Sprouting: Why, How and What

“So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. The one who plants and the one who waters have one purpose, and they will each be rewarded according to their own labor. For we are co-workers in God’s service; you are God’s field, God’s building.”

~ 1 Corinthians 3:7-9 ~

Sprouting: Fun, Easy and a great nutritional boost. Keep reading to learn Why, How, and What to sprout.

Pictured: Sprouted Lentils

Why to Sprout

Without spending years (or hours or even very many minutes), confirming that all of these benefits are accurate as stated, here are some of the benefits that I found online that seemed reasonable and inline with other things we have been learning. (See the cited sources below for more details.)

  1. Increases Nutrient Absorption
    • Actually help the body absorb more nutrition from other foods, not just the sprouts.
  2. Makes Foods Easier to Digest
  3. Decreases Antinutrients and Phytic Acid
    • These include the natural chemicals/enzymes in seeds that keep them from sprouting until they have water.
  4. Increases Protein Availability
    • Sprouts contain up to 35% protein
      • Usually this is higher than the mature plant. One exception being for beans vs bean sprouts which are usually similar in protein content.
    • This protein is easily digestible.
  5. Increases Fiber Content
  6. Breaks Down Gluten for Easier Digestibility
  7. Helps Reduce Other Allergens Found in Grains
  8. May Increase Enzymes and Antioxidants
    • up to 100 times higher than raw fruits & vegetables
    • 1 cup broccoli sprouts = 28 mg vitamin E
      • 1 cup Unsprouted broccoli = 1.5 mg vitamin E
    • beans vitamin B2 increases 51% when sprouted
  9. Alkalizing to the body
    • Which helps offset the effects of stress and a poor diet
  10. Excellent for weight loss
    • low calorie density
      • very low calories compared with nutrition and fiber

In addition, sprouts are:

  1. Cheap
    • ¼ cup of mung beans will fill a one quart mason jar after just a few days of sprouting
    • This produces more filling and nutritious food than before sprouting, and only takes a few days.
  2. Quick to grow
    • compared with growing a full plant
  3. Educational
    • With homeschooling our children, it is amazing to experience things quickly growing from seed to plant… and then to get to enjoy eating… all within about a week.
  4. a Window to a glimpse of God
    • Seeing different aspects of God’s creation, from the grandeur of the universe to the details of a microbe, gives a growing appreciation of the creativity of our Creator God.
  5. Fun
    • You can see the fruit of all your “hard work” in just a few days and be ready to eat this marvelous garden that you have “toiled over.”

How to Sprout

As well as truly being nutritious, sprouting is the ultimate garden for those who like quick results with little work. :o)

All that you really need is a bowl to put the sprouts in, a towel (or something to keep the sprouts moist and covered), water and whatever you are going to sprout.

Here is some examples of my wife’s early sprouting trays (done as a fun and edible experiment with our boys).

Pictured: Sprouted Mung Beans

Notes about the sprouts above:

  • This was in a strawberry container, which allowed it to drain itself. They put water on it ever day to rinse them.
  • The towel you see is a heavier towel. You can also use a lighter towel (such as a paper towel). We were experimenting and found that the heavier towel produced shorter, thicker sprouts, while a lighter towel produces longer, thinner sprouts.
  • The final picture shows the leaves. We sprouted these on our window (normal sprouting is done out of direct sunlight). We ended up planting many of these in our garden and they grew. :o)

However, having a few tools can make sprouting even easier! And since I like “easy”, I’ll explain the way we mostly sprout now.

Materials:

  • Wide-mouth mason jar (usually 32 oz/4 cup)
    • the “wide-mouth” is helpful to get the sprouts out when they are ready
  • Sprouting lid (for the wide-mouth mason jar)
    • Note: Sometimes people don’t notice that you can remove and wash the rubber washer in the lid. It can be easily removed, washed and replaced.
  • Water
  • Whatever you are going to sprout (beans, lentils, nuts, seeds, etc.)

