The alfalfa plant is the most cultivated legume in the world at a worldwide production of over 454 million tons. It is mainly used as forage for cattle but has also been used as a medicinal herb for over 1500 years to treat disorders related to the digestive tract and kidneys. Besides that, alfalfa sprouts are also a vegetarian favourite that is usually added to salads and sandwiches to provide bite. These sprouts can also be planted organically for your own consumption.
- Alfalfa seeds can be purchased from hardware stores or feed supply stores as they are usually used as forage for cattle. However, be careful when selecting the seeds as most of the time, alfalfa seeds are often mixed with other forms of grass. For human consumption purposes, pure organic seeds are your best bet. Once you have brought the seeds home, soak the seeds over night in a glass jar that is filled at least a quarter full with room temperature water.
- Next morning, pour out all of the water but leave the seeds in the jar, preferably clinging to the sides of the jar. You can do this by rolling the jar around after all the water has been poured out. The dampness on the jar\’s inside surface and on the surface of the seeds will allow them to stick to the jar\’s side. Once this is done, leave the jar lying on its side; you don\’t have to put it upright again. It is important for the seeds not to stick together at the bottom of the jar; therefore this is the best method to provide them with enough room to start sprouting. The seeds need to have access to both water and air to be able to start sprouting. Besides that, it is also important to ensure that you do not leave your jar of soaked alfalfa seeds in a warm surrounding as this would encourage the growth of disease organisms. On the contrary, alfalfa seeds grow slower under temperatures below 80 degrees Fahrenheit.
- The sprouting alfalfa seeds in the jar will produce a bit of heat, therefore it is important to manually regulate the temperature inside the jar by rinsing the seeds with cool water at least every 24 hours to prevent heat from being trapped inside and thus, encouraging growth of disease organisms. To do so, simply run cool tap water into the jar, swirl the seeds around and then pour out all of the water. It is also important to stick your seeds back onto the sides of the jar. If you live in a country with a warm climate, you should probably consider rinsing the alfalfa seeds at least twice a day or more as much more heat would be trapped inside the jar. Rinsing the seeds will also prevent the sprouts from developing a slight funky odour that might be absorbed by your alfalfa sprouts.
- Once the jar is too small for all the seeds to stick to its side, transfer half of the half-grown sprouts into another jar and continue with the process in step 3.
- The sprouts usually take about a week to grow to full size. Once they are big enough, take them out and dry them out under the sun by spreading them out on a tray for about 15 minutes or so to activate the enzymes for photosynthesis. This will make the alfalfa sprouts\’ leaves grow greener. If there are still brown seed-coats hanging on to the sprouts, you can remove them by submerging the sprouts in water and then filtering out the hollow coats which will float to the top.
Your alfalfa sprouts are now ready to be mixed into your favourite salads and sandwiches.