These days I feel safe in saying that everyone is familiar with sprouts. You can find them on sandwiches, salads and in stir-fries. What you might not know is that there is an amazing range of textures and flavors of sprouts. They are extremely easy to grow and you can do it right in your kitchen any time of the year. You can't get much fresher than that!
If you are wondering why anyone would want to eat sprouts, there are actually some very good reasons. They are a low-calorie, no fat food with an increased amount of vitamins and minerals. Broccoli sprouts, just like broccoli, contain special cancer fighting phytochemicals. But if broccoli isn't one of your favorite vegetables, try the sprouts. A tablespoon of sprouts contains as much of these beneficial nutrients as found in a whole pound of broccoli.
With just a little exploration, you'll discover all kinds of tasty sprouts to try. I really like sunflower sprouts because they are large, crunchy and have a rich flavor. Radish sprouts are hot and spicy with a slight red coloring, which makes them great for dressing up a salad. Milder tasting sprouts such as clover and alfalfa are great on sandwiches. And what would stir-fry be without bean sprouts?
Growing sprouts is about the easiest gardening you'll ever do. All it takes is light, water, a few seeds, a jar and some cheesecloth.
- (2) tablespoons high quality, untreated seeds (Seeds to try: alfalfa, clover, radish, sunflower, lentils, soybeans, mung beans.)
- quart sized mason jar
- cheese cloth
- rubber band
Remove any damaged or split seeds and rinse the remainder in lukewarm water.
Now you are ready to soak the seeds. Depending on the size and density of your seed selection you should soak them from 3 to 8 hours. Small varieties like alfalfa take less time than something large like a mung bean. Many sources recommend that you soak the seeds overnight, which can be more convenient if you don't want to watch the clock. Place the seeds in a sterilized, quart mason jar and add lukewarm water at a ratio of 3 parts water and 1 part seeds. Set aside to soak.
After soaking the seeds you are ready to drain off the soak water, which is actually quite nutritious. You can use it to make soups, tea or even as a healthy tonic for your plants. To easily drain the water from the jar you can buy special sprouting jars with a metal mesh top, but I just secure a little cheese cloth to the mason jar using a rubber band.
Now you are ready to rinse the seeds. Without removing the cheese cloth add fresh, lukewarm water to the jar. Swirl gently and drain. Now remove the cheese cloth and discard any loose hulls. Replace the cheese cloth with a fresh piece, secure with the rubber band and set your jar in a dark place propped at a slight angle.
You will need to rinse and drain the seeds every morning and evening for several days. Be careful not to break the tender shoots during the process as this will cause the seeds to spoil. Use cold water for your final rinse.
After 4 or 5 days you will have mature sprouts, although they will be a little pale. Just set them in indirect light and they will turn green within a few hours as chlorophyll production increases.
To remove any lingering hulls gently wash the sprouts in a large bowl of cold water.
Store your sprouts in the refrigerator in a container that allows air circulation.