Directions to Sprout

The following directions assume a standard size 32oz (4 cup), wide-mouth mason jar. I will use Mung Beans as my example, but the directions are the same for beans, lentils, nuts, seeds, etc.. The sprouting times may be different and you may learn to start with more or less seeds, beans, etc., but the basic directions are the same and you can give it a try, learn and make changes from there.

  1. Put ¼ cup of dry beans in the mason jar
    • The amount is flexible. This just gives an idea of how little you need.
    • Note: These are the dried beans such as mung beans, red beans, garbanzo beans, etc. NOT long string beans.
  2. Put on the sprouting lid
    • The lid will stay on until the beans are sprouted and ready to eat
  3. Rinse the beans
    1. Put enough water in the jar to cover and rinse the beans.
    2. Dump out the water
  4. Soak the beans for 24 hours
    • Fill the jar with water.
      • It doesn’t have to be to the brim.
      • The beans will expand when they soak up the water and “wake up”. There just needs to be enough water to keep them covered while they are soaking. 
    • Note: The soaking “wakes up” the beans, prepares them to grow and brings them back to life.
  5. NOTE: Keep your sprouts out of direct sunlight during the entire sprouting process.
    • Sunlight will cause the sprouts to grow leaves and start growing into the full plant.
      • This isn’t bad for you, actually it can be good, but may cause the sprouts to have a more bitter taste.
      • They can be in a darker corner of the counter, or in a cabinet.
    • If your sprouts are growing dark green they were probably in the light.
  6. After soaking for 8-12 hours: Dump out the soaking water
  7. Rinse the beans
    1. Put enough water in the jar to rinse the beans. 
    2. Dump out the water
  8. Drain the rinse water
    1. Dump out the water
    2. Set the jar upside down to let it drain for about 15 minutes.
      • The sprouting lid has feet to raise it above the sink, so that it can drain.
    3. The seeds will still be damp, but not soaked.
    4. Put your seeds out of direct sunlight.
  9. Lay the jar on it’s side
    • This allows airflow, which keeps the sprouts from getting mold.
  10. REPEAT steps 7 through 9 twice a day (Rinsing and Draining the beans)
    • You should rinse and drain the beans twice a day.
    • This keeps the beans moist so that they will stay alive and grow.
    • It also keeps the water fresh, so that mold doesn’t form.
    • If you forget occasionally and only do it once a day, it should be fine, but it’s best to do it twice a day. (Perhaps once with breakfast and one at dinner.)
  11. Eat or refrigerate your sprouts
    • When they are ready, you can eat or refrigerate your sprouts.
    • They are ready whenever you say they are ready. Some people like very short sprouts, so may only sprout for 1-3 days. Some like longer sprouts, so may sprout for about a week.
    • Getting used to the taste of sprouts may take some time (especially if they had sunlight and started to turn green/bitter). Here are some tricks.
      • Include sprouts in other foods such as salads, smoothies, etc.
      • While some sprouts will die and lose much of their value if cooked, some hardy sprouts, such as mung beans, can be added to a stir fry, etc. when you are almost done cooking.

If you really get into sprouting and need more spouts, you can also buy a sprouting tray, though we haven’t reached that level. We just use several mason jars, so we can sprout different things, and start them at different times.

What to Sprout

You can sprout just about any RAW bean, lentil, nut or seed. If it is safe to eat, it is safe to sprout. If it has been cooked, all life is gone and it will not sprout.

Two of our favorites are:

  • Mung Beans
    • We buy organic mung beans at a local asian market
  • Lentils
    • We buy lentils at a local mediterranean market

You can play around. If you aren’t sure if something will sprout, try it with a small amount. If you aren’t sure if it is raw or not, you can try sprouting it and see if it works.

Lessons from sprouting

God made an amazing creation! A seed, dried bean, etc. can sit dormant for months, years, decades and sometimes even centuries and millennia, and yet given the right circumstances (water and air), can sprout and bring forth new life and duplicate to new plants.

