Fenugreek is a seed, usually eaten as a spice in curries or when cooking fish. It tastes warm and slightly bitter, and has a lot of health benefits. You can increase the fenugreek in your diet by cooking with it, making fenugreek tea, sprouting it or eating the soaked ‘berries’.
Health benefits for fenugreek listed in Isabell Shipard’s ‘How Can I Use Herbs In My Daily Life?’ include immune system support, reducing many types of cancer and unwanted skin growths, balancing both male and female hormones, and digestive support. It also increases milk flow in nursing mothers.
Because sprouting increases enzyme activity and vitamin content (by up to hundreds of times) compared to the dry grain or spice, I usually sprout my fenugreek. It’s really easy to sprout, and doesn’t go slimy. I often forget to water them for a few days and they just keep growing happily.
Fenugreek seeds look like small oblong pieces of gravel. Soak them overnight in a small jar of water. I soak a tablespoon or two at at time.
The soaking water will turn pale yellow and smell spicy. It’s healthy to drink; you can even soak fenugreek for just this purpose, changing the water every day for three days.
Once the seeds have swelled, drain the water off and drink it. Rinse the seeds briefly and drink this water as well, or tip it out. Leave the jar to drain. An easy way to drain it is propping it over a drinking glass. It doesn’t matter if a few seeds fall into the glass, you can just eat them.
Unlike some other sprouts, fenugreek doesn’t need to be drained meticulously. You can fix cheesecloth to the jar with a rubber band and drain the jar on an angle; however I don’t bother doing this any more. I just tip the water out to drink and leave the jar the right way up.
At this stage, you can eat the soaked ‘berries’. Some of the bitterness will have leached into the water, so the seeds are quite palatable. Add them to salads, curries, stews, sandwiches, soups or just eat by the handful.
Over the next few days, the sprouts will grow a few milimetres a day. They are best when the sprout is about the same length as the seed; a few days old. I eat a small handful a few times a day. I’ve even taken a jarful travelling for a short trip. I packed it dry, adding water when I arrived and eating the sprouts over several days without further watering.
Bulk fenugreek seeds cost about $10 a kilo, or more for organic seed. Look for it at health food or bulk dry goods stores. Half a kilo will make jarloads of sprouts for only $5. Much cheaper than processed multivitamins, and it’s ‘live’ food with all its enzymes and phytonutrients. And it tastes good!