From Seeds to Superfood Sprouts

These are my broccoli sprouts on day five of the process. I started eating them at this point.

Spring seems like a good time to speak about sprouts! There are plenty of health benefits that come from eating sprouts, and I’m going to mention a few. The two kinds of sprouts I will discuss are alfalfa and broccoli. I enjoy the taste and crunchiness of both. They are nice on salads, sandwiches, burgers, and the like.

These are broccoli sprouts after they’ve soaked overnight.

I’ve been growing alfalfa sprouts for a few years now. Mostly, I do a batch when I think about it, know I’m not going on a trip, and decide to spend the extra time every morning rinsing them. They only take about four days, mind you, but sometimes adding one more thing to an already hectic schedule just seems too daunting. Thus, I’ve had a 2.5 pound bag of alfalfa seeds for probably 4 or 5 years. 

These are alfalfa sprouts after soaking.

I decided to branch out recently and buy some broccoli sprouts to try out. I’ve heard some people raving about the health benefits of this “superfood” and figured it would be good to add to my family’s diet. 

What I have discovered is that alfalfa sprouts are easier than broccoli sprouts. Neither one is what you call a “difficult” plant to grow. But, the broccoli sprouts take longer, grow mold easier, and I didn’t get as much yield as with alfalfa sprouts. 

This is my glass sprouting jar.

However, I am going to try again using a sprouting jar instead of the sprouting trays that I used my first go-around. After doing a bit of research, it seems this is the preferred method for broccoli sprouts. Although, I like using the trays for alfalfa.

If I wasn’t on deadline, I could tell you how my second try of broccoli sprouts went. But, since I am, I’ll just assume it went beautifully. You get better with experience (and experimentation), right?

My “tower” of sprouting trays remained too humid for the broccoli sprouts.

Back to alfalfa sprouts: After soaking 2 tablespoons of the seeds overnight, I divide and spread them out on my four sprouting trays. I stack the trays, making sure they are stacked for proper ventilation (made that mistake before). I put them in a location away from sunlight. Every morning, I rinse the seeds and restack the trays. On about the fourth day (depending on their size), I rinse one more time and set the trays in the sunlight, so the sprouts can “green up.” Once I think they look green enough, I put the sprouts in a glass container and refrigerate. All done! 

The health benefits are numerous including potentially aiding digestion, immunity, cholesterol, and intake of fiber and antioxidants. They contain minerals, such as phosphorus, potassium, calcium, iron, magnesium, copper, and manganese. They are high in vitamin K; vitamin C; vitamin A; and numerous B vitamins, such as folate, thiamin, riboflavin and pantothenic acid. 

This is the second day for the broccoli sprouts. The seeds are starting to sprout.

Not to be outdone, broccoli sprouts are touted as even better for you. It’s the antioxidants and sulforaphane that these sprouts contain that get most nutritionists excited. I’ll let you do your own research on this, but to sum it up – people believe these goodies may help in the fight against cancer. In addition, a three-ounce serving of broccoli sprouts contains 60 percent of the recommended daily intake of vitamin C, 10 percent of the recommended daily intake of vitamin A, 6 percent of the recommended intake of calcium, and 4 percent of the recommended intake of iron. 

Here are my bags of sprouts!

According to the package, here is how to grow the broccoli sprouts: Add 2 tablespoons of seeds and 6 tablespoons of water; soak overnight. Drain seeds and store in low humidity, away from direct sunlight for 3-4 days. On day 4, place in sunlight. Rinse and drain daily until sprouts are ready, about 3-5 days.

These are finished alfalfa sprouts.

The disclaimer about any kind of sprouts is that the damp, humid environment needed to grow them is also the perfect environment for growing bacteria. People have been known to get salmonella or E. coli from contaminated sprouts. 

I’d like to think most contamination happens in store-bought sprouts. I’ve never had an issue with my sprouts, but it is always advisable to make sure you keep containers clean. You also need to be diligent about not letting the seeds stay too wet or too dry. In case you are a visual learner, I found this video helpful for showing how to use a sprouting jar for broccoli sprouts.

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