Broccoli sprouts have been getting a lot of buzz lately. You may have even heard the term “super food” used to describe them. While I’m not one to latch onto this label, you’ll soon learn why broccoli sprouts may be a food that actually deserves it. In this post I’m going to shed some light on these powerful little plants and show you how to sprout your own at home. It’s super easy, I promise, so no worries if you don’t have a green thumb.
Benefits of Broccoli Sprouts
You might be wondering why everyone seems to be talking about broccoli sprouts. I can sum it up for you in one word… Sulforaphane.
What is sulforaphane? I’m glad you asked. 😉 Sulforaphane is a potent phytochemical (just a fancy word that refers to natural plant compounds) found in cruciferous vegetables. You’ll find it in things like broccoli, kale, cabbage, cauliflower and more.
Now, plants have lots of beneficial phytochemicals, but sulforaphane is one that stands out from the crowd. This is because it offers some pretty awesome health benefits. It works as a powerful antioxidant, fighting free radicals and inflammation in the body. But it’s the potent anti-cancer properties of sulforaphane that elevate it to rock star status. At least in the plant world.
You see, sulforaphane doesn’t just help moderate cancer cells. Nope, it kicks some serious cancer cell butt. It helps to detoxify carcinogens, impedes blood flow to cancer cells (which they need to grow), inhibits their spread and helps those cancer cells trigger the self-destruct button. Is there anything this stuff can’t do?
Why Broccoli Sprouts?
If sulforaphane is found in cruciferous vegetables, why do broccoli sprouts get so much buzz? Well, it comes down to a concentration game. While mature broccoli will indeed provide sulforaphane, broccoli sprouts can potentially produce up to 100 times more than the fully grown variety.
Pretty amazing, right? This actually makes it even easier to get your daily dose of sulforaphane, because you can add broccoli sprouts to almost anything.
Need some ideas for how to eat them?
- Throw some in your smoothie
- Top your bean burger with them
- Add them to a nourish bowl, or salad
- They work great on sandwiches or in wraps
- Sprinkle them on your tacos or fajitas
I could go on, but you get the picture. Broccoli sprouts pack a big healthy punch in a tiny little body.
How to Grow Broccoli Sprouts
As promised, broccoli sprouts are pretty easy to grow. With some sprouting seeds and a few simple items, you can go from seed to sprout in about 5 days, with very minimal effort.
What you’ll need:
A glass jar – A quart size mason jar or bigger works best
Sprouting seeds – Organic is ideal, just make sure they are sprouting seeds. Seeds meant for planting will be much more expensive.
A lid meant for sprouting – Or cheesecloth and an elastic band. This allows for airflow and rinsing of the spouts throughout the process.
A large bowl or container – To prop up the jar. You can also get a special tilted rack for this purpose if you prefer.
Nothing too crazy, right? Let’s get to it.
Growing Broccoli Sprouts
Step 1: Add the desired amount of sprouting seeds to a clean mason jar. Start with a couple of tablespoons if you’re not sure how quickly you’ll be able to eat them.
Step 2: Next, cover the seeds in a few inches of water and screw on the sprouting lid, or attach the cheesecloth with an elastic. Then move the jar to a cool dark place (a cupboard or pantry works well) and let those babies soak overnight.
Step 3: The next morning, tip the jar over the sink to drain all of the soaking water. The sprouting lid or cheesecloth will let the water out while keeping the seeds in the jar.
Step 4: Now add some fresh water to the jar and give the seeds a little swish. Then drain the remaining water and store the jar. You’ll want to store it lid side down with a slight tilt to help any remaining water drip out. They sell tilted racks for this purpose, but resting the bottom of your jar on the edge of a bowl or container works just as well. Back into the cool dark place it goes.
Step 5: For the next 3-5 days, repeat the rinsing step described above. Do this 2-3 times a day for best results. A good way to remember is to rinse your sprouts at mealtime.
Add Some Light
After a few days, you’ll notice the seeds begin to sprout. Once they are an inch or two long, move the jar to your countertop or somewhere with indirect sunlight. This will help the sprouts green up a bit. They should be ready to eat by about day 5.
Once you’re satisfied with the size and colour of your sprouts, give them one last rinse and then store them in the fridge in an airtight container. Line the container with a kitchen towel or some paper towel to absorb extra moisture. This will help to keep them fresh longer. They should last 5 days to a week in the fridge. When in doubt, use the sniff test. If they smell sour, don’t eat them.
What’s That Fuzz?
You may notice what looks like a white fuzz beginning to develop on your growing broccoli sprouts, especially if you’ve missed a rinse or two. If you do, don’t panic. When your sprouts get dry, they shoot out these tiny hairs or rootlets, in search of moisture. A good rinse should fix this right up.
That being said, if you notice green or black fuzz, that’s probably mold. In this case, it’s best to toss the batch, wash the jar and lid and start again.
Taking It up a Notch
Now I’ve already mentioned that broccoli sprouts contain more sulforaphane than mature broccoli, by a pretty significant margin. The cool thing is, you can actually increase the sulforaphane content even further. That’s right, a study from 2004 found that you could increase the potential sulforaphane content by about 3.5 times, just by adding a little heat.
If you’re keen to maximize your intake, you can soak your grown sprouts in 70° Celsius water for about 10 minutes. You’ll want to be careful here, if the water is much hotter than that you’ll end up killing off the enzyme (myrosinase) that actually turns the precursor (glucoraphanin) into sulforaphane when the sprouts are blended, chopped or chewed.
Once the 10 minutes is up, drain, and store your super powered sprouts in the fridge as described above.
Now that you know how to get your daily sulforaphane fix, how are you going to use your sprouts? Share your ideas in the comment section below.