Cheap, nutritious, organic…

What if you could grow your own organic food for very little money and almost no effort?

What if it didn’t need any soil, any sun or any gardening experience?

What if it could grow in any climate at any time of the year producing no waste?

What if this crop was ready to eat in 3-4 days, multiplied more than 400% in volume in a week and was high in nutritive value?

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It might sound like a dream but it’s real and accessible to everyone.

Welcome to the wonderful world of SPROUTS!

 

HOW TO SPROUT

If you’ve already tried and didn’t have much success or if you’re new to it, here’s an easy guide to grow your own fresh and nutritious sprouts!

  1. Choose the seeds

The majority of seeds that come from an edible plant can be sprouted for consumption but some can be quite tricky and require particular attention and techniques. Start with seeds easy to sprout: alfalfa, fenugreek, lentils, mung beans or adzuki beans.

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  1. Select the seeds

Check the seeds and take away the one that are broken or not completely formed, as they won’t sprout and potentially cause the whole lot to go moldy

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  1. Soak the seeds

Every seed has a different soaking time but to keep it simple you can soak them overnight and that will work with most seeds. You can soak them directly in your sprouting jar covered with a muslin cloth kept in place by a rubber band. In the morning pour the water out and let them drain on a slight angle.

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  1. Care for the seeds

Rinse the seeds at least 2-3 times a day and in very hot days make sure they don’t dry out. You can rinse them directly in the jar and pour the water out through the muslin cloth

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  1. Enjoy

The sprouts are ready to be eaten when the tiny roots are a couple of centimetres long but you can sprout them all the way to the development of the first leaves.

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  1. Store the seeds

If you’ve sprouted more seeds than what you can eat (and it often happen as a little handful will get you going a long way!) you can store them in an air-tight container in the fridge for a few days. But fresh is best.

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A FEW TIPS

Don’t underestimate how much the seeds will increase in volume: use a large jar for a little handful of seeds. If they are too crowded it’s more likely that mold will develop.

Rinse the seeds often and if the water doesn’t come out clear, rinse again. This also will prevent mold from forming.

Get into a routine and start a new batch every couple of days so that you never run out.

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SERVING SUGGESTIONS

Sprouts are best enjoyed raw, carrying a high bio-energetic value (pure life force) that generates healing and general well-being.

They are delicious with everything and add flavor and texture to any meal: have them for breakfast with yogurt and muesli, for lunch in a sandwiches or for dinner accompanying stir-fries and soups. And of course try them in combination with Wagtail salad mix: absolutely unforgettable!

 

 

Purslane: “weed” or “superfood”?

 

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Purslane (Portulaca oleracea), also known as pigweed (not to be confused with pigface, Carpobrotus rossii) is an annual plant that grows like a ground cover. The stems and leaves are succulent-like and produce a clear juice when squeezed. It is very easy to find in Adelaide and in fact it is naturalized almost everywhere in the world.

 

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What is a weed?

When we asked one of the most knowledgeable herbalist of Australia what was her definition of weed she answered “A weed is a plant whose use has been forgotten or yet to be discovered”. This made us reflect on how many incredibly useful plants grow around us whose value we don’ t recognize until it is revealed to us. Purslane is definitely one of these plants. Highly revered in Mediterranean and Eastern cuisine (Italian insalata di misticanza, French bonne famme soup, Lebanese fattoush just to mention a few dishes) it is almost unknown to the Australian palate.

So let’s discover some of the qualities of this incredible plant that in this season is popping up everywhere without requiring any gardening effort and in fact grows extremely well under any condition (sun or shade, rich or poor soil, watered or not).

What is a superfood?

At Wagtail farm we believe that “superfood” is a very clever marketing invention to make people believe that some very expensive food from the other side of the planet has miraculous properties that you really cannot do without. In our opinion any food grown in a rich soil, in a way that is natural and respectful to the planet, and consumed fresh and locally is a superfood. If it is wild harvested, even better. Veggies from your garden, fruit from your neighbor’s tree, herbs and berries collected in the bush, “weeds” harvested from safe collecting areas: these are the real superfoods, connecting you to the land you stand on and nourishing your body with the local nutrients tailored to the climate and conditions you live in!

Is purslane a superfood? Absolutely! And it won’t cost you a single penny!

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Medicinal benefits

  1. The Latin name portulaca derives from the terms ‘potare’, to carry and ‘lac’, milk and in fact the plant is know and used by nursing mothers for its ability to increase milk production. A good memory trick to remember this is to think about the shape of the leaves, which can resemble a woman’s breast;
  2. It has a high content of vitamin C;
  3. The most rewarded characteristic of this plant is its high content in omega-3, one of the essential fatty acids that our bodies need to function properly. In specific, purslane contain a good amount of alpha-linolenic acid which helps to lower cholesterol, regulate blood pressure and metabolism and protect against bladder, breast, lung and prostate cancer and melanomas;
  4. It’s rich in iron and magnesium and therefore helps to nourish the spinal cord, the nerves and the brain fibers promoting memory, concentration and muscle function.

 

Culinary uses

Purslane can be eaten raw or cooked and is very adaptable to any dish that calls for greens. It is very common to have it in a salad, usually in combination with onion, chives or freshly grounded pepper to counteract the cooling effect of the plant. It is good in sandwiches, stir-fries, omelettes, soups and pickles.

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It can be eaten freely, however it does contain a reasonable amount of oxalic acid (about the same amount as spinach); the younger the leaves the lower the content. If this worries you, keep in mind that a high oxalic acid intake is not a problem as long as it is combined with foods rich in calcium (vegetables, greens and dairy) and daily exposure to sunshine for vitamin D synthesis (for further references on oxalic acid see How can I use herbs in my daily life by Isabell Shipard, highly recommended book to have in your collection).

Purslane seeds

Early settles mention Australian Aboriginals collecting purslane seeds and grinding them into a flour that they would then cook into small cakes in hot ashes. Botanist Joseph Maiden wrote in 1889 “One would suppose that so small a seed would scarcely repay the labour of collecting” but “ the natives get in splendid condition on it”.

A patch of about a square meter will produce a heaped tablespoon of oily, highly nutritious seeds, which flavour has been compared to the one of linseed.

 

Pickled purslane recipe

1 cup of whiteIMG_9037 vinegar

1 TBS of sugar

½ TBS of salt

herbs and spices (bay leaves, fennel seeds, mustard seeds, nigella seeds…)

freshly picked purslane stems and leaves

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Rinse the purslane, cut it in small sections and place it in sterilized jars. In the meantime bring the vinegar with all the other ingredients to a boil and let simmer for 10 minutes. Pour the pickling solution over the purslane and fill the jars to the top. Close the jars and let cool down upside-down. Wait at least a month before consuming.

So please, don’t call this amazing plant a weed but enjoy the health benefits of such an incredibly adaptable “superfood”.