All of my readers who are following my work already know that I’m keen supporter of anything new, unusual and extraordinary. So far, all of my articles were about growing specific plants in garden or container, and this is the first one which will not feature a soil base. Extraordinary enough for me, I decided to give broccoli sprouts a go.
This article is about how to grow broccoli sprouts and their impact on your health. In case that you have never tried one of those, this is a fantastic opportunity to start.
What Are Broccoli Sprouts In The First Place?
As the name suggests, shoots from broccoli plants are small, not fully matured plants which can be consumed as food. Either as a sandwich topping, eaten with a pinch of salt or mixed in a salad, there are a lot of ways in which you can consume these tiny crunchy salads. Also, here are some of the facts about broccoli sprouts which you (probably) didn’t know.
What Are Benefits Of This Food?
As I stated, broccoli sprouts are rich in sulforaphane, which helps to keep bacteria which are known to be initiators of gastrointestinal cancer at bay. Because of this, more and more people are consuming them as a measure of prevention.
Moreover, since their unusual antioxidant features, broccoli sprouts are also connected with the reduced appearance of autism.
Although the actual reasons for autism to appear are still unknown, it might be that these antioxidant activities are behind proper brain development, which leads to the absence of this condition.
The reduction of wrinkles, age spots and other features which are connected with aging and skin are linked with high intake levels of broccoli sprouts. Again, as a potent antioxidant, it helps with revitalizing skin layers and keeping it elastic. Also, its high amount of fibers will help regulate digestive tract and will assist in preventing cancer, ulcers and similar diseases which are linked to bad digestion.
What Will Be Required?
Luckily, when it comes to growing broccoli sprouts, there only a few things which are needed to acquire. Most of them you already have in your home, so there is no need to go on a shopping spree for tools and equipment. In fact, this is another reason behind enormous success and extensive usage of these sprouts. They are easy and cheap to grow, and this approach is less expensive than buying them from the store.
Of course, when growing sprouts, seeds will be required. The matter of cultivar or variety is not of crucial importance, so you can use whichever you find. However, what matters is whether the seeds are treated or not. Those which are pure, without any chemical or fertilizer additives are the best, and those are the ones which I strongly suggest.
Besides seeds, you will need a glass jar which can be found in every house, straining cloth and a spoon. Some people are advising to use whichever jar you have, whether that be plastic or glass one, but I would say that plastic is unwanted in this situation. Simply put, glass is less likely to influence seeds in a wrong way, and is more hygienic. As for straining cloth, if you don’t have one, you can use an ordinary strainer for kitchen usage.
When Can I Grow Them?
Since the whole procedure is rather short and requires only five or six days approximately, you can grow them anytime you like. It doesn’t matter if it is December or July, all you need is the sunlight. Of course, since December and January are known to have darker and shorter days, with less sunlight, see that the period of growth of your sprouts is during brighter days.
So far you have guessed that the jar will be filled with water and seeds, and this is true. Because of the instability of weather which is crucial for proper germination, I suggest you leave the jar inside, without putting it on the terrace, even if it is summer.
So, How To Start?
As for the beginning, I had to wash and sterilize the jar thoroughly. By washing it by hand with the hottest water I could endure, the majority of possible dust and pathogens are removed. Just to be sure, I have filled the kettle with water, brought it to boil, and boiled the jar for about 10 minutes. The glass will withstand the temperature, so you don’t need to worry.
The preparation of seeds is similar, only without boiling it (of course). I have put about three tsp of seeds into the colander and washed it with cold water and stirred it with hand. This way any dirt or pest eggs will be removed. Of course, I have cleaned it one more time by using large plastic container and stirred it a couple of times.
Take the washed seeds and put them into washed and disinfected jar. Add water to fill half of the jar, cover it with straining cloth, put a rubber band and leave the jar somewhere dark and warm. A kitchen cabinet is an excellent place because it is close at hand while remaining in the temperature range for good germination. The jar with seeds will be here about 8 hours, which is approximately overnight.
The primary purpose of this part of the procedure is to soak the seeds with water. Usually, broccoli seeds will float, and this is what you need to look after. After spending those 8 hours in the cabinet, remove the straining cloth from the top and grab a spoon. All of those seeds which are floating should be removed. Those haven’t absorbed enough water, and will not sprout. Why bother with those?
What Is The Next Step?
After removing floating seeds, pour the seeds and water through the strainer, and rinse the seeds with water. This procedure will remove any remaining traces of dirt and bacteria.
When you are done with washing, return seeds to the jar, cover it with new straining cloth, and return it to its previous location. I have continued this procedure of rinsing, adding just a bit of water and washing for the next four days, once in every 6 or 8 hours. It is vital to continue doing so, because if the seeds are left unattended, the mold will develop, and your effort will be ruined.
When first roots are developed, I have mistaken them for mold, because of their fuzzy looks, so if you see white strains coming from the seeds, it means that your sprouts are progressing great and that everything is in order.
What To Do After Four Days?
In about four days, sprouts should develop two small leaves, but you will probably notice their yellowish tint. This happens because of lack of chlorophyll, and to correct this, there is the second step.
Again, there are some washing and rinsing to do, only this time, the jar won’t be located in the cabinet. To kickstart development of this element as well as other nutrients, place the jar in indirect sunlight. It is vital that the light is not too intense since it will burn tender sprouts. Moreover, even if the sun is not too intense, the glass jar will act as a magnifying glass, increasing temperature and intensity.
This is the period when sprouts are still susceptible to mold, and you should be extra careful and not let it develop. Not just ruining your plans of healthy eating, mold can cause serious health problems.
The period of growing stronger sprouts lasts about two days. It is, however, impossible to know precisely how much will be needed, so keep an eye out for the color of the leaves. Once they turn dark green, the sprouts are ready for eating, and there are only a few steps more to be done.
What To Do At The End?
Now, with nicely grown sprouts, there are only several things which need to be done, to prepare them for storing and consuming.
First of all, be careful when pulling the sprouts out of the jar. They should remain whole, without breaking or crushing, but it’s not the end of the world if some stems are broken. Next, fill larger container with water. Any bowl or similar will do the trick. I have used large, glass-made fruit bowl since it has good depth and wide upper part, which makes things much more comfortable.
Put the sprouts into the bowl and fill it with water. My preference is to stir them a bit more aggressively because empty hulls need to be separated and removed. Now, by hand, spoon or whatever is convenient for you, remove hulls which will float on the surface of the water. These parts of the plant contain a lot of water and will cause spoiling of the whole harvest.
I can’t remember when was the last time I did so much of washing and rinsing, but I did it one more time eventually. After the final wash, I left them in drainer for about an hour to drain from any water and transferred to spread kitchen cloth after that. Here, they spent a few hours to drain thoroughly, so that their time of usage is expanded to a couple of weeks.
As for storing, it is the best advice to use an airtight jar. Of course, I strongly suggest you use glass one, because of nasty smell which can come from plastic. Put the sprouts in the jar, seal the lid and put it in the refrigerator.
How To Eat Them?
As I said at the beginning, there are numerous ways in which broccoli sprouts can be consumed. You can try what suits you the best, and go with that. For example, try separating some of them, and add a pinch of salt for a quick afternoon snack. Or, if you prefer, mash them together with more of the “green stuff” for a fantastic detox smoothie. The choices are enormous, and it is up to you to either use them or to invent something new.
As you can see, learning how to grow broccoli sprouts is not such a terrible task to do. It requires more of goodwill than actual effort. Anyone can do it, and eventually, its significant influence on the overall health condition makes me wonder why haven’t I done this before?
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