Get them while they're young

I find I often like to eat things young.

Young organisms often seem more tender, juicy and nutritious than their more elderly relatives.

Applying this principle to vegetables suggests the consumption of young plants may be of interest.

Sure enough, a wide range of sprouts represent excellent nutritional sources.

Sprouts have the goodness of adult plants in a more concentrated form.

They are more digestable and palatable than the seeds they come from.

They lack the calories that are present in the stored fats which seeds use to store the energy required for their initial growth spurt.

Many seeds contain enzyme inhibitors - that prevent growth until the correct conditions arise; and toxins - that are intended to shield the nutrients in the seed from predators during storage.

During the sprouting process the seed is transformed - and the result is frequently a substantial improvement from the point of view of a human.

When to pick

In terms of the quality of the suppled nutrition, it seems to me that the best time to harvest the sprouts is when the first pair of leaves has emerged. This is usually when the sprout is most tender and tasty.

The first pair of leaves are known as cotyledons. These seem to me to usually be the best green part of the plant - in nutritional terms. They are better than the other leaves - which in turn are better than stems and roots.

Waiting for later leaves will probably result in more produce being harvested - but the result will increasingly be more like a mature plant than a seedling.

Of course, the younger you eat your seedlings, the more more sprouts will need to be grown - and the more money is likely to wind up being spent on seed.

Go back to Tim's sprout farm.

Tim Tyler | Contact | http://sprouting.org/