Sprouting, Step by Step

November 2, 2013 § 3 Comments

I was asked by a friend to help her out with how to get started sprouting.  As a big believer in sprouting, I am more than happy to help!  It’s intimidating at the outset, but with the right sprouter, it can be really simple.  These photos are admittedly pretty boring but I figured they would help with the exposition.

To get started, this is all you need.  A sprouter of your choice, and some seeds or grains to sprout.  I use the BioSnacky glass jar sprouter, but another easy option is the Easy Sprouter.  (I did a comparison of the two sprouters here.)  My sprouting mix of choice for convenience purposes is Totally Organics All-in-One Seed Mix, which I like (and think is particularly good for beginners) because it contains only seeds and grains, and no legumes.  This is important because with seeds and grains, you can feed them simply soaked before they are fully sprouted, whereas with legumes, you need to actually sprout them before they are safe to feed.  For this reason, I always sprout my legumes separately.

Now that you’ve got your supplies, the first step is to portion out how much you want to sprout.  I have a small flock, so I don’t sprout all that much.  This is probably about half a cup or so?  Remember that once you soak and sprout, the portion will at least double in size, if not more.

Next, you have to rinse them a few times.  I fill up the sprouter with water, put the cap on, swirl it around a few times, shake it up as vigorously as I can, and drain.  Repeat that two times.  This is to clean off the seeds/legumes initially (notice that the water is a little bit cloudy the first time).

Then, you can fill it up with water one last time, put the cap on, and set it on the counter to let it soak overnight (or 8-10 hours).

Here they are the next morning– the photo doesn’t show it that well, but the sprouts really expand and soak up a ton of water.

Drain one more time, and now you’re ready to feed!  At least, the initial feeding is good to go.  I only fed a small portion, so what’s left you can leave on the counter to continue draining.  Make sure that two to three times a day, you are doing one more rinse and drain, just to make sure that the sprouts stay damp and the atmosphere in the jar stays humid.

And that’s it!!  So easy, and your parrots will thank you for it!

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Charles and Chard

November 17, 2011 § 7 Comments

I just love this little guy.  He is the best eater ever.  He’ll eat anything, anywhere, anyhow.  This morning I was hanging a big leaf of fresh red chard in his cage but he didn’t want to wait for me to tie it up– he hopped on over and nibbled on it right out of my hand.  He is too cute!!

Sorry that Charles is blurry for half of it.  The video on my camera is supposed to auto focus but it chose to focus on the chard instead of the Charles for a good portion of the video.  He sure loves his chard though!  If you turn the volume up, you can actually hear him taking chomps out of the leaf.

In related food news, Lola had a tasty breakfast this morning of all organic and fresh papaya chunks, pomegranate seeds, broccolini, red chard, carrots, and sprouts.  Yum!  She really liked this combination.

Lola's delicious breakfast this morning

Food and Fun

November 9, 2011 § 1 Comment

Two fun items of food news today: Lola went nuts for her delicious (and very pretty!) breakfast this morning, and we got a package from Avian Organics!!  I’ve been trying to make Lola’s foods as local and as seasonal as possible… and today’s breakfast was almost entirely.  Everything except for the sprouts, which were from the Totally Organics All-in-One Mix, were all locally sourced from the surrounding farmer’s markets.  Today’s meal consisted of fresh and organic swiss chard, kale, broccoli, sweet potatoes, cranberries, and sprouts.  Actually, I’m pretty sure there was one other leafy green but right now it’s escaping me.

Lola's delicious breakfast

She absolutely loves biting into fresh cranberries and chewing them up, and sweet potatoes are one of her all time favorite foods.  She even ate a good amount of the leafy greens.  (I tend to throw in a ton of those, because she tries to avoid them otherwise. But today she was good.)  It’s a shallow bowl, but there was close to nothing left when I removed her breakfast shortly after.

