Here’s a herb that you can grow through the year without even going out into the garden. As such, it is the ideal herb for growing and using in the winter.
Alfalfa seed, or – sometimes - Lucerne, Purple Medick and Trefoil, is a flowering perennial of ten grown from seeds into Alfalfa sprouts, which make a crunchy, nutritious snack addition.
It is an important forage crop, widely grown throughout the world and harvested as hay. It has the highest feeding value of all common hay crops and is one of the most important legumes (pea family) used in agriculture. We humans use Alfalfa seeds for sprouting. There are many ways to sprout Alfalfa seed. The seed sprouts very easily with few problems.
Depending upon the variety Alfalfa lives from five to twelve years - a perennial legume, which can grow to a height of 1m. It resembles clover, having many clusters of purple flowers.
The root system of Alfalfa is quite substantial - sometimes reaching to 4.5 metres , so very helpful in in drought conditions.
As a leguminous plant, Alfalfa imparts nitrogen into the soil.
Alfalfa seed is sold mainly for sprouts - or sprouting.When grown outdoors as a plant, Alfalfa is cropped as ‘hay’ for feeding all manner of livestock. It is also used as a green manure – beneficial in raising the nitrogen levels in soil owing to the fact that it is one of the Legume Nitrogen-fixing group of plants.
Alfalfa is often sold as 'sprouting' seed for inclusion into salads. In this way it is also deliciously crunchy in brown bread sandwich - either by itself or with other fillings.
It is a good alternative to seed-sown mustard and cress, and sometimes referred to as alfalfa cress.
Alfalfa Plant Alfalfa seed is sold mainly for sprouts - or sprouting.
How to Grow Alfalfa Sprouts
Place 2 tablespoons full of Alfalfa seed into a bowl or sprouter and about 3 times as much warm water. After 8 hours, drain off the surplus water and place the container of seeds in warm place away from direct sunshine. Rinse the Alfalfa seed, and repeat every 12 hours or so. After the fourth day - or so - the sprouted Alfalfa seed will be ready for greening. Simply place the sprouter or bowl in a lighter place for a couple of days. The timing is dependent upon the temperature.
Alfalfa is rich in many nutrients which include calcium, potassium, iron and vitamins C, D, E and K. This makes it a great herb for restoring strength to the sick and weak. It is used to treat all digestive weaknesses. Alfalfa builds strength and vitality and can be used to increase weight. The seed sprouts also have cooling properties making it ideal for disorders related to heat and inflammation.
Uses of the herb Alfalfa includes treatment for cystitis, burning urine, lowering fevers and lowering cholesterol, diabetes, ulcers, arthritis and rheumatic problems and lower back ache. A pretty good list of medicinal uses!
Dehydrated alfalfa leaves are used as dietary supplements in several forms. They can be obtained as tablets, powders and tea.
Alfalfa seed sprouts seen here sprouted in a glass container. The sprouts are then normally 'greened'. Try cooking with this very versatile herb, there are many recipes available.
Alfalfa sprouts have increased in popularity mostly because of their great taste and crispy crunchy texture. A single sprout is actually a tiny plant that is very easy to digest. Since these delicate sprouts have high water content, they will fill you up fast, but with few calories - only 10 or so calories per cup serving.
Look for fresh, tender, yet crisp Alfalfa sprouts. Many stores offer sprouts still in their growing trays to ensure freshness. Avoid soggy, limp sprouts.
Alfalfa seed Sprouts need to be washed just before use. Alfalfa sprouts make a superb crunchy addition to salads or replace lettuce in sandwiches.