I never gave sprouts much thought before I got chickens. I liked sprouts. I would eat them. But, I had no idea how nutritious they were, or how one goes about making sprouts. Sprouts are one of the superfoods. They contain up to 30 times more nutrients than organic raw vegetables. The protein, fiber and mineral content increases significantly during the sprouting process. There is claim to reducing cancer and losing weight just by eating sprouts. There seems to be no downside to growing and eating your own sprouts. You’ve heard of wheatgrass and all it’s health benefits, right? Well, why not grow your own? It’s easy, it’s fun, and it doesn’t get much fresher than being grown right in your own kitchen.
You can sprout grains, seeds, beans and pretty much anything that grows. I’ve experimented with various grains, and just recently started sprouting sunflower seeds. They take a bit longer than wheat or barley, but the chickens love them! I sprout various types of wheat–I like them all, and the gals do, too. I like the idea of being able to give my chickens fresh sprouts year-round. The quality of eggs they give me is a direct result of what I feed them (along with how I treat them, of course).
To sprout your own seeds, beans, or whole grains be sure to get the kind that have not been sprayed with chemicals, which may inhibit growth. You can get them in supermarkets, natural food stores, etc. I use black oil sunflower seeds that are sold as bird seed.
Here’s how I go about making sprouts: I place about a handful of seed or grain in a canning jar, fill it with cool water, and let it sit overnight. I place a piece of cheesecloth over the top and secure it with a rubberband or two. (I’ve found rubberbands work better than using the canning ring, though those will work in a pinch.) After about eight hours I drain the water out, rinse it a few times, and let it sit in a dimly lit corner of my kitchen counter. I rinse them 2-3 times a day. In about a day you can see the grain start to sprout–it will grow a little tail. In about three days, the sprouts are ready for eating or feeding to the chickens. Some will take longer. At any given time, I usually have 3-5 jars sitting on the counter, all in various stages of sprouting.
It’s amazing how much I have learned about various foods since I started keeping chickens. I am more connected to my food sources than I have ever been. The girls are good for me in more ways than one! Time to go give the girls their daily sprouts–I can hear them calling me…
Have a super sprout-filled day!