How to Soak & Sprout Nuts, Seeds, Grains, & Beans
Nuts, seeds, grains, and beans are nutritional powerhouses. However, the natural agents that protect them from early germination can wreak havoc in our digestive system. Soaking and sprouting replicates germination, which activates and multiplies nutrients (particularly Vitamins A, B, and C), neutralizes enzyme inhibitors, and promotes the growth of vital digestive enzymes.
Soaking and sprouting is very easy. The method is exactly the same for nuts, seeds, grains, and beans—only the time required for full germination changes. (See the table below.)
Please note: Many “raw” nuts and seeds have been pasteurized and irradiated. Truly raw almonds and peanuts will sprout, but those that have been pasteurized and irradiated will “activate” with soaking, but will not physically “sprout.” However, soaking still removes anti-nutrients (compounds that can interfere with the absorption of nutrients), increases nutrient density, and makes the nuts more digestible.
HOW TO SOAK NUTS, SEEDS, GRAINS, AND BEANS
PLACE in a large glass bowl or mason jar, and cover with warm, filtered water (about a 2:1 ratio) and about ½ tsp. Celtic sea salt. Cover with a light cloth for desired time.
RINSE food thoroughly and drain.
USE these activated “non sprouts” immediately to make plant-based “milks.” (Read my recent post on How to Make Plant-Based “Milks.”) You can also cook soaked and rinsed grains immediately, using them just as would un-sprouted grains in any of your favorite recipes or as a bed for vegetable dishes. Do note that most soaked grains only need a 1:1 water/broth ratio to be cooked through because they are already plumped with water.
DEHYDRATE in a food dehydrator at no higher than 115º F for 12 to 24 hours, and store in sealed glass containers in the fridge. Beware: If nuts are not completely dry, they will develop mold.
HOW TO SPROUT NUTS, SEEDS, GRAINS, AND BEANS
GET a quart-sized (or larger) mason jar. Remove the solid middle insert of the lid, and cut a piece of cheesecloth or breathable mesh to fit inside.
FILL one-third of the jar with nuts, seeds, grains, or beans, and fill the rest of the jar with warm, filtered water and about ½ tsp Celtic sea salt. Screw the lid on with cheesecloth or breathable mesh screen in place.
SOAK For soaking times, see table below.
DRAIN/RINSE Remove the mesh insert of the lid, and replace with metal insert. Pour the soaking water out of the jar, fill with fresh water, replace lid, and rinse well by shaking jar. Replace the metal insert with the mesh lid again, and drain.
INVERT the jar and lay at an angle so that air can circulate, and the water can drain off. Allow to sit in the light.
REPEAT this process, rinsing every few hours, or at least twice daily.
WAIT In 1 to 4 days, the sprouts will be ready. Sprouts vary from 1/8-inch to 2-inches long. When ready, rinse sprouts well, drain, and store in a jar (with the solid part of the lid replaced) in the fridge.
ENJOY within 2 to 3 days. Sprouts are a fabulous nutrient-rich addition to raw salads, sandwiches, and wraps, and are also tasty in smoothies, soups, and stews.
|FOOD||SOAKING TIME (hours)||SPROUTING TIME (days)|
|Almonds||8-12||No Sprouting (if pasteurized) 3 Days (if truly raw)|
|Brazil Nuts||3||No Sprouting|
|Sunflower Seeds||8||12-24 hours|
PLEASE NOTE: Sprouts can be subject to contamination which can result in bacterial growth such as E. coli, leading to food-borne illnesses. Always purchase organic fresh products from a reputable source, wash your hands thoroughly before handling foods, and keep sprouting equipment and all kitchen surfaces clean to avoid cross contamination. Always consume sprouts within a few days, fresh and straight out of the fridge. Some health organizations also recommend consuming them cooked to reduce the risk of infection. I certainly consume raw homemade sprouts, and have never had an issue. Decide what is a responsible choice for you and your family.
