Homemade Hemp Sprout Bag:
Ha! So here is the result of my attempt at making my own hemp sprout bag. After reading how great they are for sprouting from SproutPeople, I just had to try it: They claimed hemp bag sprouting is best for air circulation, drainage — *the* major components to success — travel, ease.
I didn’t want to buy one — why when they are so simple to make? I can use my own materials, and, most important: I want a big one! I made mine 16″ X 14.”
As it is, even though easy, sprouting in mason jars is more work if you have to have multiple jars going at once – they’re not very big…AND, if you’re a sprout fiend like I’ve become … No lie – I’m putting about 1/4 lb in my ETL Salads) — then it’s not going to be something you’re going to really stick with for long if it becomes a hassle and you have to tend to so many jars. Sprouts last a long time in refrigeration — and, in fact, being that they are living, they will continue to grow VERY slowly in the ol’ fridge. Anyway, I don’t intend for them to store for weeks;) ).
Oh, speaking of living food, I don’t know if that’s the reason, but my digestion has been incredible with sprouts. It’s almost as if I’m adding digestive enzymes to my dinner! SOME thin’… I don’t know, but something’s goin’ on with it. Who needs probiotics, flora, or enzymes, blah-blah, Etc?!?! I prefer vegan kefir and kombucha, anyway (post on that coming soon ) Anyway, things just keep getting better and better. I stick to ETL 100% (over 4 years!) — I do my own high-raw version — and continue to strive for the optimal way to eat or as Dr. Fuhrman puts it, “Nutritional Excellence” As the ETL journey progresses, it seems, “It can’t possibly get better!” But it DOES. It so does…on so many levels! And no matter what anyone claims, there’s nothing like a 100% ETL diet. Still hard-core after all these years…Always. Okay, I could ramble, but, back to the bag!
To start, I had no clue as to what type of fabric to choose with so many available and blends — tried asking some sites which sell sproutbags, and got Zero replies. I did some shopping around online and remembered NearSea Naturals, which I forgot I had bookmarked ages ago.
So, which to get??! Well, I hoped for the best and I decided on and used the hemp-organic cotton muslin and made this drawstring bag. This material is VERY easy to work with; (I made Noodles some more eco-suits out of this; it’s perfect and light! I’ll post those soon )I made sure to reinforce the seams since, one, this is going to last forever; and, two, it’s going to be getting lots of use! All that water, hanging, etc., would take its toll pretty quickly on a cheapy bag. Loved the cotton-hemp blend, by the way — PERFECT! I’m going to get 100% hemp next time and see how I like that; but this is just perfection. I also want to try a hemp-flax blend… Soon, soon . I also need to order some proper string! I used food-grade, unbleached cotton string I had, but it’s not ideal. I also need to make the band wider; it’s a bit too skinny, even though the string fit perfectly.
I noted that SproutPeople mentioned hemp bags have “exceptional” and “Superior” air circulation and drainage of the sprouters. I have to agree! I also have to agree, that it is THE EASIEST so far; but, as noted it may require an extra rinse or two. So far it *the* best. I’ll have to wait to see how it goes for the winter; but for summertime — yep, I’ve been rinsing at least 3 times on regular days; but usually 4-times a day and sometimes one more (no air-con on) with this 100-degree+ weather here!
Generally, sprouts also grow faster in warm environments; so it makes sense that, that contributes as well.
But, WOW, the results are fabulous. The sprouts grow FASTer — I’m getting ready-to-eat broccoli sprouts in 3 days*; whereas, it’s 4 or 5 in a jar.
Here is a broccoli seed’s journey with its hempbag, from seed to sprout ;^):
Wet the bag thoroughly, by dipping in a bowl filled with fresh water:
Add the Seeds:
Close the bag and leave to soak as required per seed:
That 1/2 C of broccoli seeds doesn’t look like much in that big bag!
After an 8- to 12-hour soak hang it! That’s it. Hanging it over your sink is easiest — anywhere — and it will be done dripping very quickly too; it’s perfect for on the road, camping, and travel — any-the-heck-where you’re tootin’ off to. The drainage is superb (which is also why it dries quickly and needs TO BE WATERED MORE OFTEN), and the water runs straight through the bag; so give them a good rinse every 8 hours or as needed.
I don’t like to waste water; so I don’t open the bag and then run the faucet over the seeds like SproutPeople recommends — I simply fill a large bowl with fresh water and take them for a thorough dip — just like the above soaking method. (As the seeds grow, obviously, the will need more water to rinse thoroughly each day)
I give it a good swishing and light massage to make sure all the seeds are submerged and nice and rinsed, dip it a few times (like a teabag), and, done! Entire thing takes a minute or less. You don’t need any direct contact with the sprouts at all through the whole process.
Hang it, Baby.
