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Dean Pomerleau

Growing Sprouts - Including Broccoli Sprouts

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Over on the Key Foods/Nutrients/Substances thread, I touted the benefits of sprouts, particularly broccoli sprouts, saying:

 

Gram-for-gram, broccoli sprouts are much higher in sulforaphane than broccoli. Here is a good Nutritionfacts.org video on the benefits of sulphoraphane, and below are Dr. Greger's references [included below in this new thread as well].

 

Michael quibbled over whether I mean sprouts in general, or broccoli sprouts in particular are a special food. My view - there is strong evidence for the latter but that doesn't rule out the former, so I grow and eat other sprouts, in addition to broccoli. He colorfully then said:

 

I'd be eating them [i.e. broccoli sprouts] myself, if they weren't stupid-expensive, perishable, prone to foodborne illness, and wastefully packaged when purchased, and in my experience as a Sprout House homesteader are too much of a PITA to grow — I assume YM actually does V, Dean, and/or you actually enjoy tending to them).

 

To which I responded that indeed they are a bit of a pain in the ass to grow, by my mileage does vary:

 

I do grow my own sprouts, including broccoli sprouts. And yes, they are a bit of a pain, but I've got a pretty efficient system.

 

I happened to be tending my sprouts this morning and figured I'd take a couple pictures to share my system with others, in case they want to give it a try - or take potshots at my obsessiveness  :)xyz

 

First off, let me say I mix sprout seeds together to grow and eat them not just for nutritional diversity, but because I've found they grow better as a group, rather than in a mono-crop. Not exactly sure why, but that's what I've found in my many years of experimentation (I've been eating homegrown sprouts since ~2001).

 

The particular sprouts seeds I purchase and mix in a 50/50 blend are from Todd's Seeds (but also available on Amazon) are organic sprouting broccoli seeds, and organic broccoli and friends sprouting seeds, which is a combination of broccoli seeds, alfalfa seeds, clover and radish seeds. The reason I mix broccoli seeds together with a mix that already contains broccoli seeds is to increase the percentage of broccoli (obviously). I also grow fenugreek sprouts as well, shown in the bottom half of the trays below - fenugreek is cheap, easy to grow, and tasty.

 

Here is a picture of what my setup produces each day - a nice handful of sprouts (~50g) about 50-60% of which are broccoli sprouts:

 

wLgLymx.png

 

So here is picture of the setup where I grow them (the top have of each tray are broccoli sprouts & friends, and the bottom have of each is fenugreek:

 

Fxlgeer.png

 

It is hard to tell, but the seven separate trays you see are all contained within a larger plastic storage container, purchased at Walmart, usually used to store stuff under a bed. It is about 3 feet long, 15" wide, and 10" tall. I also purchased the trays at Walmart. They are designed to hold silverware in kitchen drawers. I drill small holes along both short edges to allow drainage, as shown here:

 

8ZAOA7Q.png

 

I also use a small piece of mesh screen to cover the holes during the first couple days of sprouting, so the seeds don't fall through the holes.

 

So here is the routine to tend them. 

  1. Every morning before breakfast, I "harvest the sprouts by simply removing the oldest, largest sprouts from the tray on the left in the image above. I don't even rinse them - I just throw them on my salad.
  2. I think rinse and wipe out the tray they were growing in, then throw it (empty) in the microwave for 60sec to kill any bacteria that might start to grow in it.
  3. I then slide the six remaining trays to the left, and insert the empty one at the right-hand end. This is my crop rotation. :)xyz
  4. I then spritz all seven trays with a handheld water sprayer (see image below), including the empty one - so that the seeds will stick to the bottom of the tray and not bounce around.
  5. I then sprinkle about 1/2 of a tablespoon of the above seed mixture into the tray, making sure the seeds are evenly distributed. 
  6. I then spritz the new seeds again, to start the germination process.
  7. I then put the lid back on the storage container in which these seven trays are located, and put them on the wire shelving I have installed on above my sink and counter in my (basement) kitchen - aka "man cave". That way, water can drain through the hole I've drilled in the bottom of the storage container into the sink.
  8. Throughout the day, whenever I happen to be in my basement kitchen, I spritz all seven trays. I probably do this about 3-4 times a day. Here is me spritzing the sprouts:

tRHqTjG.png

 

 

I estimate the total time spent on these sprouting activities is about 5-10 minutes per day. Michael et al, you might consider that a lot of time to devote to procuring such a small amount of food. But I like the benefits of broccoli sprouts and I like being able to grow at least some of my own food, even in the middle of a Pennsylvania winter.

