How can you grow fresh food without soil, sunshine and minimal water? The answer is sprouts!
This brief article and accompanying video will show you some of our favourite sprouts on board, a simple way to get started sprouting at sea or in your home and some common traps to look out for when sprouting.
Sprouts only take around 3 to 5 days to grow from seed form until they are fully mature. This is how we can eat healthy fresh food while out at sea and months away from civilisation.
Most sprouts generally require an overnight soak and then regular rinsing 3 times a day for about 4 days. You can reuse the sprouting water to rinse multiple seeds that are sprouting in different containers. This is really great for us as we only hold about 250L fresh water on our boat at any one time so we have to be careful about our fresh water consumption.
Quick Alfalfa and Mung Bean Sprouts
The simplest legumes to get started with are mung beans and alfalfa. Here I’m going to demonstrate to you how we sprout both of these on our boat taking up minimal space and effort.
First you’ll need a wide mouthed clear (glass or plastic) 1L container or jar, some plastic mesh or muslin cloth and a firm elastic band to fit the mesh over the top of the container.
In a large 1L container place a cup of mung beans and soak for a minimum of 8 hours. I generally leave mung beans to soak in water overnight. For the alfalfa, place a tablespoon of seeds in a medium sized container and soak for 4 hours.
Pour out the sprout water after the required soaking time and lay to rest where they can drain well, repeat this rinsing 2 to 3 times a day until the sprout is fully mature and then place in the fridge.
That’s it! So simple you now have your very own living food to add to cooking or to eat raw as a tasty snack.
To soak seeds other than alfalfa and mung beans is a very similar process. There are also many other ways to sprout mung beans and alfalfa but this is the way that we find the simplest aboard Mirrool in our little galley.
Some common traps to be aware of…
Here’s a few traps where things might go wrong when sprouting. While sprouts are pretty resilient you’re essentially looking after baby plants and sometimes they may die in adverse conditions.
If it is too hot in the space where you are sprouting your seeds: I’ve found that any temperatures above 30 degrees Celsius or 90 Farenheit.
If it gets really hot you may find that your sprouts will die. If this is the case you can place them in the fridge and continue the rinsing/sprouting process in the fridge until the weather cools however they will take longer to mature this way.
If there is too much moisture around the sprouts in a high humidity environment they will sweat and putrify. To combat this in high humidity (periods of heavy rainfall or the tropics in summertime) I place the sprouts in the fridge. Mung beans tend to sprout even in high humidity which is why we recommend them as a great beginner sprouting seed.
Sometimes you’ve done everything right but you’re still not getting your seeds to sprout. This has happened to me and to other cruisers I’ve spoken to. To combat this you need to make sure that the seeds you are sprouting (particularly if they are legumes) are not more than a couple of years old.
WRONG SOAKING TIME
Soak according to guidelines for particular seed. The guidelines are actually pretty loose and if you stray away from the guidelines a little your seeds will probably still sprout. However if you stick to the guidelines you will get faster germination and maturing times. I’ve included a link to a table below with some of the most common seeds you are likely to sprout with soaking, rinsing and maturing times:
Sprouts grow in a moist environment that is optimal to harbour bacteria so you need to make sure that the seeds you are using are suitable for sprouting and do not have any agricultural matter on them. ALWAYS have good hygiene when handling your sprouts.
A lot of people have contacted me concerned about potential threat of Ecoli and Salmonella from sprouting. I’ve been sprouting on a weekly basis for more than 5 years now and Troy much longer and we have never had an issue sprouting at home.
It is my understanding that these outbreaks occur from store bought sprouts that you purchase at your own risk because you don’t know the conditions under which they were grown. Since it is so easy to sprout at home we strongly recommend that you avoid purchasing sprouts from the supermarket to be assured of zero contamination.
Get Sprouting Today!
I really hope you enjoyed this article and accompanying video motivates you to start sprouting in your galley or home kitchen! It really is a fantastic way to be able to eat the freshest of food. This is particularly important if you are on an ocean passage or in the remote wilderness where purchasing fresh fruit and vegetables is simply not possible.
Please let me know if you have any further questions or queries about sprouting and do let me know how you go, I’d love to hear your feedback.
For more information I strongly recommend grabbing a copy of this book by Isabel Shippard. There is literally everything you need to know about sprouting in here!
(I am not affiliated with Isabell in any way I just think her book is the best and most comprehensive book about sprouts on the market)
Stay tuned for some of our favourite sprouting recipes, I’m working on it. In the meantime, if you would like to follow along with my food creations on Instagram you can follow along here: