Sprouting Broccoli: The Complete Guide
Broccoli comes from the Italian word broccolo which translates to the flowering crest of a cabbage. While the large flowering heads and stalks of broccoli are commonly consumed as vegetables, broccoli sprouts are starting to catch up. This guide will take you through everything that you need to know about broccoli sprouts, from their benefits to DIY sprouting and safely storing your broccoli sprouts.
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What Are Broccoli Sprouts?
Broccoli sprouts are 3 to 5-day old broccoli seeds that have begun the germination process with tiny shoots and roots already developing. The sprouting process substantially increases the concentration of nutrients in the young shoots.
What Is Sprouting?
Sprouting is among the first stages of seed germination during which the plant puts out shoots. A sprouting seed will typically have only a single stalk from which the leaves will grow. In order for a seed to sprout, it has to be mature and get exposed to the right conditions such as moisture and temperature.
Why Not Just Eat Broccoli?
The germination process increases the production of certain essential chemicals in the broccoli sprout, which are typically not found in such vast quantities in a fully grown broccoli. One of these chemicals is sulforaphane, which is well studied for its antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, and anticancer capabilities. Sulforaphane can also protect the neurons in the central nervous system, and there are ongoing studies on how it can protect against diabetes and aging.
Why Not Just Eat Broccoli Powder?
Broccoli can be spray dried and crushed into broccoli powder for long term storage. While this powder still contains the same nutritional benefit as fresh broccoli, some of the vitamins do get denatured during storage. Broccoli sprouts are a straightforward alternative to broccoli powder due to the higher nutritional value.
5 Reasons to Grow Your Own Broccoli Sprouts
1. It Is Economical
Home sprouted broccoli cost way less than store-bought sprouts. You can either opt for a broccoli sprouting kit or a DIY setup using mason jars. The only other additional cost will be from acquiring the relatively affordable broccoli seeds. Home sprouting allows you to stock up on broccoli sprouts while also saving you some cash.
2. Health Benefits
Sprouted broccoli contains sulforaphane, which can cross the blood-brain barrier. After consuming the sprouts, sulforaphane gets absorbed, and it induces enzymes responsible for protecting neurons in the brain. Studies have found that sulforaphane has a therapeutic effect on the brain. This includes improved responsiveness in autistic children, traumatic brain injury (TBI) patients, and inhibits neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease. Sources: NCBI(1), NCBI (2).
3. Maximized Nutritional Value
The sprouting process activates all of the stored nutrients in the broccoli seeds. This makes them readily available for your digestive system. The germination process also accumulates more nutrients that are necessary for the young shoot to proliferate; this translates to increased nutrient uptake when consuming broccoli sprouts.
4. Can Be Grown Indoors
The broccoli sprouting process does not require light and can, therefore, be performed indoors. The seeds only need a constant supply of necessary nutrients such as water and oxygen to germinate. As a result, broccoli sprouting can utilize limited space indoors without getting affected by the weather factor.
Broccoli sprouts and other cruciferous veggies contain sulforaphane, which has considerable antioxidant properties. The compound can cross the blood-brain barrier where it reacts with free radicals that would otherwise react with healthy cells and harm them.
Health Benefits of Sprouted Broccoli
1. Contains Calories
Carbs are the primary source of energy in the body. Sprouting broccoli contains up to 12 grams of carbs per cup. Broccoli's carbs are mainly in the form of sugars and soluble fiber.
Sprouting broccoli has higher percentages of proteins compared to most vegetables. A cup of broccoli sprouts contains around 9 grams of proteins, which goes a long way in the growth and maintenance of body cells.
Broccoli sprouts contain around 2.5 grams of fiber per cup, which accounts for about 10% of the daily value. Fiber is a critical part of a healthy diet, and its presence in meals improves gut health. Fiber also goes a long way in preventing gastrointestinal diseases while also aiding in weight loss.
Broccoli sprouts have increased amounts of vitamins such as vitamin C, which is an excellent antioxidant and improves skin health, and immune function. Vitamin K1 assists in blood clotting as well as promoting bone health. Vitamin B9, also known as folate, is required for cell function and tissue growth, especially in pregnant women.
Sprouted broccoli is rich in essential minerals such as potassium, manganese, and iron. Potassium is vital for regulating blood pressure and preventing the early onset of heart disease.
