we discovered while at a Mary Chapin Carpenter concert at Lake Chatauqua . For lunch I ordered a veggie sandwich that was made with a hearty grain bread, cream cheese, shredded carrots and sprouts. Today I tossed some of the sprouts into a black bean salad with a lime, red wine vinegar and olive oil dressing.
I first tried my hand at sprouting in the 1970’s when I was in my early twenties. It was a cool hippie thing to do and I liked the fresh sprouts in my salads. I used mung beans that I bought from Genesse Natural Foods Co-op. They were the only seeds available at the time. My sprouter was a quart glass mason jar, cheese cloth and a rubber band. I soaked the seeds overnight and drained them in the morning. Then I shook the jar while it was sideways so they were dispersed in the jar. I covered it with a towel and rinsed them a few times a day, which I sometimes forgot to do.
Once the seeds sprouted I would put the jar in the sunlight so the sprouts would turn green. The result was I had fresh bean sprouts, albeit a little soggy. Sprouting was a little messy, but got better when the plastic rings with screens came out and I didn’t have to fuss with the cheese cloth. You could also purchase rings with fine screen mesh to sprout the alfalfa and red clover seeds, although a lot of the seeds stuck to the screen or didn’t sprout.
In the 1980’s I bought a layered sprouter from Cooks’s Garden. Along with the new sprouter a variety of seeds, such as radish and clover were available by the ounce. It was about 10 inches in diameter and had three trays that were stacked on top of one another. Water was supposed to drain down and humidify the bottom layers. I didn’t have much success with it.
Well, the electric sprouter is the cat’s meow. It has five removable white ridged trays with small drainage holes that fit into the rectangular greenhouse type container. In the back of the container is a water reservoir that holds almost a gallon of water. I have it on the counter next to my kitchen sink so I can attach a hose to the faucet and fill it without spilling water all over the place. The same kind of motor that was used on the the old type humidifiers is stationed above the reservoir and is set up on a timer to turn on three times a day. When it turns on, a fine mist sprays the seeds for a few minutes and then turns off. The excess water drains into the kitchen sink via a clear plastic drain tube at the bottom of the sprouter. Within a few days I have beautiful fresh sprouts that are well drained without having to remember to rinse the seeds every few hours. Now I can buy a whole array of seeds by the pound via the internet. This sprouter was a good investment!
Sprouts have been used for thousands of years and are known for their high nutritional value. They are antioxidants, high in vitamins A and C along with a bunch of other nutrients and minerals. A sprout possesses all of the energy, vitamins and nutrients and power that enables it to be transformed from a small seed into a strong plant. At this stage its nutritional value is at its highest for instance, sprouted seeds can contain 400% more protein than lettuce and over 3900% more beta-carotine. Studies have also shown that broccoli and other types of sprout contain exceptionally high levels of a natural cancer fighting compound called sulforaphane (20 – 50 times more than in mature broccoli) which helps support antioxidants such as vitamin C and vitamin E. http://www.energiseforlife.com/sprouting_benefits.php
Also, due to their size and taste you are able to eat hundreds of sprouted seeds at a time. In so many sprouts, you are eating the equivalent of hundreds of fully grown plants all at once – when else would you be able to get the goodness of one hundred mature plants in one meal?!