“There is nothing better than a friend unless it's a friend with chocolate” ~ Lynda Grayson
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or, in my case, mung beans
An invitation for a glass of wine with a friend is never to be ignored (especially on a beautiful summer afternoon). As I left for home, I carried with me a rather odd-looking parting gift. A glass jar covered with green mesh, filled with water and mung beans.
“Take them home and put them in a warm spot. After eight hours or so, drain the water and give them a good rinse. From then on, a couple of times a day rinse them again to keep them moist. Pretty soon you'll have sprouts!”
“Are you sure? Even if they sprout, what the heck am I going to do with them?
She smiled knowingly, “You'll figure something out. I'm not worried. Oh, and don't forget to look them up, they're terribly good for you.”
It's the Chinese who get credit for discovering the value of sprouted seeds. Centuries ago they stored mung beans on their ships, and sprouted them throughout their ocean voyages, as a preventative for scurvy.
That isn't to say the value of a sprouted grain was lost on Western cultures. Take, for instance, beer. For hundreds of years, it's been made with germinated grains. Or how about bulgur, used extensively in Middle Eastern recipes. It's made from coarsely ground sprouted wheat.
What is it about this sprouting process exactly, that takes a non-germinated seed and makes it into special?
It turns out the sprouting of seeds is a fascinating natural phenomenon if there ever was one. Essentially when the seed becomes unrecognizable. Transforming itself into something new, and it's from this minuscule appendage that a plant is born.
If that alone weren't enough, this little sprout contains incredible nutritional value. It hosts a whole range of vitamins and enzymes that are entirely absent or present only in very small amounts in an unsprouted seed. Not only is vitamin C produced (as the Chinese discovered), but there are many other benefits as well. To name a few: sprouting increases vitamin B content, especially B2, B5, and B6. Complex sugars responsible for gas are broken down, and carotene increases dramatically (sometimes six-fold!).
The process also neutralizes phytic acid. A substance found in the bran of all other grains that inhibits the absorption of calcium, magnesium, orion, copper, and zinc. Also, many enzymes that aid digestion is produced as the seed germinates.
According to enzyme specialist Dr. Edward Howell, MD (Food Enzymes for Health & Longevity) before the advent of factory farms, we ate most of our grain in partially germinated form. Grain standing in sheaves and stacks in open fields often began to sprout before it was brought into storage. Modern farming techniques prevent grains from germinating before they reach our tables.
The method for sprouting couldn't be easier, with no special equipment needed, other than a mason jar and a round of screen-like material to replace the solid insert. The only variations will depend on the size and nature of the seeds.
Fill the jar 1/4 of the way with any grain or seed. Add water to cover them, screw on the top with its screen insert, and allow them to soak overnight. Rinse them well (without removing the top) and let them sit. From this point on, rinse the seeds a couple of times a day, allowing the jar to sit at an angle to drain and allow air to circulate.
(ps: A great reference for Soaking and Sprouting grains, nuts, and seeds)
In 3 or 4 days they'll be ready
Note, almost any grain or seed can be sprouted, as long as they haven't been irradiated.