How to Sprout Sunflower Seeds

by Sunny Rivers

I grow a batch of sunflower sprouts everyday, and in the beginning, I had a variety of challenges experienced by most people who are new to sprouting.  So I decided to just experiment, and here are my findings. 

While most sprouts are very hardy, they have a fragile balance with outside elements. First and foremost, temperature.  What you can do in the winter doesn't work in the summer. Because the germinating process builds a tremendous heat internally, sprouts need more rinsing and aeration in hotter weather.  (Not so much to water them, but to cool them down so they don't spoil.) That is why people say to get rid of the sunflower hulls.  (They are the first to spoil, because they are not part of the growing seed.)

I personally got frustrated trying to hull, I found no easy way to do this.  So here is what I do, both summer and winter.  Before going to bed, set seeds to soak.  In the morning, pour off soak water, and rinse thoroughly.  If there are a lot of obviously loose hulls, put sprouts in a big bowl well covered with  water, and skim out the hulls that are easy to reach.  I find it totally unnecessary to chase down all the hulls. Next step is most important.  Empty bowl into a large strainer (colander, veggie spinner, anything that has small holes works great) Allow to thoroughly drain for about 10 minutes (you might want to toss the sprouts once or twice to aerate.  At this point, they are ready to eat, or be stored in the refrigerator.  Many people make the mistake to trying to sprout sunflower seeds too long before refrigerating. 

You have two choices for refrigeration.  Stored sunflower seeds will turn a motley brown color.  They are not spoiled when they are discolored. They have just oxidized.  (If you don't mind the color, you can leave in the refrigerator one more day to fully develop little tails.  If you want the color fresh, then eat them within about 6 hours.

There are two methods for storing in the refrigerator.  The first is to put the very well drained sunnies into the rinsed and dried canning jar they were soaked in, and simply put the canning lid on.  The other method is to store them in the canning jar filled with fresh water (to prevent oxidation).  With either method, the sprouts continue to grow in the fridge. Canning jars provide a more airtight container than other storage units, and help prevent oxidation.

When you use this method, they are so easy to grow, you can do a fresh batch everyday.  I believe most people have problems sprouting, because they try to grow them too long outside the fridge, without enough rinsing, and thorough draining.  Sprouts do not like too much water.

A sideline thought - I personally like to use canning jars with those little screw on sprouting lids (If you do not have  the lids, a plastic spaghetti strainer works really well) to soak and rinse for small batches, but when I make a big batch, I use any appropriate size bowl, and simply rinse in a strainer or colander.  When I make small batches in jars, it is usually unnecessary to hull in a bowl.  I just let drain well, and then cap and refrigerate.

So, to reiterate with this method, you are basically soaking the seeds overnight, rinsing and draining thoroughly, and then refrigerating. (Allowing any remaining sprouting to be done in cold conditions, so it becomes unnecessary to thoroughly hull.

Lastly, sprouted sunnies contain a complete array of the necessary amino acids, so they are a complete protein.  Plus they contain the very healthy omega 3 oil.  They are wonderful to eat by themselves, add to salads, or grind up with veggies to make veggie burgers.  If you own a dehydrator, after soaking overnight, soak seeds in either Braggs Liquid Aminos (Note from Chet: We recommend using sea salt. Because of MSG issues, we do not consider Bragg's Liquid Aminos to be a healthy seasoning), soy sauce, or water seasoned with any mix of your favorite spice blends for 1/2 hour. Thoroughly drain, and then dehydrate at the lowest setting until crunchy.  And if you own a dehydrator, you can eat the veggie burgers fresh, with a sauce, or dehydrate them to varying degrees.  When I travel, I dehydrate till thoroughly dry, and they do not need refrigeration.  I make an instant sandwich, wrapping in lettuce, and adding tomato, avocado, green sprouts, onion, or whatever I have at hand.

I have grown to love sprouting and eating sprouts.  They are truly living foods, that are partially "predigested", and the more you eat, the more "health benefits" you notice, because they are so full of living enzymes and other nutritional values. (Sprouts are also the cheapest way to eat both organic and living food)


Sunny Rivers

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