Thursday, October 29, 2009

How to do Alfalfa Sprouting

I have been wanting to try sprouting for a while, but I couldn't find alfalfa seeds anywhere. I was looking in garden stores, and every place, seemingly, where seeds are sold. One of my readers suggested Whole Foods. Duh. I had to get an associate to help me, but I finally found alfalfa seeds near the bulk bins.

$12.99 per pound.

Our produce rule is we generally won't pay over $1 per pound. So, I bought 0.02 pounds for $0.26. So, I am hoping for four ounces of sprouts. (To see any photos in color, click on them.)

I am going by the sprouting guide from The Farm. The first step is to take two or three tablespoons and look them over. Well, we only got maybe two teaspoons, so that is what we are working with. She suggests spreading them on a plate to check for stones.

The guide then suggests straining them in a strainer, but these seeds are too tiny, so I skip a step and put them in my jar. I cover them with about two inches of water.

Cheesecloth is suggested from the guide, but I used any old loosely woven material. I also picked out something pretty. It's going to be on my kitchen table for several days, so why not make it pretty? Also, if it's pretty, my eye will be more drawn to it and I will be more likely to follow each step each day. So, take out a small piece of loosely woven fabric, cover the jar, and tighten it with an elastic. I actually used a pipe cleaner, as someone has broken into my stash of elastics. A hair elastic would do as well.

Day One
Put seeds in jar. Cover with water. Leave overnight.

Day Two
Morning: Pour out water. Cover seeds with water. Pour out water. I left mine upside down on my dish strainer for a few hours.
Evening: Cover seeds with water. Pour out water.
Day Three
Morning: Cover seeds with water. Pour out water.
Evening: Cover seeds with water. Pour out water.

Day Four
Morning: Cover seeds with water. Pour out water.
Evening: Cover seeds with water. Pour out water.Day Five
Morning: Cover seeds with water. Pour out water.
Evening: Cover seeds with water. Pour out water. Around day five, probably midday, they seemed long enough, about an inch long. I weighed them and they were 3.25 ounces. That means they are $1.28 per pound. That's not a bad price, especially compared to store bought sprouts, which aren't nearly as fresh. We enjoyed the sprouts. The kids ate them plain. Daniel thought I was feeding them some kind of grass, but he liked it. I'm not going to sprout alfalfa seeds again, because I came across this piece of information since my sprouting experiment.


"Tests have shown that alfalfa sprouts inhibit the immune system and can contribute to inflammatory arthritis and lupus. Alfalfa seeds contain an amino acid called canavanine that can be toxic to man and animals when taken in quantity." Nourishing Traditions, Sally Fallon, p 113.
I have several other things I'm going to try sprouting, though, and I'll be posting about them.

22 comments:

Scottish Twins said...

Thanks so much for this post. I too am just now getting into sprouting.

DH takes an alfalfa aupplement every day to help with his arthritis in his hip. I have been wanting to try sprouting my own so he could skip the supplement and eat it through food.

You have inspired me to buy some seeds today :)

I'm was just saying yesterday that I'm going to try sprouting my pumpkin seeds. I'll let you know how they turn out!

Anonymous said...

That is pretty cool about the alfalfa sprouts- I might try it. My husband and I are pretty big health nuts so I think this would make it more affordable for us.
I have done research on alfalfa sprouts before - they have many great benefits - I wonder why you chose to follow the one negative "fact" you found? I have not read "Nourishing Traditions" but in the subtitle it says that the purpose is to “challenge politically correct nutrition and diet doctrines.” That seems to be a theme for you. Why is it that you seek out these references and believe them to be true among the sea of others that contradict it? I’m not saying that you shouldn’t challenge society’s view of things or government standards. You should apply what works in the best interest for your family. However the information you believe to be true should be researched and give you enough support to validate your choice. I hope this is the case. Because just as you scrutinize politically correct/society views, I feel like the references you use should be scrutinized just as much- if not more.

Jamie

Jenny said...

Do you sometimes find that your selection of fruits and vegetables are a little limited when you're shopping for things that are no more than $1/lb? I can think of many things that can be purchased for that price- potatoes (and sweet potatoes), carrots, cabbage, apples if you're lucky, bananas, frozen veggies, etc. Are you able to afford many fresh veggies beyond the obvious potatoes, carrots, etc? (Just to be fair, there's absolutely nothing nutritionally wrong with frozen, I'm just curious about what you're able to buy for $1/lb.) Are there any fruits or veggies that you really love but miss because they're too expensive? I think I would really miss raspberries, avocados, fresh pineapple, and baby spinach.

