Wake up your Seeds!
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Dry seeds are dormant.
Soaking a seed ends it's dormancy and begins a new life.
In nature this seed will make a plant which can, in turn make seeds, which can in turn make more plants, which can make More Seeds which make More plants and more and More and MORE!
We eat all this potential. Its no wonder sprouts are SO nutritious!
Different seeds soak up different amounts of water.
Mix 2-3 parts water to 1 part seed.
The seeds are going to absorb a lot of water while soaking. All that matters is that we provide enough of it. As a rule 2-3 TIMES AS MUCH water (as seeds) is enough, but you can not use too much - the seeds will only absorb what they can regardless of what they have access too. But don't short them or they won't sprout well.
You can not use too much water, but you can soak for too long. Read the seed information pages for the seeds you are sprouting.
Mix your Seeds up:
With small seeds in particular, it is important to mix up your seeds to assure even water contact. We use our hands or a nice wooden spoon or something - to stir the seeds around, or, if we're using an Easy Sprout we will repeatedly twirl and plunge the Growing Vessel into the partially full of water Solid Base.
Seeds like Alfalfa, Clover and Broccoli can be covered with water but still fail to soak any up - in the same way that a spoon full of Nestle's Quick plunged into a glass of milk will remain dry. If you Prep your Seeds before Soaking you will likely not suffer the "Nestle's Quick syndrome" since your seeds will already be thoroughly wet.
How Long is Long Enough?
A few seeds do not Soak at all and though most do, they Soak for varying duration's. The norm is 8-12 hours, but some soak for only 20 minutes, some occasionally soak in warm or hot water and for more or less time - Check the seed information pages for the seeds you are sprouting.
After your Soak is over:
Skim off any non-seeds that are floating on the water*.
Run your finger tips over any floating seeds to see if they will sink.
Skim or pour off any seeds or non-seeds remaining afloat.
Proceed to the next step: Rinsing
Tricks & Trouble
Don't even read this until you have a sense of how sprouts work. And a tolerance for my rambling! This section may be edited in some distant future =:-}
There are some tricks you can use - like soaking in hot water, to shorten the time of the soak or to make seeds - which aren't soaking up water well - soak it up. Warm water can shorten the time it takes for a seed to finish Soaking. A warm spot in the house can speed up your crop while a cold spot can slow it down. You can Green sprouts outside in freezing weather if you make a tiny portable greenhouse.......... There are a whole lot of ways to make trouble for you and your crop. We will discuss a couple now and will improve this area as time permits. Really - you should just stop reading this page NOW.
Hot water can cook seeds if used incorrectly or it can make a "hard seed" sprout by convincing it to soak up water. If you are curious about these tricks read on.
We stock over 80 varieties of sprouting seeds all the time. Every year we test crops from multiple farmers and seed dealers to find the seeds that sprout best, taste best and store best. But there are some crop years when it is impossible to find the quality we are looking for in a given seed. Fortunately since our seeds come from all over the Planet it is usually just a problem with a few seeds a year. Certain seeds are more prone to difficulties than others but even the most easily grown crops can suffer. It really boils down to weather and farm location and as we all know, every year is different everywhere. We have found, over the years, that the crops that tend to have idiosyncrasies most often are: Adzuki Beans, Mung Beans, and Broccoli. So we'll use them as examples of how to use Soaking to make them better than they want to be.
In the case of Adzukis, Mungs and sometimes, though less frequently Broccoli; there is many a lot that has hard seed. We deal with that by using warmer water. The worst case we ever had was Adzukis back in 1995. Those seeds were so difficult that we would soak them with an initial water temperature of 120° (the water cools as time passes) in an effort to convince the beans to take up water. It worked. That same year we had Mungs that started at 100°! Maybe the year we had to soak our Adzukis for 36 hours (changing the water every 12 hours of course) was the worst...... Luckily we haven't had any seed so demanding in several years. Our last hard seed problem was with our 1998 Broccoli crop which required an initial temperature of 100° but which couldn't soak for more than 1 1/2 hours. If we soaked longer the seed would fail to produce edible sprouts. Hard seed is really only serious in the case of Beans. A hard Bean is as hard as a rock and can break a tooth if you're unlucky. When the hard seed is a small seed like Broccoli the problem is simpler - you aren't likely to break a tooth - the crop is just low yielding. Still even that is unacceptable. Though all of our seeds are currently (September, 2001) without any problems, we are always careful - especially with Mungs and Adzukis.
Both Beans are slower to take up water than other Beans so we make sure that all are soft before we terminate the soak. Here is what we say on our Adzuki page:
Adzuki Beans will pale somewhat as they swell with water. Before you end your soak, check them: If you see that on some of your beans, part of the bean (one end usually) is still as dark as it was before soaking, they need a little more time to soak - to make sure they have taken up all the water they need.
