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Winter, with it’s dropping temperatures, snow, wind, rain and ice can bring up a lot of concerns for new chicken owners. It’s easy to feel sorry for them from our nice cozy homes while they’re out in the cold. The reality is that chickens prefer the cold over the intense heat, and do great with the proper set up. You can however keep your birds very happy in the colder months by giving extra protein to keep their strength up.
One way to give them that extra protein is by sprouting your own grains, seeds or legumes. Not only is this extremely easy, it’s inexpensive and fun for the kids to help with as well.
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Chickens Aside, Why in the World Should You Eat Sprouts?
Sprouts are one of the healthiest things we can eat. They are incredibly easy to grow literally on our own kitchen countertops. You do not have to even go outside and get your hands dirty (though, I would argue that’s where all the fun is- just saying). Here are some reasons why we should all add sprouts to our lifestyles and homes.
- Nutrient levels are enhanced in the sprouting process. This cannot be emphasized enough. Just a tiny bit of research will show you quickly that sprouts are a nutritional powerhouse. Fiber, protein, enzymes, vitamins, and essential fatty acids just to name a few.
- Vitamins A, B-complex, C and E are the vitamins that sprouts are predominately providing for your body. What does that mean? That means your vision, reproductive health, immune system, energy levels, brain function, cell metabolism, and antioxidant levels are all given a major boost by including sprouts in your diet. These are so easy to do, it’s worth it.
- Inexpensive and locally grown. Not much else to say about that. Again, how many things have such health benefits but can grow on your countertop? Apartment gardening anyone?
This is how we sprout our green lentils. There are a variety of ways to do sprouting. Many use jars like ours, some use large trays or other sprouting containers it just depends on quantity, space, time and overall goal.
I like to use mason jars for a variety of reasons:
- They take up minimal space (we live in a small home & kitchen).
- We have a smaller flock of birds here in the city.
- We do not eat a huge amount of sprouts. One jar is more than enough for a week.
- I love the beauty of them. Maybe this doesn’t matter to you, but it brings me joy to see the lentils sprouting swiftly as we’re going about our days. They create an earthy backdrop that is alive and functional.
- Easy for the kids to help. When transferring to and from jars, putting lids on, rinsing and dumping etc. the kids are able to easily help every step of the way. Happy kids, happy life.
Ready to Get Started on Your Lentil Sprouts?
- You will need your nutrient rich lentils, a large bowl, water, a 32oz mason jar (or other container), outer rim piece to the mason jar lid, and a piece of cheese cloth or other thin fabric (we just used old worn out kitchen towels). Or you can actually buy sprouting lids specifically made for sprouting.
- Soak 1/2 cup of lentils in bowl of water overnight (8-12 hours). Half a cup will fill one and a half 32 oz mason jars. We usually give a whole jar to the chickens and keep half a jar for ourselves. One cup of dried lentils equals three full 32 oz mason jars when they’re completely sprouted.
- In the morning the lentils will have gotten slightly more plump. Drain out all of the water and then add to mason jar.
- Once all are in the jar, place cloth on top and screw the lid on top of the fabric. Make sure it is snug in place. Drain any excess water. Place the jar on a windowsill or countertop that gets sunlight, but not direct.
*While working in the kitchen it’s important to have all the right quality ingredients. We love the spices from Spicewalla. They’re excellent quality and their packaging is great as well. These are a great gift idea for any time of the year! Spicewalla carries over 125 different herbs, spices and exclusive blends for cooks everywhere, from professional to home kitchens. You can buy replacement spices to refill your existing containers as well as some wholesale options. Check out what they have to offer below:Shop Spicewalla’s Signature Blends
Now, You Wait.
Twice a day (morning and evening for us) you will need to re-soak the lentils. Simply remove the lid and add water. Place lid and cloth back on. Turn upside down to drain all water. Make sure all the water is completely gone. You do not want to have mildew. You can even leave the jars upside down and at a tilt so that water can drain out (just make sure you still have airflow).
Sample, Stop Rinsing When You’re Happy
At this point you get to watch the sprouts grow. Sample them each day to get a feel for the flavor you’d like. Early on they taste more tart to me, then after a few days have more of a sweet, earthy taste.
Above you see them sprouting only after 24 hours of first soaking. As the sprouts grow and expand, they will need more space. For this batch we used one cup of dried lentils, so ended up with three full jars.
Once they’ve reach your desired flavor, empty jar, let dry and store in the refrigerator for one week. Usually my happy place is after about four days of sprouting. Lentil sprouts can be eaten raw or cooked (think sandwiches, soups, salads, pastas, curries, pizzas etc.). If these are for your chickens I hope you enjoy watching your birds devour a tasty treat.
*Preservation of food is essential to homesteading & emergency preparedness! Freeze drying is the most lightweight option for food storage and has a shelf life up to 25-30 years. If you haven’t heard of them, Harvest Right is an excellent company that has in our opinion the best at home freeze dryers on the market. Check them out and see what you think:
Really the possibilities are endless in how you use your lentil sprouts and the health benefits cannot be ignored! Enjoy yourself with this one and don’t forget to include the kids. Guarantee they will love it and make memories lasting for years to come.
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Looking forward to next time,
Herbs, Birds & the Bees
Garden, Chickens, Bees & Homestead