KAR said...

The first thing to discuss is the fact that lupus is an autoimmune disease.

The second it that alfalfa sprouts do not inhibit the immune system - they stimulate it thereby creating lupus flare ups. Whether someone who is not already predisposed to lupus can "catch it" from alfalfa sprouts has not been determined to my knowledge.

Further more, it's been recommended that people with autoimmune disorders such as lupus should not take echinacea due to the fact that it also stimulates the immune system and can cause negative reactions.

Leslie said...

FYI it isn't just alfalfa sprouts - clover sprouts also contain canavanine. I was deeply disappointed as we really enjoyed red clover sprouts (I am an autoimmune sufferer).

Broccoli sprouts are wonderful in salads, as snacks, and on sandwiches, though!

I am not a 'sprouter', just an interested hobbyist, but I do like the confidence of knowing that home sprouts are free of e-coli and all of the other assorted crud that comes with store-bought.

Anonymous said...

This is very interesting, I've been thinking about sprouting for a few months now.

I normally purchase the commercial mung bean sprouts for a few dishes I enjoy making at home, but I don't want commercially grown sprouts anymore. There was a issue earlier this year with a contaminated lot of them. We've been trying to get as many things local and organic as possible, without blowing our budget, so every little bit helps. I've been making changes for a few years now as I can.

I've been looking at sproutpeople.com . They seem like a very down to earth company. On their home page, they give a note about their organic selections. I like that they're from US and basically a mom and pop operation. If they offer anything that isn't organic, it's clearly marked.

I haven't ordered yet, but their prices look much cheaper compared to what you payed at Whole Foods.

The alfalfa concerns me. I grew up on a midwestern farm, and all the farmers in the area fed their cattle alfalfa. Clover contains the same amino acid. Even the organic farmers had it in their fields. I'm sure the indirect interaction of eating alfalfa fed meat as opposed to eating the actual sprouts is quite different though. That's just another reason my family isn't big on meat. Some day I'll get around to doing some more research on it.

crabcakes said...

I think that's a great idea! I would consider buying a lot more sprout seeds next time though even though it breaks your "price per pound" rule.

I was thinking that you spent 26 cents on the seeds but how much did you spend on gas driving to whole foods, you know?

Whole foods is a trip I really stock up on certain things for. I only go twice a year and I make it worth the drive. I think it's something you can consider doing now that your sprout experiment was successful.

crabcakes said...

yikes..nevermind...apparently I missed the part about you not sprouting again! ha ha ha

Anonymous said...

This is totally not related to alfafa sprouts, but I just wanted to say thanks for this site! I just tried doing laundry in the bathtub the other day - and just like you said, it didn't take long (in terms of actual effort) and worked just fine. And yesterday, I used my crockpot to turn a dollar's worth of milk into about ten dollar' worth of Greek-style yoghurt, using these instructions, which I found via your blog: http://crockpot365.blogspot.com/2008/10/you-can-make-yogurt-in-your-crockpot.html

It's going to save me a fortune, because the baby is a yoghurt fiend and goes through a whole 32oz carton of it every week!

Anonymous said...

Very interesting. I've thought about "sprouting" as well, but I thought I would use lentils instead of alfalfa.

Glad to see you mentioned info from Nourishing Traditions. I would like to get my hands on a copy of that book!

Taurman Inc. said...

Emily,
I am a fairly new reader and really like your blog. I think the sprouting idea is great. Store bought sprouts are expensive and are highly likely to be dangerous. They are one of the top vegetables that are contaminated in the growing process. I wonder if broccoli seeds are available and would sprout. They are insanely nutritious.

DarcyLee said...

I already knew about alfalfa sprouts being being toxic but your tutorial was the best I've seen. I've never tried sprouting before but since seeing yours I don't find it so intimidating. Thanks for sharing this!

Anonymous said...

I can't do alfalfa because of my autoimmunity. I thought they were yummy though the times I did eat them.