 

And if you think I'm obsessive about sprouting now, you should check out my sprouter system circa 2003! [Note: the note at the beginning about me not sprouting anymore is now also woefully out of date. I restarted my sprouting operations using my current technique around 2009, if I remember correctly).

 

Questions or comments happily answered.

 

--Dean

 

Broccoli Sprout References from NutritionFacts.org video:

J D Clarke, A Hsu, K Riedl, D Bella, S J Schwartz, J F Stevens, E Ho. Bioavailability and inter-conversion of sulforaphane and erucin in human subjects consuming broccoli sprouts or broccoli supplement in a cross-over study design. Pharmacol Res 2011 64(5):456 – 463.

Y I Yashin, B V Nemzer, V Y Ryzhnev, A Y Yashin, N I Chernousova, P A Fedina. Creation of a databank for content of antioxidants in food products by an amperometric method. Molecules 2010 15(10):7450 – 7466.

Y Gu, Q Guo, L Zhang, Z Chen, Y Han, Z Gu. Physiological and biochemical metabolism of germinating broccoli seeds and sprouts. J Agric Food Chem 2012 60(1):209 – 213.

Y Li, T Zhang. Targeting cancer stem cells with sulforaphane, a dietary component from broccoli and broccoli sprouts. Future Oncol 2013 9(8):1097 – 1103.

Z Bahadoran, P Mirmiran, F Hosseinpanah, M Hedayati, S Hosseinpour-Niazi, F Azizi. Broccoli sprouts reduce oxidative stress in type 2 diabetes: A randomized double-blind clinical trial. Eur J Clin Nutr 2011 65(8):972 – 977.

P Mirmiran. Effects of broccoli sprout with high sulforaphane concentration on inflammatory markers in type 2 diabetic patients: A randomized double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trial. J Funct Foods 2012 4:837 – 841.

Z Bahadoran, M Tohidi, P Nazeri, M Mehran, F Azizi, P Mirmiran. Effect of broccoli sprouts on insulin resistance in type 2 diabetic patients: A randomized double-blind clinical trial. Int J Food Sci Nutr 2012 63(7):767 – 771.

Z Bahadoran, P Mirmiran, F Azizi. Potential efficacy of broccoli sprouts as a unique supplement for management of type 2 diabetes and its complications. J Med Food 2013 16(5):375 – 382.

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The last few years I've been using the Easy Sprouter

 

http://www.amazon.com/Frontier-Natural-Products-Sproutamo-Sprouter/dp/B000EJ11X2

 

first with cruciferous seeds and grains and more lately with lentils. Lentil sprouts fill out my legume allotment and require little work; a rinse, a 12 hour soak, another rinse and then let them dry out a day or two to finish. I mix up the small French green ones with the even smaller black (these are hard to find) Beluga lentils.

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I've also grown a variety of sprouts over the years including mung beans, fenugreek, broccoli, lentils and wheatgrass, using a bioSnacky unit:

 

http://www.superdiscountsupplements.com.au/a.vogel-biosnacky-mini-greenhouse-sprouter/?gclid=CMnd56mzkcoCFVYGvAodZBIDJg

 

However I found it difficult to locate nutritional breakdowns for most specific types of sprouts.

 

Do you have sources for nutritional data for the sprouts you grow and do you factor them in to your daily nutrition counts?

 

Or are they so low in calories that you can basically eat them for free?

Edited by brendanhill

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Brendan,

 

Here is the best list of sprout health data I've found. But nutrition data is sparse. As you know, I don't really count calories per se, and I get plenty of any of the typical nutrients that would be included in a list of generalized nutrition data for sprouts. IMO they should be counted as virtually zero calories.

 

--Dean

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If you are concerned about sterile sprouts, if you grabbed them with a pair of 'scissor' salad tongs and submerged them in boiling water (possibly water to be used for tea?  Never tried it, not sure if it would affect the taste) for five seconds it would kill any microbes stone dead. 

