Feb 20, 2014

Fodder Sprouting Solutions

When last I left you on my fodder project, I had managed to defeat the mold and got to feed it to my rabbits.  Since then, I've been doing a number of experiments, specifically on what the best sprouting solution is.

To start off with, I tried to make a solution which I estimated should have come out to a pH of 6, which I understand is generally too low for mold to grow in, but should still be in the range for wheat to grow (at least, if it were soil instead of water).  My math was averaging out the pH of water (7) and vinegar (2), which should have been 4 parts water and 2 parts vinegar.  I still have some doubts whether averaging actually applies to a solution like this, but I thought I'd give it a try.  (It probably would have been more accurate if I had dug out the pH test strips).  Unfortunately, even though I only soaked it in that solution for 1 day, after 4 days (the last 3 being in water-only), I still wasn't seeing sprouts.  I gave up on that batch.

4 different solutions for trying to sprout fodder.
My next trial was to compare soaking in only water to soaking in a bleach solution, and soaking in two different concentrations of vinegar.  The bleach solution ended up being 3.7% bleach just because that was exactly how much bleach I had when I poured it into the water.  3.7% is in range of the recommended 3-10%.  For the vinegar, I did a 5:1 concentration (just a little less acidic than my previous experiment) and a 10:1 concentration (works out to 9.1% vinegar).

41 hours since starting wheat fodder in various solutions.
I left them in those solutions for 24 hours, then let them just sit in their jars.  By 41 hours after initially starting their soak, the water-only batch had very obvious sprouts.  The bleach solution had less, but there was at least signs of sprouting.  Neither of the vinegar solutions showed any signs of trying to sprout.  I really wanted vinegar to work (I keep hearing so many people crying out about using bleach), so I gave the vinegar trials a little longer to do their thing.  After 3 full days, there was still no sign.

3 days into 3% vinegar trial.
My next trial was to see if maybe the vinegar jars weren't sprouting because I was using distilled white vinegar instead of apple cider vinegar (often called ACV).  I also decided to reduce the solution down to 3% vinegar.  I set up one jar that was 3% white vinegar, and another that was 3% ACV, let them soak for 24 hours, rinsed them thoroughly and took a peak at their growth.  Nothing.  Let them sit in their jars for a little longer. Nothing.  At 3 days, it finally looked like they were warming up to the idea of sprouting, but there didn't appear to be a difference between white and ACV.

Bubbles in the water over soaking grains.
What if I was soaking the seeds too long in the vinegar solution?  That was my next trial.  For the time trial, I set up 6 pint-size jars, each with 1/2 cup of seeds and 200 mL of 3% ACV solution.  The first one was drained after 30 minutes, rinsed thoroughly, drained again, and re-filled with plain water. The second had the same thing done to it at 1 hour.  The rest were at 2 hours, 4 hours, 8 hours and 12 hours.  I did have some concerns about the about of bubbles that I was seeing in the jars.  I crossed my fingers that the grains weren't actually fermenting.  At 24 hours, I drained all of them, and spread them into seedling trays.  There were already differences between the various times.
Differences between exposure to solution in 24 total-time soak.
This trial seems very promising, although I'm still holding back any conclusions.  It's been over 12 hours since they were dumped into the trays, and the growth is obvious on all of them, in various degrees.

36  hours into timed-exposure trial.