Thursday, 26 March 2009

Sprouting Seeds - The Basics

I have sprouted seeds on and off for years now. I had intended to start again after my chemotherapy ended, but after doing some reading on Max Gerson and his therapy I read a little sentence somewhere that put me off. Max Gerson believed that there is an immature enzyme in sprouted seeds, particularly alfalfa I believe. ( My memory may deceive me on this point. I can't remember the exact source and it would be too much trouble to go and find it again. )However, after talking to various nutritional experts, both at The Haven Breast Cancer Centre in Leeds and London, and to Pat Reeves, and in reading further, I have come to the widely held conclusion that it is better by far to eat sprouted seeds regularly. They are full of nutrients, vitamins, minerals, and enzymes. and more modern cancer therapies advocate their use. So I'm having a fresh start with the seeds. I've purchased a state of the art seed sprouter , the Easygreen, to show my commitment, and because it hastens the whole process, and because it saves me some effort. I have a plan for the coming weeks and it involves using these seeds in recipes, so I need a good supply. The sprouter I've ordered (from Life Extension if the information's of any use to you ) was recommended by Pat Reeves, my nutritional therapist. She showed me hers and I was impressed. The apparatus is quite expensive - though they have recently come down in price. (It's genuine because I looked only a couple of weeks ago. ) - but it will save time on a morning when I don't have any extra to spare. I'm quite excited about my 'present' to myself.

I have used the stacking square trays that are specifically meant for seed sprouting in the past, and have been very successful with them and will probably continue to use them. I've also used jam jars, and again have recently gone back to using these - particularly for soaking seeds overnight prior to putting in the trays, since my friend Rosie told me I should be doing this. (It removes the enzyme inhibitors from the seeds. ) And I learned from my gardening class that these inhibitors are what stop the seeds from germinating immediately. The water in the soil gradually removes these chemicals and this process ensures that the seed has ideal growing conditions before it germinates. It's fascinating learning about seed germination. I learnt that some seeds require a cold spell before they germinate, some a warm and a cold and a warm period again. Some require burning to get them going. Some take years (peonies take 2 years before they germinate ) It's a wonder some plants thrive at all, but they are all just waiting for their own ideal conditions.

I have been amazed by the variety of seeds available for sprouting recently. I was in the garden centre at Harlow Carr recently and came away with lots of Thompson and Morgan seeds specifically meant for sprouting. It is unwise to use the seeds meant to be grown in earth. Those seeds - the vast majority - are often sprayed with chemicals and fungicides to prevent mould and mildew and rotting. Seeds I've recently found in the garden centre include :-

  • aduki beans

  • alfalfa

  • broccoli sprouts

  • black eyed peas

  • beet

  • basil

  • buckwheat

  • cress

  • green peas

  • lentils

  • mustard

  • onion

  • radish

  • red cabbage

  • rocket

  • snow peas

  • sunflower

  • salad sprouts mixed

  • sandwich mix

  • wheatgrass

That gives me a few to try !! There are many suppliers on the Internet which I will probably be making more use of, but I do like to browse actual seed packets and have something in my hand when I come away. I also collected some parsley seed from my own plants last year, and can see no reason why I couldn't sprout them. Except that they are notoriously difficult to germinate. Folklore has it that it will only germinate for the one who wears the trousers in the household .... I'll let you know.


  1. Soak the seeds for a few hours or overnight in fresh, clean, filtered water.

  2. Drain, rinse, and drain again. Leave either in a glass jar covered in muslin / clean kitchen cloth, or transfer to a seed sprouter.

  3. Rinse regularly, but a minimum of morning and night. The muslin over the jar acts as a sieve to contain the seeds so that you don't wash them away. Alternatively, if using a seed sprouting tray made for the purpose the water will automatically percolate through and you just empty the bottom tray. The water should be clean and fresh and preferably filtered. As the enzyme inhibitors have been soaked away from the seeds you can use this rinse water to water any other plants you are growing.

  4. Germination rates vary between seed varieties, and even between seeds of the same variety. ( I find beets to be particularly independent little fellows !! ) Some can be eaten within 2 to 3 days, others take 3 - 5 days, or longer. Check on the packet for instructions. I get a kick out of watching them germinate and grow and it's the one kind of gardening that can be done year round.

First crop from the Easygreen Sprouter :-

The seed germinator looks much like an incubator, and that's just what it is for plants, but unlike a heated propagator or incubator, the temperature is on the cool side. It is water in the form of a fine mist which is the most important element. It comes with a timer and mine is now set to come on at various intervals 7 times within each 24 hours.

The unit comes with 5 seed trays and I have scattered the following seeds :-

  • basil - slow to take off (3 days and no signs of life yet ) and the seeds clog the drainage holes. They have developed a jellylike substance that surrounds them, and look a bit like fish or frog eggs.
  • broccoli - just showing sprouts at 3 days.
  • beetroot - no sign of sprouting at 3 days
  • broccoli - just showing signs of sprouting at 3 days
  • lentils - showed first signs of sprouting at 2 days , but looking better at 3 days

A word about nuts and grains

Nuts should also be soaked to remove enzyme inhibitors. Ideally they should be soaked for 4 to 8 hours. I put mine in a cereal bowl with a saucer over the top and put them in the fridge. Once soaked I rinse them and try to use them fairly soon, but I think that they could be left for a little while to sprout. I have also dehydrated them afterwards. Is that defeating the object ? I don't think so because the enzyme inhibitors are gone and they won't need soaking for quite so long the second time. Once soaked they are lovely and moist and sweet. I think it was either Pat or my friend Rosie who said that nuts are dried and should be thought of in that way. You soak them to make them more easily digestible. I haven't yet tried sprouting grains, but will be soon. Such grains as quinoa and buckwheat can be sprouted, but I believe they only need sprouting till they have a tiny shoot no longer than the grain. I'll let you know when I sprout them. They don't need cooking if they have been sprouted and contain all their enzymes and nutrients. I should think that they are more alkaline than their cooked counterparts, though this is just an educated guess and I've seen nothing that says this. ( so I could be talking through my bottom !!)

Happy Sprouting !!


  1. Hi Jill,

    So nice to meet another Jill, but sad that we are in the same cancer club. We may have different philosophies about dealing with our cancers, but you are welcome to link your blog to mine.

    You may also want to join Club-Mets-BC at, a mailing list of all women living with met. breast cancer. It's a fabulous resource.

    Take good care,
    Jill in Seattle

  2. Hi Jill,
    Thank you for stopping by my blog. I am sorry to hear of your mets and am sending you gobs and gobs of positive prayers you will go into remission soon. Please sign up at so I can send you some cards. It is free! Shine on! :)