 

Rodney.

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Rodey, 

If you are concerned about sterile sprouts, if you grabbed them with a pair of 'scissor' salad tongs and submerged them in boiling water (possibly water to be used for tea?  Never tried it, not sure if it would affect the taste) for five seconds it would kill any microbes stone dead.

 

hmm... The CDC says it takes at least a minute to kill either E. Coli or Salmonella in boiling water. Or 3 minutes at altitudes greater than 6500 ft.

 

Like that other 5 second rule, this one appears to be wishful thinking upon closer inspection.  :)xyz

 

As mentioned, I sterilize my growing trays for 1 minute in the microwave on high after each day's harvest to kill pathogens like E. Coli and Salmonella that they may be harboring. I also sometimes cut off the bottom of the roots of my sprouts, if they've gotten too moist and don't appear as fresh as I'd like.

 

--Dean

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Rodey, 

If you are concerned about sterile sprouts, if you grabbed them with a pair of 'scissor' salad tongs and submerged them in boiling water (possibly water to be used for tea?  Never tried it, not sure if it would affect the taste) for five seconds it would kill any microbes stone dead.

 

hmm... The CDC says it takes at least a minute to kill either E. Coli or Salmonella in boiling water. Or 3 minutes at altitudes greater than 6500 ft.

 

Like that other 5 second rule, this one appears to be wishful thinking upon closer inspection.  :)xyz

 

As mentioned, I sterilize my growing trays for 1 minute in the microwave on high after each day's harvest to kill pathogens like E. Coli and Salmonella that they may be harboring. I also sometimes cut off the bottom of the roots of my sprouts, if they've gotten too moist and don't appear as fresh as I'd like.

 

--Dean

 

Where would the salmonella or e-coli come from?  Improperly washed hands?  Flies?  Blown in on the air?  I'm curious how to understand creating the situations where it becomes present, and unclear how to really know these sorts of treatments can work if one doesn't understand where it comes from in the first place.

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Rodney wrote:

Where would the salmonella or e-coli come from?  Improperly washed hands?  Flies?  Blown in on the air?  I'm curious how to understand creating the situations where it becomes present, and unclear how to really know these sorts of treatments can work if one doesn't understand where it comes from in the first place.

 

I'm not sure where pathogens could come from, and I haven't said they are an issue for homegrown sprouts, although I can imagine any of those vectors, and more being potential sources.

 

In the many years I've been growing them, I've never had a problem (i.e. symptoms of food poisoning). But I have heard there have been cases where the seeds themselves have been contaminated, although I don't think those seeds were from reputable seed sources.

 

I sterilize my sprouting equipment simply for an added level of safety. 

 

My comment in response to your recommendation was simply meant to point out that if one is concerned about pathogens in sprouts, either store-bought or homegrown, one probably needs to take steps beyond dipping them in boiling water for only 5 seconds to be certain of their safety.

 

--Dean

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I'm not sure where pathogens could come from, and I haven't said they are an issue for homegrown sprouts, although I can imagine any of those vectors, and more being potential sources.

 

In the many years I've been growing them, I've never had a problem (i.e. symptoms of food poisoning). But I have heard there have been cases where the seeds themselves have been contaminated, although I don't think those seeds were from reputable seed sources.

 

 

--Dean

 

I use a small amount of 3% food grade hydrogen peroxide in the soak water for seeds (not lentils as they absorb it) which kills any pathogens and may even aid with the sprouting process. Some sources suggest heating the peroxide too but that would be er, overkill I think. I've never had a food poisoning event either.

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Thanks Martin,

 

I'm going to try adding food grade H2O2 to my sprout misting water as well. How much of the 3% hydrogen peroxide do you use?

 

--Dean

I use about 60ml for each Easy Sprouter which takes 40g of seed in around 3/4 of a liter of water. You might be able to get away with less but it's cheap enough. Obviously throw away the soak water afterward.

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I'm hoping to revive this thread, as I'm planning on setting up a broccoli sprouting routine at home :)

 

I understand it'll be more work than the kefir making (that I have been doing the past several years), but I figure if I get the routine down, I should be good to go.

