This time of year I get itchy about growing things. Planting even cool weather crops is still a couple weeks off. But it’s easy to grow your own sprouts on the kitchen counter.
These are radish sprouts, about one day into the process. I doubt it’s a good idea to use seeds intended to go in the ground, though organic ones that haven’t been sprayed with anything might be okay. These were specifically for sprouting, though I did find the package at the nursery.
A few days ago I stopped into another nursery to get a package of purple pole beans before they were all gone (for some reason they’re hard to find here) and happened into these broccoli and alfalfa seeds for sprouting. (The wheatgrass is for the cats.) There are plenty of places to order seeds and sprouting supplies online. This site has a good selection and plenty of instruction. If you’re looking for exotic seeds, try Sprout People. I haven’t ordered from them, but their prices look pretty good, and they offer interesting choices like leek seed and peanuts.
But you don’t need to spend much money, go far afield, or buy special equipment. One of the easiest seeds to sprout is mung beans, and you can get them in the bulk food section of many stores. Best to go with organic if you can find them. I’ve also sprouted peas and other beans purchased in bulk.
Whatever seed you decide on, here’s what to do: Put about a tablespoon and a half of seed in the bottom of a quart canning jar.; Cover the top with a single layer of cheesecloth and screw on the outer band. Pour water through the cheesecloth into the jar – about 3/4 cup should be about right. Make sure the seeds are covered. Leave to soak overnight.
The next morning drain off the water, pour in more, rinse the seeds, and pour it off. Each day rinse the seeds morning and night and three or four times during the day. The idea is to keep them damp but not drown them, so be sure to drain all the water out. Drape a towel over the jar or put it in a cupboard for the first few days because most seeds start to sprout in the dark.
In a day or so you’ll see the little shoots curling out of the seeds. You’ll know when they’re ready to eat, which is typically in about five or six days (though some take longer). Rinse off the loose seed hulls – they’re edible but could encourage mold. Your sprouts will last in the fridge for a week or more.
Each kind will reflect the flavor of the plant they are – radish sprouts are hot, broccoli taste like broccoli, peas taste a bit like raw peas, though not so sweet. You can sprout grains like wheat and barley, alliums like garlic or onion, and herbs like dill or fenugreek.
Sprouts can be used in salads and stir fries, on sandwiches or added to pasta. They make great low fat, low carbohydrate snacks. High in protein and fiber, antioxidants and chlorophyll, they’re healthy as all get out. They contain phytochemicals and saponins which are good for the immune system and lower cholesterol. Plus, they’re easy and fresh – more so than the tired bean sprouts in the produce section of the grocery store.