Sprouts are seeds typically eaten just after they have germinated, when roots are still tiny and the plant is barely an inch or two tall. They are usually grown in jars or in hanging bags. They are enjoyed for a variety of reasons, including taste, crunch and nutritional value. Almost any kind of edible seed can be used for sprouting, and grains such as wheat, alfalfa and oats are popular. Often, wheat is not eaten when it first sprouts but is planted and allowed to grow, then harvested as short grass.
To grow wheat sprouts, the kernels of wheat are placed in a jar which is then filled with water. These are soaked overnight. Turning the jar upside down partway through the soaking period helps to ensure that the seeds will all be well-soaked by morning, a key factor in their ability to grow.
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After the kernels have been thoroughly soaked, they are rinsed well and drained. They may be left in a jar, or they may be placed in a hemp bag and allowed to dry. The wheat sprouts must be rinsed often so that they will not develop a musty flavor or odor. They should be rinsed at least once a day, though some prefer to rinse them two or three times a day.
Determining when the wheat sprouts are ready to eat is largely a matter of personal taste. Some people like them when they have just barely sprouted, while others like to let them grow for several days. The nutritional value of sprouts is high, as they contain all of the essential nutrients the seed needs to grow into a plant. Sprouting allows the vitamins that were locked into the seeds more available to the human digestive system.
When wheat grass is consumed, the started kernels are spread on a layer of soil in a tray and allowed to grow for another week or so beyond the sprout stage. To harvest, wheat grass is cut off at the base with scissors and is typically placed in a blender or juicer, often with other foods, and consumed as a juice. Many people drink wheat grass juice every day to take advantage of its nutritional benefits.
Wheat sprouts can be kept in the refrigerator for several days, as long as they don’t get too dry or too wet. They are best stored in a container that allows some air flow to prevent spoilage. Stored sprouts usually have the best flavor if they are rinsed right before they are eaten, then quickly added to salads, sandwiches, soups or other foods.