 

So far, I've bought from Amazon, the Sproutamo Easy Sprout Sprouter, a pound of Todd's Seeds Sprouting Broccoli Seeds, and some produce storage bags. They should arrive in about a week.

 

I figure the first few weeks is going to be trial and error. But I am curious as to a few things that I can't find immediate answers to looking around the web.

 

I'm hoping to get about a cup a day (to be split into 1/2 cup for me, and 1/2 cup for my wife) - what quanitatively do I need to do to get that amount every day? 

 

How many tablespoons of seeds per sprouting session?

 

I bought just one of the Sproutamo Easy Sprout Sprouter - should I buy more to assure one cup's worth of harvest per day?

 

How long would a pound of broccoli seeds last me if I want to get a cup of sprouts a day?

Thank you for your answers - and any other tips you might give me, as I have never sprouted anything before, and my resources are basically google and youtube. 

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Tom,

 

I'm not sprouting anymore, but from my past experience, broccoli sprouts are pretty finicky. I wouldn't recommend starting with them, and I always sprouted them in a mix with other seed types. I mixed my own combination, but an alternative you might try is Broccoli & Friends.

 

Your mileage may vary.

 

--Dean

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I haven't done much sprouting before but after reading this I'm going to give it a try too. Dean, why did you stop? Too much of a pain?

The reviews for broccoli and friends were good, and I liked the reviews on the victorio:

http://a.co/cNlyoWb

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Gordo wrote:

Dean, why did you stop? Too much of a pain?

 

Gordo,

 

I consider almost all health/life extension effort to be dubious, futile and above all, a selfish waste of time, given what is happening in the world right now.

 

That includes sprouting.

 

--Dean

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Thank you, Dean, I'll look at Broccoli & Friends should I run into difficulties. As to it being a waste of time - I don't see how us croaking early is helping anything, or how croaking early is a sign of not being selfish. But maybe I'm not sophisticated enough, or my selfishness blinds me to the obvious. Hopefully I can chew gum and walk at the same time, be both socially responsible/involved and take personal responsibility for my own health (instead of fobbing it off on overworked doctors and strained hospitals), but maybe I'm just flattering myself. YMMV.

Edited by TomBAvoider

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I've been sprouting using wide mouth quart mason jars with these lids,

https://www.amazon.com/Sprout-Ease-Econo-Sprouter-Toppers-Set-Piece/dp/B005P0SM8W/

 

I made an incubator out of a 5 gallon bucket with a cheap thermostat from ebay operating a heating pad to hold 72 F - we keep the house much colder in winter and it goes in the basement which stays cooler in the summer. The heater is at the bottom and the jars sit on a homemade shelf above the heater. I put 2 tablespoons of seed in a jar with a regular lid to soak for a day, then put the finest mesh lid on to rinse and drain. Each day they get a rinse & drain upside down for a few minutes and then switched to the next coarser lid and on the final day the jar sits on our kitchen window sill to green up the sprouts. In 4 days I have about 1 pint of sprouts. I've never done anything to sterilize, just use clean jars and clean water. Good drainage is the key to good sprouts. The bucket nicely holds 4 jars, 3 of sprouts in various stages and one of kefir which also does well at a consistent 72 F. The coarsest lid works well to pour off kefir and retain the kefir grains.

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I hear Sthira's blunt yet gentle poetry in my mind's eye ( or ear I should say) as I suggest:

 

Maybe taking care of our health is the most selfLESS thing we can do - so we can be there for and physically able to help our loved ones, the community, and be around to fight the good fight to make the word a better place while we can for this brief precious gift called Life.

Edited by Mechanism

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So is the new Dean eating donuts, cheese steaks, and 40oz malt liquor?  ;)

 

I hear ya man, too much focus on this stuff can drive you crazy and/or really waste a lot of your time.  I have to be careful of that myself.  Heading for surgery next week where statistically I have about a 1 in 100 chance of death has given me some perspective lately (thinking about what is really important to me and what I'd like to accomplish with the rest of my life, and how to make the most of my time)...  If you don't hear from me again, you'll know things didn't go well.