That had me in a good mood this morning, but I was equally delighted when I received a wonderful package from Avian Organics this afternoon!  They recently held a very generous sale and I purchased some staple items and some new ones too… a good mix.  On top of the sale, however, they even threw in not one but two free items!

My order contents from Avian Organics

The staple items ordered are the bottom row: two packages of Pacific Deluxe Parrot Mix and two package of Jungle Trails.  The new items I’m trying for the first time are the new Cravings mix (I’d ordered the old recipe once or twice before but I don’t think Lola ever got a taste of it… it was too delicious to share!), the Jungle Gems, and the Pacific Shores Premium Seed Mix.

Finally, the two lovely toys you see were both freebies!  On the right is the Twister toy, a very cool foraging toy for small birds, and on the left is what was described to me as a “warped” version of one… but I absolutely love it!  I think that the curvy ridges make for even more fun and exciting foraging fun for the little guys.  The warped one was meant as a large foot toy for Lola, but… I’m not quite so sure that she’ll be getting it just yet 🙂  After all, the budgies can’t share!  They need their own everything, of course!

Comestibles Lately

September 7, 2011 § 8 Comments

A big, healthy, delectable box of goodies from Avian Organics arrived today!  I know I’ve said it only six million times, but I’m going to say it once more: I can’t get enough of Avian Organics.  Their products are so incredibly high quality, and so delicious, and so healthy to boot!!  I never imagined that getting my birds to eat so healthily would be so easy.  Put a bowl of anything from Avian Organics in front of them, and it’s like nothing else in the world matters!  As much as I love their products though, I’d be hard-pressed to say whether their products or their customer service were superior.  Doris, the owner, is so kind and so generous that it’s almost unbelievable.  She bends over backwards to help her customers and to make sure that they are happy!  My parrots couldn’t be happier with their tasty goodies, and I couldn’t be happier with how healthy they are and with the incredible customer service.

Half of my order from Avian Organics

The other half of my order from Avian Organics

I was stocking up on a lot of things, so this was a pretty large order.  I order two packages of slightly custom Pacific Deluxe Parrot Mix, two packages of slightly custom Jungle Trails mix, two packages of Mini Truffles, one package of Cazuela, one package of the new Pura Vida, two packages of the Quick Serve, and one package of the Mayan Gourmet Mash.  Doris very generously threw in a package of Cupid Cookies for me for the birds as well!  (Seriously though, have you tried the Cupid Cookies?  They’re really tasty.)  As always, I am incredibly pleased with everything.  I noticed that the Cazuela seems to have even more variety and extremely vibrant and thick peppers, bursting with flavor!

Originally, I was actually thinking about combining the Pacific Deluxe mix with the Jungle Trails mix, the Mini Truffles, the Cazuela, the Pura Vida, and even some Totally Organics Pellets as a new dry mix for Lola, but since I am no longer feeding her any dry mixes in bowls (she has to forage for all of it now), I think I will keep them separate and use them as necessary to keep them fresh for as long as possible.  Lola is going to be really happy that we finally have more Mini Truffles.  She thinks they are just divine!

Lola munching on an almond

Speaking of Lola, our dear friend Natacha of Just Poifect! asked if I had a recent photo of my big girl and I snapped this one yesterday.  (If you haven’t checked out her blog, do!  Especially if you are a fan of Cape Parrots.  She has a new baby girl named Léa and she is quite precious.)  There she is munching on an almond from one of her foraging toys.  She’s been doing well lately, especially with foraging.  She’s no expert, but we’re working on it.  I’ve been creating several variations on her skewers and figuring out what frustrates her, what she will eventually figure out, what she just plain doesn’t understand, and what is mechanically easier and more challenging for her.  I’m hoping to gradually build her up to more and more difficult skewers as we go on.  I purchased one of those polycarbonate foraging wheels for her a while back, but she ended up not really understanding how it worked at all after several weeks/months, so I have it somewhere in storage.  (Just a note: polycarbonate is not a BPA-free plastic and should not be allowed to touch food directly, in my opinion, especially after being repeatedly used and washed over time.)  Hopefully, as her mechanical skills develop, she will be able to learn how to manipulate the foraging wheel in time!