For that reason we generally soak Adzukis for 12 hours.
Adzukis also tend to have more hard seed than other seed types. If you buy your seed from us this is not a concern, but if you buy Adzuki or other seeds elsewhere be sure to examine them after soaking to make sure there are no hard seeds (seeds that are as hard after soaking as before) lurking at the bottom. If there are - throw those (the hard ones) out! They are easy to spot as they are smaller and darker red than those that are swollen with water.
There are some times when we just need to rush things a bit. We will use warmer water and decrease the Soak's duration. As previously mentioned this is risky. As an example, if you soak Lentils in 100° water (initial temperature) they will be done soaking in just a couple hours - or they may have partially cooked by then. The rule of thumb is that if you use warm water - and even more so when you use hot water - you need to physically touch your seeds to see when they have softened. It would be wise to try warm/hot soaks only after you have enough experience to know what a correctly soaked seed feels like.
The Basics of Sprouting:
* As a rule, real sprouting seeds have gone through an amazingly complete cleaning process and rarely will you find anything other than high germinating seeds, but despite the best efforts of cleaning screens, gravity tables and the rest; non-seeds and similarly sized weed seeds can get through - they just feel and weigh too much the same as the seed being cleaned to be recognized by the equipment.
Sprouting seeds should vary from other seeds in several ways. They should have a high germination rate. They should have been cleaned beyond the level of seeds not sold to the sprout industry. They should have been tested for pathogens. These are all true in the case of the seed we sell. It is not likely so with seeds and beans you buy off the shelf at a store. Those seeds are often intended for cooking and need not be subjected to the additional processes and expense! That is why we tell people to buy seed from a source they trust. Do not be stopped from sprouting if your store bought seeds don't sprout! Lentils sold for soup may have been stored poorly for a long time - if you are cooking them it hardly matters. They may sprout just fine, but if they don't, then buy some that you know are fresh and clean and intended for sprouting! Buy from someone who is selling SPROUTING SEED! Someone you Trust!
All of the seed we sell has been tested by our suppliers and is certified free of pathogens.
Nowadays the conventional (non-organic) sprout industry demands that all seeds not only be washed but also soaked in a toxic bleach solution (equivalent to 1 part household bleach + 1 part water) to make seeds safe. As you probably know, if you're this far into our site, we have quite a different opinion. It is - in our opinion - not worth eating sprouts if you feel the need to bleach them. Bleach kills the good bacteria which we are, as mammals, dependent on, bleach is a dioxin which does not break down in nature and so pollutes the planet and if that isn't enough - it is a known carcinogen.
Go look at our information on sprout safety if you have any questions.
We will always tell you if the seed we sell requires any unusual treatment - like a warm or hot Soak. You should always follow the instructions of the people who you get your seed from - they should know if anything special is necessary to get the seeds to sprout well. Despite the best of intentions, many Sprouting Device manufacturers offer instructions which can spoil your crop. They may know their Sprouters but they don't know the seed you get from us! So - ALWAYS FOLLOW OUR DIRECTIONS unless you know better!
170 Mendell St.
San Francisco, CA 94124
We only use the phone for emergencies.
Back in 2001 we were still using the phone. One day I was talking to a long-time customer while pushing my (then 4 year old) daughter on the swing in our backyard (this is what a mom n' pop business is like on the internet). It dawned on me that my priorities were severely messed up, so I stopped using the phone. I love to talk and I love to help, but my family would never see me if I picked up the phone again, and that's just wrong don't you think?!
The very best way to contact us is through E-mail =:-)
We are quite fast and VERY thorough. We love to help.
We have been an internet only business since 2001. We are not a big corporation. We are but 2 people, Mom n' Pop Sprout. We decided after years of juggling our family's (kids, dogs, cats and even our own) needs, and the needs of Sproutpeople, that we had to make more time for our kids, so we stopped talking on the phone. All calls go to voice mail and have since 2001.
We are very fast to fill orders and answer e-mail, and though we wish we could make the time to talk, we just can't seem to get more minutes into a each hour. We are many years older than when we started and our days are too short and made up of too few hours to do everything. This limitation in our business has not kept us from pleasing our customers, nor from growing (as we have every year since 1993). We do what we do as well as we can, and we think we do it very well indeed.
We appreciate your patronage more than we can say. We ask that you use the phone for emergencies only and that you search our site for answers before e-mailing us. This site is bigger than any 4 sprout books put together, it is always available and it is free, and we know that almost all questions are answered here.
Thanks again for your support and your many kind words.