THE BENEFITS OF GERMINATED SEEDS
Sprouts are an excellent source of vitamins and minerals. Sprouts exhibit a very good bio-availability: the body will be able to easily absorb the vitamins and minerals contained in sprouts. Sprouts are alive, they are loaded with enzymes. The enzymes in sprouts will help digest the cooked foods that do not have enzymes. So it’s a good idea to invite germinated seeds to your meal, as you will digest better. During the germination process there is a formidable increases up to 1000 times the vitamins contained in the dry seeds.They therefore have an invigorating antioxidant and remineralizing power on the body. To keep all the benefits of sprouts they should be eaten raw and avoid cooking after germination. Add them at the last moment in warm dishes. Just eat two tablespoons per day per person to enjoy the benefits of sprouts. If you have a deficiency of vitamins and minerals you can eat 100g of sprouts per day as a cure.
WHAT KIND OF SEEDS YOU SHOULD FOCUS ON TO MAKE SPROUTS GROWING
If you were to start with a single germinated seed specie, start with alfalfa. It is remineralizing and toning. Its taste is quite light, not very pronounced and it integrates well with other foods. Alfalfa sprouts are even great for decoration. From simple to more difficult to germinate: The easiest legumes: clover, lentil, alfalfa seeds, chickpeas, adzuki beans, fenugreek, mung bean. Traditional vegetables: radish, broccoli, carrot, garlic, fennel, red cabbage, chinese cabbage, onion, leeks, basil, parsley. Cereals: wheat (1% gluten only in sprouted wheat), oat, rye, amaranth, kamut, millet, buckwheat, quinoa, rice, barley, spelt. The oil seeds: sunflower, sesame, almonds. The most difficult, the mucilaginous: flax, mustard, watercress.
YOU CANNOT USE ANY SEEDS FOR SPROUTING
There are sprouts that is important not to eat: seeds of tomato, eggplant and rhubarb. All seeds from plants which leaves are toxic are not consumables sprouts. Yellow soybeans spouts also should not be consumed.
WHERE TO FIND THE SEEDS TO GERMINATE? HOW TO CHOOSE THEM?
You will find a wide selection of seeds for sprouting in health food shops. Seeds to germinate will be found in organic food stores, and I highly recommend this and not use any non-organic seed. For our healthy we don’t want any pesticid! Then avoid classic gardening seeds which are full of chemical products! Seeds to germinate can be stored one year in a cool and dry place. After that delay you may see the germination rate decrease and to have some seeds wont germinate anymore. Seed quality is important for the germination percentage, not to see half of the seeds that won’t germinate. You can also find fresh seeds ready for use, if you don’t want to grow them by yourself. However it is much more profitable to grow them by yourself. It doesn’t require specialized material and you don’t need to have green thumbs to get with good results. It works alone so just remember to rinse them twice a day.
HOW TO PRODUCE YOUR OWN SPROUTS?
It’s very simple, no need to invest in heavy equipment. You probably have empty jars at home? Gauze or thin fabric? Some elastic at the bottom of a drawer? Well now you have the full panoply of the perfect small producer of sprouts. Consider investing in small items or big hardware when you are used to do this regularly.
STEPS TO PRODUCE YOUR OWN SPROUTS
Soak the seeds overnight in a low mineral water. At first put 2 tablespoons of seeds only, you will see the seeds will take more and more space while germinating, so do not fill the jar. The next morning rinse and drain. Put gauze in the jar with gauze and tie the pot. The idea is to let the air flow, but not insects. Place the jar on the edge of the sink for example, it should be tilted so that water does not stagnate in it. The seeds may rot if water stagnates. Put the jars to indirect light in a warm place. To rinse you only have to put water through gauze, gently shake and drain the water. You must rinse the seeds twice a day, morning and night (more if it is hot). Depending on their variety, you will consume your seeds between 3 and 10 days. When the first small leaves are visible you can eat your sprouts. For vegetables, you can go as soon as a small root gets out. For almonds and hazelnuts you do not have to wait until the seed drills (it’s very long). But pre-germination will make them more digestible and you will be able to make vegetable milks. Remember to rinse seeds that have “skins” such as soy. To remove a maximum of skins pour sprouts into the tray of your sink, fill with fresh water and you should see the remains of seeds at the bottom of the tray and you can remove them. In organic food shops you can find handy jars with a plastic cover adapted to tilt the jars. Others with a metal screen integration are very convenient. People find that staged hotbed are not very satisfying. As the roots get stuck in the hotbed it is difficult to irrigate all the seeds… unless you use dismountable trays –see teh references below–. The jar remains the most convenient option in my opinion. You can also find auto hotbeds that calculate the ideal humidity. It is good for intensive production but the budget is substantial. By cons you are well equipped since there is a 5 liter tank with automatic misting, you just have to put you toes into fans. You will come to grow very mucilaginous seeds with this method. But once again check your regular consumption before investing in a larger equipment.