Okay, after only 24 hours…already some sprouts can be seen! Day 1:
Continue the rinse and draining.
Lookin’ large! Day 2:
Wow, Day 3* and these can be eaten already!! Or set them out a couple hours to green first :
But I wanted to let them go wuuuuuuuuuuun more day…
EEk! EXPLOSION!!Jour Quatre:
Major Sproutage! And these have NOT even been officially greened — they’re still in the bag!
Gorgeous. These were much bigger than just the days’ before; they were also crunchy and crispy!
The most delicious sprouts EVER. This yielded….
A whopping 1.2 lbs of Sprouts!
The volume is so HUGE, that, honestly, 1.2 1/4 lbs doesn’t sound right. (These were weighed after spinning dry and the hulls removed)
I stored them in my glassware — they barely fit!
Sprouts growing in this bag also smell very fresh and clean; you will not smell harsh “broccoli.” Even when I’ve fed the sprouts with the kelp, they never had an odor.
To dehull, Sprout People site has great instructions with photos, plus a method if you don’t have a salad spinner. Be aware you will lose a small amount of sprouts in the final rinse-dehulling; hopefully, less each time!
To green, after the final rinse, drain them into a colander (or use the spinner insert), fluff them, and set them in a sunny location, out of direct sunshine, for a couple of hours. I will fluff them up every-so-often to mix, aerate, and loosen those pesky hulls (if any remain from de-hulling OR if you’ve chosen to green before the final de-hulling/rinse); in order that they all get some sun. But that’s not necessary; I just like to do it. I like the window sill, early morning. Many times, they won’t green to the degree as other times; however, this does not automatically mean they are less nutritious; they may just have less chlorophyll. Greening, really, is not necessary for obtaining benefits from eating sprouts; so don’t sweat it if you don’t or can’t. It’s more important that you rinse, drain, and dry properly for storage. Additionally, as in the photos above in the hemp bag, and jar photos, they green anyway! Sometimes, just natural light in your home or electric light, indirectly, is enough. The sprouts “follow the light” .
~ In that vein, I wonder if sprouts absorb Vitamin D or if the amounts are higher in sprouts? ~
Here are few ways I’ve greened: I put them in a colander and give them some light lots of air to dry. Then I gave them a final spin, just to insure all the water was evaporated.
You can simply use the salad spinner insert to green:
This is a fine-mesh, which is not ideal, but okay for smaller amounts:
Here is the ubiquitous steamer insert, which acts as a nice colander; I prefer this to the fine-mesh because of more surface space and bigger holes for air circulation. This or the spinner insert is a better receptacle for greening:
But the reality is a plain ol’ large bowl will do!
I do make sure they are very dry after the spin/greening. Then I line a container with a paper towel (or other light cloth or tea towel) to soak up any respiratory moisture the living sprouts will exude — I prefer glass to any other form of storage; and Anchor Hocking my favorite — it’s thick, sturdy with a heavy lid. Then place the sprouts in without squishing them:
and lay another towel on top (Yes, I just like ):
Cover and store your three — err — my three or four days’ worth of sprouts ():
Storing my leafies this way (and in the green bags lined with towels and sometimes in between if a ton of greens) keeps them fresher even longer because they stay drier. The towels soak up all the moisture.
I’ll be putting together — sorta like quilting — some towels made from the scraps of leftover hemp fabric to use for layering and storage; the paper towels, even though I do reuse them till they tear, I want to cut down, if not eliminate using them: Paper Towels are HUGE landfillers
Another VERY convenient benefit of the hempbags is its quick-drying properties: in one way, you have to give the sprouts an extra rinse or two per day, BUT when it comes to harvesting, you don’t have to go through a long waiting period or drying period (8-12 hours!) before you can store them. My sprouts dried out fast IN the bag.
I’ve also found, that because the bag gets them nice and dry (but NOT “dried out,” by the way) it help loosen the hulls! So they tend to fall to the bottom of the bag, which makes your rinsing and de-hulling much easier, faster, and much better for conserving water. Remove the sprouts in bunches, give your handful a shake to loosen the hulls so they fall into the bag, instead of dumping them and that will help.
The roomy bag also allows for that great air circulation and it also contributes to giving the sprouts space; so they don’t form those webby, tangle-y, blobby-bunches of hair-like masses! They are loose and this contributes tremendously to ease of removing all those hulls.
One could easily just store them straight out of the sprout bag when dry.
However, if you want to do a final-final rinse, then rinse and use that salad spinner; that’s the way I’ve always washed mine, even the store-bought. It gets them very dry; just give it a few spins till dry to the touch. You can store in those green bags (I always wrap my veggies loosely in paper towels first, or line the bag with them) or in glass, as I prefer. If they are still a bit damp and you’re not sure, SproutPeople advises to not seal them tight; but, instead, leave it aerated in the fridge or poke holes in the bag they are stored, etc. Then seal when dry. Too much work for me I just spin and store!
