Margrethe Warden

While not the “miracle” food they are often touted as, sprouted seeds and beans can be a beneficial part of any bird’s diet. Sprouting does alter the nutritional make up. The germination process can increase the vitamin and amino acid content of the seed or bean and it can also decrease the mineral, fat, and protein content. 

People are often reluctant to attempt sprouting seeds and beans on their own because they believe it to be a complicated process. In fact, it is really quite simple. The thing about sprouts is you soak them 12-24 hours, using a stabilizer (bleach or grapefruit seed extract), drain them, and wait. If you use bleach you will need to rinse them every couple of hours until they've sprouted. I got started in sprouting through China Prairie using one-quart canning jars with lids and the grapefruit seed extract (GSE). The advantage of GSE is that you don't have to rinse the seeds once they've soaked & been drained. You can go to the China Prairie site and order their starter kit for $75. It includes several pounds of human grade seed for sprouting, three jars and lids, a tower for draining the jars, the GSE and a spirulina supplement that makes the whole thing smell very good. 

 You can do it yourself piecemeal if you'd like. Get some wide mouth canning jars and you can use cheesecloth purchased from the supermarket, secured over the lid with a rubber band. You can buy GSE from most health food stores or on the Internet from Nutriteam. If you order online, I recommend getting the 4 oz. size. Add about ten or twelve drops (I cc) per quart jar.

 If you don't like draining through cheesecloth, you can get lids to fit wide mouth canning jars from The Sprout People . You can get jars in the 2 quart size too but that's a LOT of sprouts. They also sell seeds for sprouting but they're expensive.

 For seeds you can order the 5# bags from China Prairie alone or you can gather up your own seeds & grains. I do buy some human grade seed and beans for sprouting from SunOrganic Farm. Keep in mind you will pay for shipping but their prices aren't bad. . Whole lentils from the local grocery story will sprout just fine. I also buy bulk mung beans as well as wheat berries and rye from my local Whole Foods.  You will want to include mung beans, adzuki beans, lentils, whole peas, hulled sunflower seeds, hulled pumpkin seeds, millet, radish seeds, hulled oats, wheat berries. Also, Arrowhead Mills organic popping corn sprouts – that is the only brand of dried corn I've gotten to sprout.

 OK, now you're ready to actually start the sprouting process. Get your jar and fill it not quite half full with the dried beans.  Fill it the rest of the way with water. Add the GSE, 1 cc per quart. If you get it from Nutriteam you will use 11 to 15 drops per quart. Soak for 12-24 hours. I usually start them soaking first thing in the morning and drain them just before I go to bed. Drain all the water out, rinse if you wish and set the jar, tilted, with the opening down (so it can continue to drain but get air) in a dry place out of direct sunlight. I use the sink in a half bath and leave them in the dark. 24-36 hours later they are food. The little sprout tails should be very short - 1/8-1/4" long. If they get too long the nutritional value diminishes. The sprouts will keep several days in the refrigerator so if you end up with more sprouts than you have birds, you do not need to worry.   They will keep!

Margrethe Warden