Lola's breakfast this morning

This has nothing to do with anything mentioned above, but I took a quick photo of Lola’s breakfast this morning and thought I’d share.  I have to be honest, this combination would probably be disgusting to the human palette, but I’ve been reading more about birds’ taste buds and am not sure if Lola can tell that these aren’t complementary tastes at all.  (Apparently, birds have far fewer taste buds than humans do.)  Anyway, it’s a mix of sprouted seeds and legumes (the All-in-One mix by Totally Organics, containing barley, rye berries, spelt, kamut, buckwheat, millet, and pumpkin seeds), along with kale, swiss chard, broccoli, sweet red peppers, yellow squash, carrots, papaya, mangoes, and blueberries.  If Lola didn’t enjoy it, she sure faked it well!

Today’s Breakfast and More on Sprouting

August 24, 2011 § 1 Comment

I finally tracked down a second bioSnacky glass sprouting jar!  After endless searching for a U.S. vendor to no avail, I contacted several Canadian vendors.  The lovely and very helpful people at Nature’s Fare were nice enough to special order it for me.  The best part is, they had a shipping special and only charged me $5 for shipping from Canada!  I am very pleased with my purchase.  I thought I’d probably end up spending more on shipping than on the actual jar itself, but the total cost was quite reasonable.  For any U.S. residents looking for one, I strongly recommended emailing them.  They were very professional and also very quick!

I’ve been experimenting with a new sprouting mix lately as well.  I am loving the “Amber Waves of Grain” mix from Sprout People.  It’s a really clean and varied mix with super high sprout-ability for me, containing wheat, rye, barley, triticale, oats, spelt, kamut, quinoa, sesame, millet, and amaranth.  I have to say; somehow their millet is really, really beautiful.  It seems to be nicer and more plump than the millet I’ve seen in other mixes, at the health food store, etc.  The budgies in particular are loving it!  I’ve been mixing the “Amber Waves of Grain” mix with a little bit of the “Oats and Groats” mix, which has hulless oats and buckwheat groats, because all of mine love buckwheat so much.  It’s a big hit!  I am thinking of actually making this my base sprouting mix from now on.

Lola's Breakfast: a Papaya and Raspberry Salad

For breakfast today, Lola had the mix, soaked (hadn’t quite gotten to the sprouting stage, although it’s still going), as part of a beautiful papaya and raspberry salad.  I was too lazy to make a more varied mash this morning, so I went with something more simple instead.  It’s a huge hit!  She always loves her papaya.  I like to give it to her in larger chunks because she loves to sink her beak into it and really chew it up.  She is also enjoying the crunchy fresh kale and chard.  She’ll never finish the whole bowl, but I was a little overzealous since the papaya looked so nice.

Unfortunately, my barley grass didn’t survive.  I forgot to water it one day and the poor grass yellowed and even grew moldy.  I suppose I will have to try again!  Poor Charles misses his fresh grass right now.  Maybe I’ll just stick to wheat grass until I perfect my technique.

I also wanted to give a huge thanks to everybody for your advice and support about Sabrina.  The response was overwhelming and supportive via comments, messages, and emails, and I really appreciate it.  From what I gather, it seems that her behavior is relatively typical of female budgies and Charles and I are just wusses.  I am going to try offering some chamomile tea or chamomile flowers, though, to see if perhaps they might have a calming effect on her feisty personality.  I have some of the new Pura Vida mix from Avian Organics on order, so perhaps she will enjoy that.