Sprouted broccoli contains numerous antioxidation compounds. These go a long way in eliminating free radicals in the body, which would otherwise result in diseases and other health complications. Some of these antioxidants include sulforaphane, indole-3-carbinol, kaempferol, and quercetin, which also lowers blood pressure.
Picking Broccoli Seeds
Picking the right broccoli seeds will determine the success of the entire batch. Most of the seeds sold in gardening catalogs are mostly meant for planting on earth. They are therefore significantly adapted to grow to maturity and produce large broccoli heads. These are more expensive and should be avoided. Instead, go for the microgreen's broccoli seeds.
Microgreens are meant to be harvested after sprouting and cost much less compared to commercial varieties. Some firms offer specially labeled organic broccoli sprouting seeds, which are perfect for growing fresh sprouts. These are also treated with fungicides to protect them from fungal infections during germination.
Home picked broccoli seeds are, however, the best choice as there's greater control in terms of quality of the seeds and chemical exposure. Mature broccoli seeds can be picked from the pods. Remove the dry pods from the plant and allow them to dry for a couple of days before crushing them in your palm to remove the seeds. Septate the broccoli seeds form the left-over chaff and store them in a cool, dry place until awaiting planting.
Factors To Consider When Selecting Broccoli Sprouting Seeds
1. Look For Raw Seeds
The best seeds to sprout should be raw and should not be chemically treated. The seeds should also not be toasted or roasted as this effectively kills the enzymes that are responsible for germination.
2. Avoid Cracked Seeds
Broccoli sprouting seeds should be whole without any noticeable physical damage or milled seeds. This ensures that the germination rate will be high.
3. Consider Buying Vacuum Sealed Seeds
Seeds that are often sold in vacuum-sealed packages have a longer shelf life while also keeping off any form of contamination.
4. Only Go For 'Sprouting" Seeds
For the best germination results, you should opt for seeds that are clearly marked as sprouting ready on the package.
Best Broccoli Seed Brands for Sprouting
Brand - Todd's Seeds
Price - $16.49
Quantity - 8oz
Overview: Broccoli sprouts are simple and easy to sprout, also they are packed with sulforaphane which has a wide array of purported health benefits.The source of the seeds is very high quality, making them safe to sprout and consume. They also have a very high sprouting success rate, and good value for money too. Making them the #1 pick for broccoli sprouting seeds.
3. Rainbow Heirloom Sprouting Broccoli Seeds
Size: 1 Lb.
Rainbow Heirloom relies on sustainably grown broccoli plants to produce their non-GMO Waltham 29 seeds. These can be quickly grown on trays, sprout jars, germination stations, and seed Sprouters for the best microgreens. The firm relies on stringent lab testing to ensure that you only get top quality seeds with a high germination rate.
Equipment Needed for Sprouting Broccoli Seeds
The type of equipment needed to sprout broccoli will depend on the specific method you are relying on. to get a better understanding of this, we will break down the specific needs as per the following sprouting methods:
1. How To Sprout Broccoli Seeds In A Mason Jar
Half gallon wide mouth mason jar
Wire sprouting lid
Sprout ready broccoli seeds (by in bulk to cut down the cost)
Fresh tap water
1. Soak around two tablespoons worth of broccoli seeds in a small bowl filled with water and set aside for 12 hours
2. Drain the slightly swollen seeds with a sieve and transfer them into the sprouting vessel in this case the half gallon wide mouth mason jar
3. Place the wire sprouting lid on the mason jar; this makes it much easier to rinse and drain the sprouting broccoli without having to remove them from the jar.
4. Keep the mason jar upside down to ensure proper drainage at all times.
5. Rinse the sprouts every 12 hours and drain the water.
6. Harvest the broccoli sprouts after 4 to 6 days
Considerations Before Buying a Broccoli Sprouting Kit
The capacity of a sprouting kit will be varying depending on its dimensions. When shopping for a sprouting kit, you should be guided by the number of sprouts you want at any given time. Most small-sized sprout kits can hold about 8 oz of broccoli sprouts. While this might not seem as much, it's important to remember that the kit can grow each batch in 4 to 6 days only.
2. Ease of Use
The right broccoli sprouting kit should be not only easy to set up but also simple to use. The increased ease of use reduces the possibility of mistakes occurring when setting up each broccoli crop. Ensure that you get a sprouting kit that's also easy to clean as this will be compulsory after each harvest or when rinsing and draining the current crop.