Sprout your pumpkin seeds! I usually don't make it to the sprouting phase and eat them after a couple days of soaking. Very tasty with sea salt. -Cris

Atheist Mama said...

I don't necessarily agree with the quote there on the bottom...it seems like people can find two contradicting results about ANYTHING nowadays!

That being said, alfalfa sprouts are good, but expensive! I don't recommend buying sprouting seeds because of the cost. You can sprout pretty much any legume or grain...just experiment.

Oh - and I totally hear you on the "under $1 per pound" rule on produce! Expensive produce makes me cringe :P

Audrey at Barking Mad! said...

Hi Emily,

This is my first time commenting here, although I've been reading for probably two months now. I can't recall how I found you but it might have been after someone linked me to The Takedown. I am absolutely intrigued.

I guess I should probably tell you I'm a fellow Mainer, from the midcoast area.

Your blog is very humbling not to mention interesting, especially seeing as how I love alfalfa sprouts and had absolutely no clue that they were potentially toxic! I tend to put them on sandwiched EVERY STINKIN DAY and am now wondering if that's what's causing some of the awful joint pain I've been having. I don't know but I suppose, after reading the paragraph you cited, it's worth looking into.

You and I are probably worlds apart, philosophically and the way we approach life but I just thought I'd say hello and let you know I really enjoy reading your blog and it's been a real eye opener for me and sort of a slap upside the head...so-to-speak.

I do have a ton of questions but don't want to impose on your time and I'm going to see if I can't find answers on the FAQ or through older posts.

BTW, have you thought about bean sprouts? I LOVE those as well. I think my mom tried sprouting them when I was a kid but I can't recall how well that turned out. I think I'll probably weep if you turn up information somewhere about them being toxic. *lol*

Ami said...

You can sprout almost any seed, nut or whole grain. It's really fun! I sprouted dried peas once, and they went from a starchy bean taste to fresh peas taste--much yummier! Also, sprouted beans are a lot easier to digest.

I have a fine mesh strainer, so after soaking I just leave the item in it and rinse 2-3 times a day until they are as sprouted as I like them.

Jill said...

Huh. I didn't know that about the alfalfa sprouts ... what exactly was the "quantity" used in the study to determine it's toxicity? You've piqued my interest!

TL Black said...

I didn't know that about alfalfa sprouts! But there are so many things to sprout out there. I recently had beet sprouts and carrot sprouts. They were colorful and really interesting. I've been wondering about the cost, though. There must be cheapter places to buy sprouting supplies than Whole foods. I'm thinking maybe something online?

Anyway, sprouts are so healthy. So much of the nutritional value of veggies and fruits is lost in transportation and storage. I've even heard that veggies that are frozen are sometimes more healthy than those that make the trip to the produce section because they are frozen right away. With sprouts, there's no travel time involved!

Emily said...

Jenny, I get frozen mixed berries for $1/lb, and can easily get apples and bananas as well. The $1/lb guideine has served us very well, but I do break it for avacadoes on occasion.

crabcakes, Whole Foods is just down the street from DH's school, and I go with him one day a week so I can shop in "the big city". I'll be sprouting other things from Whole Foods, too.

TL Black, I'm sure online sources are cheaper, but I want to find out what I want to sprout long term before buying in bulk, so buying from Whole Foods is good for now, and not that expensive. I agree on the frozen foods often being more nutritious than fresh that has travelled.

Atheist Mama said...

Jenny -

I pretty much stick to the under $1 per pound thing too and I eat a wide variety of IN SEASON produce.

I don't shop at fancy stores, which helps me stretch my dollar (literally, lol!).

My past shopping trip I got apples, bananas, pears, kiwis (I miss the summer fruits already!), potatoes, carrots, winter squash, yams, broccoli, romaine lettuce, tomatoes, cauliflower, cucumbers...I could go on.

Just wanted to point out it's quite possibly to eat a varied diet on the cheap ;)

Jackie said...

I don't know if you've heard of this, it's www.angelfoodministries.com It's food from churches that you buy, but it's discounted greatly. I odn't know if if you'd do better with this or on your current system, but it never hurts to look.

Atheist Mama said...

Angel food ministries is actually pretty neat! When I was still a Christian I was looking into starting one at my church...never happened though.

Anyway, if you have one locally you might wanna check it out - maybe you can get your budget even lower :)

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