HOW TO STORE SPROUTS?
If you do not have time to eat it all when your sprouts are ready, it doesn’t matter. Either they are not too green and you can let them go even one day. If they are already perfect then rinse, drain and place them in a tupperware that you put in the vegetable drawer of your refrigerator. The cold will stop the germination process and you can consume within three days, but it’s better to eat the freshest sprouts possible.
HOW DO WE TASTE THE SPROUTS?
Rinse them for the last time and they are ready! They are simply decorative as accompaniment to a meal. Sprouts are delicious in salads as they add their notes and spicy fragrance. Add them as your sandwiches, omelets …
Many people find they cannot tolerate grains, seeds, nuts and legumes, or products such as breads, cakes or bean dishes made from them. Do you suffer from indigestion, flatulence, heaviness and other maladies after eating them?
Grains/seeds and legumes/beans contain enzyme inhibitors, which keep them dormant until they are soaked and start to sprout. They also contain phytic acid (an organic acid in which phosphorous is bound) in the outer layer or bran, and a variety of toxins to protect them from being eaten by mammals, including humans. These enzyme inhibitors, phytic acid and other toxins make dry grains, seeds and legumes indigestible. Phytic acid also reacts with many essential minerals, such as calcium, magnesium, copper, iron and especially zinc, and stops their absorption in your intestines.
Early humans did not evolve with grains or legumes as part of their diet. It is only in the last 10,000 years since the advent of agriculture, that humans have started to eat them. I emphasise in Grow Youthful that grains and legumes are a new food and that the human body has not fully adapted to digesting them. No other primates eat them.
Soaking neutralises the enzyme inhibitors present in dry grains, seeds and legumes, and starts the production of numerous beneficial enzymes. As they soak, the enzymes, lactobacilli and other helpful organisms break down and neutralise the phytic acid. As little as seven hours soaking in water removes most of the phytic acid. Soaking, fermenting and sprouting also breaks down gluten and other difficult-to-digest proteins into simpler components that are more easily absorbed. However, not all toxins are removed, with wheat and some legumes (see below) being the worst affected.
A diet with grains or legumes that have not been sprouted or soaked can lead to serious mineral deficiencies, bone loss, and digestive problems such as reflux, bloating, food allergies, irritable bowel and other forms of weak digestion.
Breads and other products made from flour that has not been risen or soaked for at least seven hours have a similar effect. Most commercial breads, pastries, biscuits etc are made from un-soaked flour.
Commercially baked bread made from milled dry grains and fast acting yeast is prepared and baked in less than a few hours. No lactobacilli are involved, only one strain of yeast is used, and the conditions are not suitable for neutralising enzyme inhibitors and phytic acid. These breads are hard to digest.
Sprouts. The toxins in many legumes do not appear in their sprouts. Sprouts are a living, enzyme-rich food, natural and low in calories. Their vitamin A content will usually double, various B group vitamins will be 5 – 10 times higher, and vitamin C will increase by a similar order. Their protein content becomes easily digestible, and rich new nutrients such as enzymes and phytochemicals are created. They contain significant amounts of bio-available calcium, iron and zinc.
When a dormant seed sprouts, its starch is converted into simple sugars, and long chain proteins are split into smaller, easily-digestible molecules. Sprouted beans and seeds are like a pre-digested food.
Try keeping two containers of sprouts in your fridge, especially in the summer. Sprouts are the base for all sorts of delectable pates and raw food recipes, and provide a colourful and living addition to any dish – particularly salads.
Use a variety of different sprouts such as alfalfa, garbanzo beans (chickpeas), lentils, mung beans, peas and sunflowers. Keep changing which beans you use, so that your body is not exposed to using the same sprout for days or weeks at a time.
Keep a written note on which you find digest the best, or which have any side-effects. Try lightly cooking the less-digestible raw sprouts in stir-fry’s; the light cooking makes them much more digestible.