1 Corinthians 3:7 reminds us that, “… neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow.” This can be seen so clearly with sprouts. We literally take the seed God created, keep it wet and watch it grow. I know of nothing that man has made that has this ability to grow, change, and reproduce all on its own (other than things that have God made materials as a part of them). Yet, it happens around us all the time. Sprouting gives a just a glimpse into this amazing ability that God has built into creation. This process was started in Genesis 1:11 and continues to this day. (Genesis 1:11-12, “Then God said, “Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds.” And it was so. The land produced vegetation: plants bearing seed according to their kinds and trees bearing fruit with seed in it according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good.”

God’s creation is indeed very, very good!

Likewise, when God plants the seed of faith in us, when that seed is given what it needs, the Word of God, time with Him in prayer, and the fellowship of believers, it will sprout and grow. God does this work, to give us true life, cause us to grow and then to reproduce seeds of faith in the world. (cf: Matthew 13)

Enjoy your sprouting journey. Let us know if you have any questions, comments or suggestions.

References

Polyface Farm (Part 3)

This is continued from “Polyface Farm (Part 2)“.

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.”

~ John 10:10 -11 ~

If this way of farming produces abundant, healthy food, with lower expenses, risks and dependence on outside systems why don’t all farms work this way?

There are three main reasons why more farms aren’t run this way (concepts pointed out by Joel during the tour, but we flushed them out in our own words below).

1. Change is hard – Change is always hard, it may be exciting, but the unknown is uncertain. It is extra hard if all you know is one way to do things. It is extra, extra hard if you have invested in the facilities and equipment for industrial agriculture, with contracts with these industries. Change is hard!

2. Lies are powerful – Industrial agriculture is built to benefit Big Pharma and Big Ag. The costs for fertilizer, shots, vets, feed, pesticides, etc. mean huge profits for the Pharmaceutical and Agricultural industries. Then add on that most pharmaceuticals, fertilizers, pesticides and all the transportation is based on petroleum, there are huge profits for Big Oil. These are three powerful players with huge bankrolls to influence government policy (and subsidies), education (of what farmers should do) and outlets (to control advertising and sales). These entities thrive on lies about how the food system should work and strive to keep it working that way, even if it is unsustainable, as we see happening with food shortages around the world. (We talk about how sad it is that people are starving “in the world, over there” because power hungry groups block food distribution. We have the same problems here. They are just so close that we don’t see them.)

3. More manual labor – Most farms today are run by a few technicians and a lot of machines. Moving chicken tractors around the field, calling cows to the next paddock, planting seeds in mulch, etc. all take manual labor. Sustainable farming takes the expenses that were going to the Pharmaceutical, Agricultural and Petroleum industries and invests it into people. These farms aren’t full of machines and a few technicians, they are full of a community of people with a few machines interacting with plants and animals on a healthy farm. This change of mindset and farm setup can be a hard jump to make (though more and more are making it).

As we thought about it, we realized that these same influences impact the decisions families make. Why don’t more people raise their own food, train their own children and have the peace of birth at home (the ways that things were done since the creation of the world until modern history). 

Change is hard, when all you know is what your parents and the society around us has done. That doesn’t make it right or best, it just makes it what we know and change is hard. We are trapped in the worldly system in numerous ways we don’t even realize, or even if we do we are often too tired or too busy to make a change.  

Lies are powerful. We have been told that the professionals can train our children best and that women need experts and machines for a healthy delivery. While there is a (rare) need for intervention at times, the peace of a homebirth, possibly with a skilled midwife, not only doesn’t have these problems, but often knows how to peacefully take care of problems that are considered medical emergencies in the hospital. However, there is big money and big advertising, promoting our need to follow the world’s systems. And for education… no one knows, loves and can care and mentor your child better than you as you seek to love the Lord above everything else.

Finally, more manual labor. Sending children off to industrial schools seems easy. Eating and living any way we like seems convenient as we buy our foods and don’t have to plant, water, weed, cook and prepare them. Then we can let the hospitals fix our health issues. Letting the system take care of our health, responsibilities and problems is tempting. 