3. Materials Used
Your sprouting kit will be exposed to wet conditions during the sprouting process and should, therefore, be made with high-quality materials that can not be eroded. These include BPA free food-grade plastic and stainless steel. While shopping for a sprouting kit, it's recommendable to go through the entire list of materials used and ensure that none of them may pose harm to your health.
Troubleshooting Broccoli Sprouts
Why Do They Smell?
Fresh sprouting broccoli should smell just like broccoli. However, when the sprouts go too long without a rinse, they will start to stink, and the rancid as the mold begins forming. When this happens to your sprouts, the next step should be throwing out the entire batch, cleaning and sanitizing the equipment, and starting all over again.
Why Have They Gone Moldy?
The main reason why sprouts become moldy is the lack of proper drainage. The accumulated water in the sprouting container presents the perfect conditions for mold to grow. It's important to note that the fuzzy, hairy structures on the roots of the broccoli sprouts are not actual mold but tiny root hairs.
If you notice mold growing on your sprouts, the solution should be getting rid of the contaminated batch and sanitizing the equipment before setting up another batch.
How to Clean Broccoli Sprouts
What You Will Need
Cold tap water
1. Halfway fill a large bowl with cold tap water and drop in the broccoli sprouts
2. Use the clean fork to gently stir the sprouts allowing them to release the seed husks
3. Scoop out the floating husks and drain the water followed by a rinse
4. Use a colander to drain the clean broccoli sprouts before proceeding to store or cook them
How to Store Broccoli Sprouts
Fresh broccoli sprouts require cold temperature storage in order to retain their flavor and texture for up to 6 weeks when stored in the refrigerator. Freezing broccoli sprouts will change their texture, making them less crunchy and are therefore not ideal for cooking; instead, frozen broccoli sprouts can be juiced or blended into a smoothie.
1. Storing Broccoli Sprouts In The Fridge
What You Will Need
Freshly rinsed and drained broccoli sprouts
Plastic container equipped with an airtight lid
1. Place the drained broccoli sprouts on paper towels and cover them with an extra layer of paper towels. Gently pat the covered sprouts, which ensures that the paper towels absorb any remaining water.
2. Place the dried broccoli sprouts in a plastic container and seal it airtight
3. Store the container in the ridge and check the sprouts every 2- 3 days. Remove any sprouts that may have turned brown or slimy to avoid spoiling the entire batch.
4. The sprouts can be stored for up to 6 weeks in the fridge and only take out moderate amounts that can be consumed at a single seating. The sprouts can be activated by placing them in ice water for 10 minutes before preparing them for cooking.
2. Storing Sprouts In The Freezer
What You Will Need
Freshly rinsed and drained broccoli sprouts
1. Wrap the freshly rinsed and drained broccoli sprouts in paper towels and gently pat to dry out the sprouts
2. Place the dried sprouts on a cookie sheet and freeze-dry for up to 1hour in the freezer
3. Transfer the frozen sprouts into a freezer bag and seal it airtight
4. Store the bag in a freezer for up to 3 months. Only take out enough amount for a single serving as the frozen sprouts usually get soggy when thawed
Broccoli Sprouts Recipe
The freshness and mode of storage used will determine the best way to prepare and eat broccoli sprouts.
Freshly Harvested Broccoli Sprouts Recipes
Broccoli Sprouts And Brussels Sprout Delight
Recipe Inspired By AllRecipes.com
2 cups broccoli florets
8 brussels sprouts – halved and trimmed
1 tomato- seeded and diced
¼ teaspoon table salt
½ teaspoon red pepper
3 tablespoons butter
2 chopped garlic cloves
1. Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat
2. Add the garlic and cook while stirring until its fragrant
3. Stir in the broccoli, brussels sprouts, and tomatoes
4. Season with salt and red pepper
5. Cover the skillet and cook for 5 minutes or until browned on the lower side
6. Flip the broccoli and sprouts and cook for another 5 minutes
7. Serve while hot
Broccoli Spout Salsa
Recipe Inspired By CulturesForHealth.com
2 cups fresh broccoli sprouts
2 cups chopped tomatoes
Sea salt to taste
½ jalapeno- seeded and chopped
½ cup finely minced onion
½ cup minced cilantro leaves
Juice from squeezing a single lime
1. In a mixing bowl add all ingredients and mix well
2. Season with salt to taste
3. Serve atop grilled chicken or fish. Alternatively use it as a dip for chips or beans and rice
Frozen Broccoli Sprouts Recipes
Broccoli Sprout Smoothie
Recipe Inspired By CleanEatingKitchen.com
¼ cup Hemp seeds
½ cup Frozen broccoli sprouts
1 teaspoon of cocoa powder
½ cup baby spinach
4 dates- pitted
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ cup frozen pineapple chunks
1 banana frozen
2 cups of filtered water
1. Combine the hemp seeds, broccoli sprouts, cocoa powder, spinach, dates, vanilla extract, pineapple, banana and water in a blender
2. Set the blender on smoothie mode. Alternatively, you can blend the ingredients on high for up to 1 minute or until they are thoroughly blended
3. Serve while the texture is still creamy and smooth
Broccoli Sprouts: Rhonda Patrick
Dr. Rhonda Patrick is a nutritional health and ageing expert and a firm believer in the wonders of broccoli sprouts. Her research work has championed the uptake of home sprouting broccoli.