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the beauty of reminders of mortality is how precious every moment is. The finite and final can provide perspective, focus, and drive, and embue meaning and urgency into the formerly mundane or routine passages of our life journey. I have crossed the path of many over the years whose brush with death has been the most uplifting and transformative part of their life. "The force"' is strong with you Gordo - Good luck and wishes for your surgery, and a comfortable quick recovery.

Edited by Mechanism

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Odds of death 1/100 for a minor surgery like that? Seems inflated to me. On top of that, an healthy individual should have decreased probability of death than general population, including teh elders.

 

Gordo, I believe your individual probability of death is far smaller than 1/100, just related to some very unlikely and unforeseeable occurrance.

Were I the surgeon, wouldn't like at all to be investigated for manslaughter.

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Gordo,

 

Good luck with your surgery and a speedy recovery!

 

I know you'll make it through fine - since I'll be seeing you in Costa Rica with your lovely wife. You've got to make the trip, since you and I are the only actual CR Society members left on it!

 

Gordo wrote:

...thinking about what is really important to me and what I'd like to accomplish with the rest of my life, and how to make the most of my time...

 

I too have been doing a lot of soul searching lately. I just got back from a week-long trip to NH to help take care of my 80 year-old bachelor uncle. He lived alone in an apartment above a garage. He's always been fiercely independent and has taken good care of himself; much better than my own mom and dad, who both died in the last decade at 75 and 69, respectively. But three weeks ago he clumsily fell down the last two steps leading to his apartment and tore the tendon holding his right kneecap in place. 

 

Since then he's had two surgeries trying to fix it. After the second surgery they told him he's got to keep it completely immobile for 6 weeks for it to heal. It's unclear he's going to be able to walk again, to say nothing of live independently again. He has been in and out of several rehab facilities and skilled nursing homes in the last three weeks. When I was up there he was in a nursing home in a double room with a 93 year old man in a similar situation; he'd been independent up until about a month ago when health problems hit and was quickly deteriorating, both physically and mentally. His family couldn't even understand his slurred speech in response to a nurse asking whether or not to classify him as "Do Not Resuscitate."

 

Not a pretty picture and not the way I want to go - clinging to a pitiable life with little hope of improvement and more likely to be a burden than a benefit to one's family and society. I used to be optimistic that Aubrey, Michael and friends might succeed and help us all avoid such sad endings. Now it seems likely that radical life extension isn't going to happen in time, at least for most of us. Even it it does, it seems doubtful there will be a world left in which it's worth living forever; we seem hell-bent on ruining the world through widespread fear, selfishness, greed and plain old short-sightedness.

 

I'm taken by this passage from philosopher Robert Nozick's book The Examined Life (pg. 27):

 

I understand the urge to cling to life until the very end, yet I find another course more appealing. After an ample life, a person who still possesses energy, acuity, and decisiveness might choose to seriously risk his life or lay it down for another person or for some noble and decent cause. Not that this should be done lightly or too soon, but some time before the natural end - current health levels might suggest an age between seventy and seventy-five - a person might direct his or her mind and energy towards helping others in a more dramatic and risky fashion than younger, more prudent folks venture. These activities might involve great health risks in order to serve the sick, risk of physical harm in interposing oneself between oppressors and their victims - I have in mind the kind of peaceful activities and nonviolent resistance that Gandhi and Martin Luther King engaged in, not a vigilante pursuit of wrongdoers - or in aiding people within violence-ridden areas.

 

Utilizing the freedom of action that is gained by the willingness to run serious risks, people's ingenuity will devise new modes and patterns of effective action which others can emulate, individually or jointly. Such a path will not be for everyone, but some might seriously weight spending their penultimate years in a brave and noble endeavor to benefit others, an adventure to advance the cause of truth, goodness, beauty, or holiness - not going gently into that good night or raging against the dying of the light but, near the end, shining their light most brightly.

 

In short, Nozick advocated going out with a bang in the service to others or a worthy cause.

 

In that passage, Nozick suggests age 70-75 as the appropriate point to start aiming to make a noble sacrifice, given "current health levels." Nozick wrote the book in 1989 at age 51 - a year younger than I am.

 

Nozick died quietly a little over a decade later at age 63 after a prolonged battle with stomach cancer. 

 

Your mileage may vary. Literally.

 

--Dean

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