As we break free from the world’s systems, we have more freedom, but as we teach our children, great freedom comes with great cost and responsibility. We need God’s mercy and grace daily to live out our faith.  In the meantime, our life has more substance with richer personal relationships. His blessings are manyfolds just like the crop a farmer plants. Hard work? Yes! Rewards? Yes, we always reap more than we sow. All for His glory! 

Perhaps you have had a prompting that something isn’t right with the world’s systems, but you haven’t had the evidence, energy or desire to give it much thought. You follow the flow against your will and hope for the best since everyone else is doing it anyway. Our prayer is that we would have ears to hear and eyes to see and then to obey as God leads. We pray the same for you.

The trip to Polyface Farm was a wealth of knowledge about how the world works and our place in it. They will answer any questions about farming or anything else, as they want to help others duplicate this sustainable way of life.

The more we understand God’s amazing no-waste system, the less we feel we know. We have so much to discover, to learn, to apply and to embrace. We don’t have our own farm yet (though anywhere can be a “homestead”), but we still had so many insights and are excited to see where God takes us next in his plan for our lives! Writing this post is our first step of response as we reflect and apply what we do understand. 

And therein lies the most important point. It’s not that everyone should have a farm, raise their own food, home educate their children, no longer need a doctor, etc. The point is that everyone should earnestly pray, seek God and follow the ways he lays out in his Word and leads by his Spirit. The “default” should be to invest into our relationship with Christ, seeking him and his ways, rather than defaulting to the ways this world presents as solutions and distractions.

We fail over and over and over again. We struggle and fall and need to get up again, repent and move on. Life is hard and gives plenty of opportunities for growth as Christ makes us more into his image.

While Joel has many books about how to do sustainable farming, his book “The Marvelous Pigness of Pigs: Respecting and Caring for All God’s Creation” gives a bigger view of the “Why” and “How” God created the world to work. We recommend it as a book that every Christ-follower at this time of history would benefit from reading (or listening to Joel read on the audio book). It is not the nuts and bolts of farming, it is more of an eye opening look at the world we live in and the way God created it to be (even after the fall). Just be prepared in your heart and mind to be transformed as the Truth leads you to more freedom! 

It is important to note that Polyface wasn’t an instant success, Joel wasn’t a “celebrity farmer” and there are other farms doing what they are doing (though not nearly enough). His family moved to the farm when it was in shambles. They left all they knew. They didn’t know what was right as they figured out what was next, they just knew that the industrial ways were not right and that God’s ways are best. They took risks. They struggled. They questioned. They failed. They remained faithful. And God is always faithful. It wasn’t until Michael Pollen’s “The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals” that the world really heard about Polyface Farm and Joel Salatin. They had been faithful with God’s leading, and God chose to raise them up as an example.

We don’t need to know how our faithfulness will turn out. We just need to seek God, know that he is good, know what is right and trust and obey, no matter the cost.
In addition to his book ““The Marvelous Pigness of Pigs”, some additional recommendations are the films “Fresh: Sustainable Food Production in America” and “Polyfaces: Food Without Chemicals: From Family Farm to Table”.

Polyface Farm (Part 1)

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.”

~ John 10:10 -11 ~

Polyface Farm, in Swoope, Virginia is probably the most famous farm for sustainable agriculture in America… and we had never heard of it until a few months ago… so it’s never too late to learn. If you haven’t either… It is worth your time getting acquainted if you are looking for ways for sustainable farming and living. :o)

Once Joel Salatin and Polyface farm showed up on our radar, they seemed to be everywhere. For us it started in 2021 with a trip to the “Homesteaders of America” conference where Joel Salatin was the featured speaker. Then, in 2022, some friends of ours (who homestead in Ohio), let us know that they were organizing for Joel Salatin to speak in the area. We couldn’t attend that event, but when we were talking with one of the youth at our church (who built his own goat barn at age 10, and now raises goats, cows and enough chickens to be selling broilers for profit), we asked him how he learned so much and he mentioned Joel Salatin’s books. We were excited to be able to let him know about the event, which allowed him to go and meet this man who has had such a great impact on his life. Then we watched ”Fresh”, and Joel was quite prominent in the video. 