Dr. Rhonda Patrick’s Smoothie:
1 cup frozen broccoli sprouts
¼ cup frozen blueberries
Six small kale leaves
Enough cold water to blend
One scoop protein powder
11 tablespoon chia seeds
One teaspoon maca
½ cup of organic whole milk yogurt (optional)
Add the ingredients into a blender and run it on a high power setting for up to a minute. Use a spoon to scrape the sides and mix up the ingredients before blending again and adding water until its smooth.
Ways to Increase Sulforaphane Content in Broccoli Sprouts
Increasing the amount of sulforaphane produced in broccoli sprouts leads to increased health benefits. This can be done via a variety of ways that alter the production of the chemical.
1. Heating the Broccoli Sprouts
Heating the broccoli sprouts after harvesting them will trigger the release of sulforaphane. This reaction peaks at 140 °F (60 °C); however, exposing the sprouts to this high temperature for more than 10 minutes will reduce the concentration of sulforaphane. This can be done by heating water up to 140 °F and pouring it into a large bowl together with the sprouts. Rinse the sprouts with cold water after ten minutes and use them as per the recipe.
3. Directly Freezing the Broccoli Sprouts
Directly freezing broccoli sprouts to -4°F (-20 °C) leads to a sharp increase in the production of sulforaphane within the broccoli sprout cells. Directly freezing the broccoli sprouts can also be done before the sprouts are moved into the freezer for long term storage up to 3 months. This ensures that the broccoli sprouts will still produce more sulforaphane even after storage.
How Much Broccoli Sprouts To Eat Per Day?
While there's no limit as to how much broccoli sprouts you can eat per day, 100 grams per day can provide the full health benefits accrued to consuming broccoli sprouts.
How Long Does It Take Broccoli Seeds To Sprout?
It takes around 2 to 4 day to sprout broccoli seeds
Can You Eat Broccoli Sprout Seeds?
Yes, you could, but they have less nutritional value compared to the actual sprouts, and just like other seeds, they do not digest well
Why Are My Broccoli Seeds Not Sprouting?
Inadequate moisture leads to poor germination, other factors that might prevent the seeds from sprouting include: extreme temperature (beyond the optimal range of 45- and 85-degrees Fahrenheit.
How Do You Sprout Broccoli Seeds In A Jar?
Simply place the seeds in the jar and cover it with a sprouting lid, add water and allow the seeds to soak overnight or at least 12 hours. Rinse and drain the seeds before resetting the mason jar upside down and at an angle so that the remaining water can freely drain.
Are Broccoli Sprouts Better Than Broccoli?
Yes, broccoli sprouts have a higher nutritional count compared to fully grown broccoli
Are Broccoli Sprouts Healthy?
Yes, broccoli sprouts contain essential vitamins and minerals as well as antioxidants such as sulforaphane
Can You Eat Too Many Broccoli Sprouts?
Eating more than 4 cups of broccoli sprouts per day may exceed the safe dose of sulforaphane which may trigger adverse reactions within the body
Does Freezing Broccoli Sprouts Increase Sulforaphane?
Yes, directly freezing broccoli sprouts increases the sulforaphane yield by two-fold
Can Broccoli Sprouts Make You Sick?
Raw broccoli sprouts can easily be contaminated with harmful bacteria, and when consumed raw, this can result in food poisoning
Can Broccoli Sprouts Cure Cancer?
Broccoli sprouts contain antioxidants such as sulforaphane which can reduce the chances of developing cancer, but no medical research has conclusively shown that they can cure cancer
How Do You Increase Sulforaphane in Broccoli Sprouts?
Directly freezing broccoli sprouts leads to a direct increase in sulforaphane concentration.