Shannon

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I am wife to Stewart, mama of five, homeschooler, messy cook, and avid fermenter. This is where I tell our story... of building a sustainable off-grid homestead in a Christian agrarian community... of raising this growing family of ours... of the beauty and the hard and the joy in all of it.
900 articles written by Shannon

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I’ve spent much of the past week with jars, two canners, and a whole lot of bovine. A week ago we picked up the first three boxes that make up the butchering of a bull. That Wednesday I got a great deal of help from the ladies in our community and we put up 105 quarts all told. We’ve since increased that number to 140, filled our little solar freezer and our neighbor’s, and have been enjoying a great deal of meat and now bone broth in our meals. Today we pick up the last two boxes – one more for making broth and one more filled with organ meats. So it looks like liver and tongue and heart will be on the menu as well and with all the bustle I got zero photos of the process.

The goats are pregnant, or so we think, and are beginning the drying up process. A little less milk runs through the filters every day and I don’t believe it is a coincidence, this provision of gallons and gallons of bone broth coinciding precisely with the dwindling of the milk.

The hens, too, are producing wildly and it is all you can eat on that front. We’ve never gotten this many eggs before and what a gift to have more than we can use of something or other.

I may as well say it: It seems like full on spring here in the gardens. The peas are now three inches taller than that photo. The onion beds and rows are looking lovely. The boys’ lettuce is ready for thinning and I heard something about the first carrot sprouting. Stewart planted a flat of collards yesterday and the lettuce in the Pallet Garden still has a ways to go.

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But before that bull took over our kitchen and before we began planting seedlings, there was this field. For sometime now we have talked about expanding the Chicken Field to two or three times its size. Every garden bed we’ve ever planted here we (and by we I mean mostly Stewart) have cultivated by hand. This new field needs lots of breaking up and mixing in and we are hopeful that doing so once on a big scale will lend itself to not having to disturb the soil with tilling on such a scale as this again.

This new field about triples the size of the Chicken Field and we decided to see if Mr. Sifford would allow us to use his tractor for the project. Stewart found some old hay for a good price on Craigslist so many bales of that, a couple of bags of gypsum, and some chicken manure later we now have 274 perimeter feet of garden to fence in. That is, of course, an approximate number since Annie and I did the measuring while calling out numbers and adding as we went as Joshie sang his own tune from the stroller. So pretty approximate.

So that is where the homestead stands one week into March.

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I tend to paralyze easily when something seems like a large undertaking. Before I gave it a try, cheesemaking was like this for me. Now we have a couple of simple goat milk cheeses I make and it seems crazy how easy that is. This also happened to me last week when Annie and I decided to clean out and reorganize the kitchen cabinets. By lunch time we’d gotten as far as taking everything out and filling the entire floor and dining table with their contents, which coincided exactly with everyone’s desperate need for lunch and a nap.

Paralyzed.

Thankfully, sprouting is less like cabinet organization and more like making simple cheese – way easier than you thought it would be and with fewer people crying.

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Sprouting is great for this time of year when the garden is either still dormant or just beginning to show life again. Sprouts are one of the absolute best sources of enzymes, according to this article:

While all raw foods contain enzymes, the most powerful enzyme-rich foods are those that are sprouted (seeds and legumes).

Beyond sprouts, that article details why enzymes are really important not just for digestion, but for every function of the body and particular in fighting off inflammation. This is the number one reason we grow sprouts, though we also just like the flavor and texture as well.

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How to Grow Sprouts Simply

Seeds will sprout if given enough moisture and warmth. That is really all there is to sprouting seeds whether in soil or your home kitchen. If you have water and unadulterated seeds, you can grow sprouts. If you get really into growing sprouts, there are all sorts of sprouters to aid your efforts, but really a canning jar and a ring is all the equipment you need.

If, like me, you were thinking it was one of those things you simply couldn’t get to, here is how simple it is to make salad sprouts:

  1. Place 2-4 Tablespoons of sprouts into a quart jar and cover with 1.5 cups water. Cover jar with a sprouting screen, cloth, or heavy duty paper towel fastened with a rubber band or canning ring. Allow to soak for 8-12 hours or overnight.
  2. Drain off the soaking water. Rinse and drain them and tilt the jar upside down at about a 45 degree angle in a small bowl. This allows any excess water to drain off.
  3. Repeat rinsing and draining twice a day in cooler weather, three or four times a day in hot weather. After 4-6 days you should have fully developed salad sprouts.

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I like to leave my sprouts right next to our water filter so that I see them which reminds me to rinse them as necessary. In the summer I rinse even salad sprouts about three times per day. Legume seeds – peas and beans – tend to need more frequent rinsing due to their high sugar content which can ferment quickly.

Y’all know that I’m not opposed to a little stinky fermentation, but sprouting is a different biological process than fermentation. Plus, sprouted beans are usually crisp and clean in flavor and fermented beans… well, they stink.

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Using and Eating Sprouts

The simplest way to incorporate sprouts is to add them to salads and sandwiches. I also just throw them on to a plate or on top of a bowl of whatever we’re eating. They go well with quiche, beans and rice, and tacos and are great layered with my other favorite enzyme-rich food: ferments!

Sprouts also go undetected in smoothies and can be mixed into avocado for guac or creamy kefir cheese for a dip full of zip and enzymes. Some homegrown garlic and herbs and a squeeze of lemon gives you just what you need to dip raw veggies in for even more enzymes.

Resources

I don’t own a lot of gadgets in general, but the following items I own and use regularly for sprouting:

How about you – have you tried sprouting?