You should have seen the A.Vogel team’s eyes light up when we saw the full bioSnacky product range being stocked on shelves. Two sprouters and a variety of seeds... enough to make the most jaded of hipsters wipe drool off his beard. Some eager souls jumped into the fray and immediately dumped in the contents of three packs of seeds, one in each of the sprouter’s three trays. A few days later, confronted with the mucky disaster before them, they shrugged and called it quits. But that’s ancient history...
It’s kind of like when you get home from IKEA with 13 boxes of furniture to assemble and you rip them open and get to work without reading the instructions. You know what happens next... But by following the instructions, with a little care and patience, you’ll sprout into an expert in no time. In that sense, seed sprouts are like IKEA furniture too, but much less complex and with no missing parts. And our instructions include real words, not just pictograms! (Good news for the pictographically challenged among us!)
But before letting you in on our tips and tricks, let me give you a few good reasons to get sprouting!
First, the cost. Unlike most fancy new trends, sprouting is dirt cheap (pardon the pun). All you need is a sprouter and some seeds. Whether you opt for the three-tray bioSnacky Original or the bioSnacky Glass Germinator, the sprouter will be your only up-front investment. And frankly, they’re really affordable! As for the seeds, they cost almost nothing given their yield, especially when you see how much a small amount of sprouts costs at the supermarket. And then there’s the eco-friendly aspect: no plastic packaging.
Second, the nutritional benefits. Sprouts are living food, brimming with vitamins and minerals. Gram for gram, sprouted seeds contain more nutrients than any other food and even many supplements! In fact, all the nutritional potential of the fully grown plant can be found in the young sprout: enzymes, protein, minerals, trace elements and vitamins. Sprouts are even a good source of dietary fibre, which promotes proper bowel function. Given that their vitamin content jumps suddenly as they sprout and that you harvest them while they’re still growing, no nutrients are lost.
Third, they let you enjoy fresh produce in winter. Give your salads and sandwiches some bite, even in January, without having to blow your budget on imported greens. Add sprouts to your favourite Buddha bowls (aka hippie or macro bowls) or use them as a garnish for soups, stir-fries and stews.
Ready to start sprouting?
Sprouting techniques abound, including growing them in soil or in the dark. But in the humble opinion of our sprout-happy staff, these techniques are more complicated, messier and less productive than A.Vogel’s proposed method, which is both simple and highly productive, not to mention organic! What you’ll need: seeds, a sprouter, water and light. That’s it!
Choosing seeds is no small potatoes. Start with quality seeds, preferably organic ones, because you probably don’t want chemical residue in your sprouts, right? Avoid buying seeds in bulk—they’re likely to be contaminated by mould, dust or worse. Organic seeds sold in packets have a higher success rate. What’s more, given that soaking and germination time varies from one sprout type to another, it’s best to have clear instructions.
An important note about white moss. Yes, moulds can develop on your sprouts, and when it does, it points to a drainage issue or overly high humidity in the sprouter or even your home. However, several species of seeds, including alfalfa, mustard and red radish, produce tiny fibrous roots that form a white moss over young sprouts. Let your nose decide: unlike mould, white moss has a fresh or even spicy scent depending on the species.
Pro tips: 3 keys to success
1- Soaking: Soak the seeds for the time stated on the package. Soak each seed variety in a separate cup for the suggested time, drain them and place them on the bioSnacky Original sprouter tray or in the bioSnacky Glass Germinator’s jar.
For the trays, spread the seeds out to create a well-distributed, thin layer of seeds. Depending on the variety, you typically need between 1 and 2 tablespoons of seeds at a time. It doesn’t seem like much, but it allows for enough air to move around between the sprouts. Besides, you’ll be amazed at the yield: 1 tablespoon of seeds produces around 1 cup of sprouts!
2- Rinsing: Don’t confuse this with watering your plants. Seeds need to be rinsed with a good amount of cool water twice a day. Remove the rinse water and use it to water your indoor plants. In the three-tray sprouter, your best option is to pour a pitcher of water into the top tray, all in one go. The resulting pressure will make the water drain from one tray to the next until it reaches the surplus water tray. It’s important not to leave the rinse water in the bottom tray, because too much moisture will promote mould development.
In the three-tray sprouter, insert the red drain caps gently without pressing them all the way down, and alternate their positions to make sure they’re not lined up one above the other. Note that smaller seeds pose a special challenge because they sometimes get stuck in the drains; when that happens, dislodge them with a toothpick.
3- Let there be light... but not direct sunlight! Exposure to direct sunlight will raise the temperature within the sprouter, fostering bacterial growth. Use diffuse, indirect light for best results.
Follow the instructions: Soak, distribute, rinse and watch ‘em grow! Easier than the easiest IKEA bookcase! Come harvest day, you’ll be amazed at the yield and especially the intense flavour. Speaking of which, think twice before garnishing your young children’s sandwiches with radish sprouts: their spicy kick is not the kind of surprise kids like finding in their lunch! For the little ones, try some milder alfalfa or red clover instead.
Fantastic nutrition with sprouted seeds by Alison Cullen
A big thank-you to Mario Guilmette and Mary Juteau for their valuable tips.