Finally, in May of 2022, we took a trip to Virginia to go camping, and see Rob’s sister and scheduled a tour of Polyface Farm, led by… Joel Salatin. We put together a video of the farm tour, which is far from catching the breadth and depth of the tour, but gives a quick overview.

Our biggest take-away from the visit to PolyFace farm is that what God made works amazingly well if you treat it the way that God created it to be treated (and is amazingly resilient even if you don’t). Here are some examples, simply looking at the cows.

  • Their cows (and other animals) receive no shots and are much healthier (with much healthier and better tasting meat) since they are given the diet and life God created them for. 
    • Most industrially raised animals are given many shots and meds (which go into our food), while cows raised the way God made them don’t need any. (A quick digression: Are we humans required to have many shots these days as well? Could part of that be our weakened immune systems?… and a fair bit of financial incentive for “those in charge”?) 
  • In nature, the larger herbivores come through the fields and keep the grass at the best height for healthy growth while also depositing wonderful fertilizer (manure), which can be used around the farm. When they move on, the birds then follow and peck through the manure for bugs and break it down. This then results in healthier grass (and other plants) and the cycle continues, without the need for any industrial fertilizers.
  • If cows were simply raised the way God intended them (as grazing herbivores), the world would have plenty of food without the need for pharmaceuticals, fertilizer or pesticides (and the bills, health costs and dependence on outside supplies).
    • Think about the supply issues and food shortages that are constantly in the news this year due to fertilizer issues. This problem should never have existed if we had followed God’s natural ecosystems rather than man-made industrialized system.
    • People would then eat healthier foods and be healthier and reduce healthcare costs.

Our personal applications from the trip will be discussed in “Polyface Farm Part 2”.

Our Tower Garden Experience

Contact us or visit the Tower Garden website
to learn more about our experience
or growing your own Tower Garden!
Providing us with extremely local, chemical free and just picked greens (of many sorts), tomatoes, zucchini, cucumbers,  herbs & flowers all spring, summer and fall, and….
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… through the winter, too!
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  • FUN – We have had a ton of fun and are so grateful for our Tower Gardens.
  • EASY – I can’t say it’s “workless”, but it is certainly “work less”. I add water around once every 2-4 weeks depending on what we are growing and the temperature. I don’t need to prepare the ground. There are no weeds. There is no daily care needed. I don’t do any trimming. Our biggest thing we do it just pick and eat.
  • SIMPLE SUCCESS – I was not a gardener. Yet, our first garden (see above) turned out very well, as have all others since.
  • DEVELOP AN INTEREST IN GARDENING – We have grown an enjoyment in gardening that led to buying a second Tower, and also planting in the ground (though in the ground is not nearly as easy or productive :).
  • EDUCATIONAL – We have all learned so much about how plants grow.
  • ELIJAH EATS EVERYTHING – Elijah runs out and grabs anything from greens to tomatoes and even flowers and stuffs them in his mouth. (We only plant edible flowers, and he knows to only pick from the Tower, not others in the yard.)
  • TASTE – We now better understand when people say that garden fresh produce tastes better. So much better!
  • CAN’T KILL IT – I call it the garden that will not die. I add water about once every 3-4 weeks. Twice I forgot to add water and it looked like it had died. I added water and within a few hours it was back to full life. (This is more of a testimony to the amazing design God gave plants that we have come to appreciate, than to the Tower Garden, though the way it waters does allow the water to be absorbed more easily.)
  • REALLY CAN’T KILL IT – Our garden has flourished on a year when everyone else’s was dying.
  • WINTER GROWING – We even moved it inside for the coldest winter (2013-2014) and it did well just next to a medium sized window with no grow lights. (See pictures above). Outside with full sunshine grow most things faster, but inside did very well.
  • SAVE MONEY – We eat a lot of greens and we didn’t need to buy greens or tomatoes for over half of the year! We bought it for around $10 a week for the first year, and have been eating almost for free ever since and looking to years to come.
  • Over all, this has been an amazingly fun, healthy, habit developing experience!