So my large hemp bag, using 1/2 C of Seeds makes at least a 4-day supply; so I don’t need quite that much of additional sprouts I may be adding to my diet, such as the microgreens, clover, buckwheat lettuce, and others. So a smaller bag is order, methinks…
Small Hempbag, 13″ X 9″:
I’ve got some Red Clover Sprouts in this bag right now (they are especially renowned for benefiting womyn); will update it soon, along with a review of the Biosta Sprouter and its results! Yikes, I’m sooo behind!
Now washing and caring for the hemp bag: I rinsed it well, inside out to make sure no seedlings were hiding in the corners, then swooshed it in a bowl of water with a little hydrogen peroxide. Then, (without rinsing it again in water without hydrogen peroxide), let it hang dry. I have to wet the bag next use, anyway, as in step 1; so whatever little hydrogen peroxide that remains on the bag will not be an issue and, in fact, may help: It’s often recommended to clean-rinse the seeds with a hydrogen peroxide solution before even soaking to avoid contamination
This is a MUST if using non-organic seeds…
which no one should be using anyway( ).
It’s better than the bleach the industry uses! OR, I should say used to use…but, frankly, why would I even wonder… This was just another reason to avoid buying even organic from stores: They were/are? compelled — The HACCP Plan (FDA) requires soaking seed in a bleach solution so strong it needed EPA approval — to de-contaminate (and pollute) with bleach! No thanks…I think that is — at least partly why, even of the most delicious store-bought sprouts I’ve eaten, MINE ARE SUPERIOR … AND veganically grown! . I honestly don’t know if bleacing is still the standard or if it has changed (if anyone reading knows, please comment and inform me!) I’ll take the safest route, myself!
I’ll probably do a soap wash and hydrogen peroxide + vinegar rinse every few uses, with the hydrogen-peroxide rinses in between. I use the vinegar+hydrogen peroxide to disinfect all my produce instead of purchasing unnecessary and expensive veggie washes; and it’s great for disinfecting any thing or place – cutting boards! counters, knobs, etc – around the house. Just make sure to do as the link instructs and don’t mix the two!
Here’s the clean bag, hanging dry over my paper towel rack :
Dries ridiculously fast.
If you are concerned with sprouts and seed contamination and bacteria, etc. — firstly, you should buy your seeds from a reputable merchant or from a place/farmer you trust; and you should be buying only organically grown seeds (OH, if only I could get my hands on veganically grown!). Back to contamination — some people worry about it, molding, bacteria, etc. Take basic precautionary measures such as having clean hands; clean tools; avoid touching the sprouts (with the bag, I don’t even open it the entire process!); and use fresh, good-quality water, each soak and rinse; and make sure to rinse well and drain well and often!
You may also like to add some 3% hydrogen peroxide to the rinse water a couple times or at the start and the final rinse for assurance.
I’ve used the following seeds so far, and they’ve all sprouted well in the hemp bag, jars, and cheesecloth method:
Handy Pantry Organic Seeds
Mountain Rose Herbs Organic Sprouting Seeds
Just a word about automatic sprouters — having researched all types and brands, I think the best would be the Easy Green It would cost me $179 + $29.95 shipping. Don’t want or need one at this time (the hempbag is soooo easy). I think, if for some reason it becomes impossible, time-wise, for me to rinse and drain properly, I’ll go with that one. I have actually ordered the FreshLife Sprouter (and returned it!) when if first came out, years ago, and NEVER again… Bad — I mean, bad – service, number one; and too many drawbacks from what I’ve inferred about its mechanics and from the reviews I’ve read.
Now, I still have yet to try chia and flax microgreens in the hemp bag! My first time was good, but not necessarily the easiest! One of preferred ways is to grow mucilaginous seeds, such as flax and chia, is in or on terra cotta/clay pots (like chia pets!) More on clay later. Too bad the buckwheat sprouts I grew (SO incredibly delicious! Gotta have ‘em — Gotta.) in soil can’t be grown in a sprout bag; it needs a medium in which to dig its roots. However, I started them (pre-sprouted them) on cheesecloth that time; now I can use the sprout bag for that ! Much easier, a time saver, and a big space saver! Will be trying the baby blanket and vermiculite, though…I just “have to.”
I adore the hemp bag method! It is _hands down_ the cleanest, best-producing — everythingy — way to sprout.
Obviously, not everyone eats as many green leafies and now sprouts as moi and so don’t need a huge sprout bag; but, if you can sew a semi-straight line, it’s SO doably easy-peasy to make your own! Or, you can always buy the standard hemp sprout bags available all over the web.
*Studies show that 3-day broccoli sprouts are the most powerful for certain circumstances — more than plants sprouted longer.