Alfalfa (Medicago sativa)
Alfalfa Identification: Alfalfa is a deep-rooted perennial plant from the Leguminosae family with a smooth, erect stem growing 2 to 3 feet tall.
Leaves: It bears grayish-green pinnately trifoliate leaves, with egg-shaped leaflets; it looks much like a large clover. Alfalfa Flowers
Flowers: Its violet-purple flowers grow in racemes, from 1/4 to 1/2 inch long, producing spirally-coiled seed pods. The flowers appear from May through October.
Habitat: Fields & roadsides. Throughout the world in a variety of climates.
Nutrients (Per 100 grams)
Calories – 52 Niacin – 0.5 mg Thiamin – 0.13 mg
Calcium – 12 mg. Phosphorus – 51 mg. Vitamin A – 3,410 IU
Fat – .4 grams Protein – 6 grams Vitamin C – 162 mg.
Iron – 5.4 mg. Riboflavin – 0.14 mg.
(Also contains the anti-oxidant Tricin.)
Harvest: Young leaves and flowerheads, spring through summer.
Uses: Tea, nutritional supplement, salad. The dried and powdered young leaves and flowerheads of alfalfa are highly nutritious. They can be steeped in hot water for 10 minutes to make a healthful tea, or added to breakfast cereals or stews as a nutritional supplement. The taste is fairly bland, so when making tea, it is best to mix
alfalfa with other teas. The tender young leaves can be added fresh to salads.
Sprouting Alfalfa Seeds: During times of famine when we can’t get fresh produce, sprouting will be a great way to get the vitamins and minerals we need to survive.
1.With your scissors, cut a piece of panty hose or cheesecloth that you can put on the top of a quart jar. It needs to be big enough to drape over the edge at least an inch or so.
2.Measure and put a tablespoon of alfalfa seeds into your quart jar.
3.Put some water in the jar so that the seeds are completely covered up.
4.Put the cheesecloth or piece of panty hose on the top of the jar. Keep it in place by stretching a rubber band around the outer edge of the jar.
5.Put the jar somewhere where it won’t get disturbed. The ideal sprouting temperature is around 70 degrees but between 70 and 80 degrees will be O.K. Let the seeds soak overnight.
6.The next day, take the jar to a sink and turn it upside down to drain out the water. (House plants love the drained water.) Take care to turn the jar over gently. Overturning the jar rapidly will cause rapid shifting in the sprouting seeds. This can break the tender shoots and kill the broken shoot. This breaking of the shoot causes the seed to spoil.
7.The seeds need to be damp but not totally wet. Put the jar in a cupboard or closet. In very humid weather the sprouts should be kept in a dry place such as above a stove, or wrapped in a towel and by a sunny window.
8.Every day, take the jar out three times a day (morning, afternoon and evening). Take it to the sink and put in some cool water. Rinse the alfalfa seeds by moving the jar around a little in a swishing and rotating manner. Each time be sure to drain the rinsing water so the seeds are just damp and moist- not soaking wet!
9.Check out the little seeds. They should be very white and you should see little sprouts growing! In 2 or 3 days, the sprouts will get to be several inches tall.
10.On the 4th day, after you rinse them and drain off the excess water, put the jar on a windowsill or table top where it will get indirect sunlight. The tiny leaves will turn green in a few hours. You should then rinse the hulls off the alfalfa sprouts to prevent premature spoilage. Fill a big bowl or pot with water. Add the sprouts. The hulls will float to the top. Skim off the hulls with a strainer or piece of screen. You may need to shake the water gently.
11.Now you can eat them! Make a garden salad and put your sprouts on top. Try adding sprouts to a cold sandwich.
NOTE: You can also use sprouting trays. Sprouting trays help keep the seeds from growing molds and bacteria. If you use the jar method, you need to rinse the seeds more often, and, if possible, keep them inverted so the water will continuously drain.
Pour boiling water over the alfalfa. Let it sit for about 10 minutes. Strain.
Alfalfa tea is suitable for daily use. This brisk, appetite- stimulating tea is improved by adding peppermint or some other botanical flavoring. It is also rich in vitamins and minerals.
Alfalfa Salad & Dressing
Assorted salad leaves (lettuce, spinach, dandelion, evening primrose, winter cress, etc.)
1 part vinegar
3 parts oil
1 tsp mustard
1 clove garlic, crushed
Salt & Pepper
Pinch of sugar
Arrange salad leaves on plate. Add alfalfa sprouts and sliced cucumber.
Mix dressing ingredients together and pour over salad
Alfalfa Sprouts & Cucumbers
1 lg. cucumber, diced
4 tomatoes, diced
French or ranch dressing
1 cup alfalfa sprouts
Mix cucumber and tomatoes and place on a bed of fresh salad greens, surrounded by fluffy alfalfa sprouts and topped with your choice of dressing. This is also great sprinkled with toasted sunflower seeds.
Alfalfa also has medicinal properties.