New, Fun Sprouts and Grasses

August 12, 2011 § 8 Comments

I recently placed my first order with Sprout People, a really neat sprouting site with a HUGE selection of seeds, grasses, and sprouting accessories!  I just loved their selection and read a few positive reviews from some friends, so I decided to give it a go.  I like that they offer many different quantities of items as well as sampler packs.  I really didn’t want pounds and pounds of sprouting seeds, but I did want a good variety, so the sampler packs allowed me to try a bunch of different things without taking over my cupboard space.  I stuck mostly with things I know my guys like for now, but I also bought a few cool goodies that I am very excited to try.

My first order from Sprout People

I ordered two of the grain sprout samplers, which come with buckwheat and hulless oats, kamut, quinoa, wheat, and a mix called amber waves of grain, containing eleven different types of grains.  I purchased one pound of almonds to sprout for Lola, which I am sure she will love and adore.  I also ordered a “Lil’ Critter Grass Kit” which comes with everything I need to create three small trays of wheat grass, perfectly sized to fit inside the budgie cages!  The growing medium is already cut to size, so it’s perfect for lazy ones like me who don’t want to deal with the mess of soil.  I’ve never used a growing medium before, so I will admit that I’m a bit skeptical, but I’ll put it to the test.  Finally, I also decided to try the grass sampler, which comes with wheat grass, barley grass, rye grass, oat grass, and Kat Grass, or a mixture containing wheat, oats, rye, barley, and flax.  I’m so excited to try these different types of grasses!  I already have my first little tray of barley grass going…

Very young barley grass

I’m really excited to see how the budgies like it.  They are completely obsessed with wheat grass, so hopefully the barley will be a hit, although I’ve read that it’s not nearly as sweet or as palatable as wheat grass is to humans.  They tend to devour anything that’s leafy and green, though, so I’m not too worried.  I also love that it is so healthy for them, and that grasses are a huge part of their natural diet in the wild.  I’m moving towards feeding more and more fresh food and sprouts especially with my flock with the more research I do.  Eventually, I’d like to purchase a dehydrator so that even their dried foods will be processed as little as possible.

On a somewhat related note, both of the two Easy Sprouters that I have left both developed some nasty bacteria and discoloration this week and I had to toss them.  I considered scrubbing and disinfecting them thoroughly but I know it’ll just be back at some length of time.  I’m a little bit disappointed, and I only have my one glass bioSnacky left right now.  I’m relentlessly hunting down another but they are tough to come by.  I might just get a few regular glass jars in the mean time, if nothing comes up soon.  I might purchase another Easy Sprouter or two, but I’m considering just sticking with glass from now on.

The Easy Sprout v. the bioSnacky

July 26, 2011 § 7 Comments

I decided to sprout some of my sprouting mix of choice, Totally Organics All in One Seed Mix, in both the bioSnacky glass sprouting jar and the Easy Sprout sprouter to see if there were any discernible differences in how the two operate or the end product of either.  Here’s how the process looked:

Day One, PM: Just after the initial soak. No differences.

Day Two, AM: Both are just beginning to grow their tails.

Day Two, PM: Both show short sprouts just beginning to grow, but the Easy Sprout has progressed slightly further.

Day Three, AM:Both jars have ready to serve sprouts, but the Easy Sprout has sprouted longer tails and is ready to be moved into the refrigerator.

Day Three, PM: With an extra twelve hours while the Easy Sprout was being refrigerated, the bioSnacky has mostly caught up in progress.

All in all, the Easy Sprout proved to be a more efficient sprouter, possibly because the design produces a more humid and favorable environment for the sprouts to grow in.  Both sprouters kept the sprouts smelling fresh and clean and both sprouters also showed a high success rate with the sprouts (meaning that nearly all of the seeds and grains in them actually sprouted, including most of the millet).

That said I do like both of them very much and the bioSnacky definitely wins points for being far easier to clean and to keep sanitary. I think that I will keep both of them around and use the bioSnacky for my seeds and grains and the Easy Sprout for the legumes, which tend to sprout more slowly. Perhaps the speediness of the Easy Sprout will help the legumes to sprout just as quickly as my seeds and grains in the bioSnacky!

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