So it's winter time and it can be kind of gloomy and cold. One of the comforting things, though, is that I'm able to grow some edible green stuff inside to not only add some colour to the apartment, but to add some major nutrients to my salads. I've been sprouting seeds like mad :) Sprouts are a super cheap way to get some extra greens. I use them instead of lettuce in sandwiches or on rice cakes, in salads, soups and Asian style wraps. Sprouted lentils actually make for a really tasty snack just on their own. I usually have 2-3 jars of different kinds going at any time and really love watching them grow.
I've been growing my own sprouts for a while now, and more so since I discovered the co-op near my fiance's Wisconsin apartment has all kinds of seeds for sprouting. The Willy Street Co-op has seeds for sprouting in their bulk section!! They have your standard alfalfa, but all kinds of others like broccoli, radish, mustard, mung beans, peas and chia (yes, it's the same chia you smeared on a Fred Flinstone chia pet head as a child. It's incredibly healthy for you!). I've had good success with all of these so far, and have even done well sprouting chick peas and lentils.
Because of the energy expended in the early stages of growth, sprouts have many more times the nutrients than the fully grown plant. Some of these little guys also have a surprisingly strong flavour! Mustard and radish sprouts can be quite spicy, so I grow them together with alfalfa to temper them and use it as a "Spicy Salad Mix".
You need so very little to grow sprouts and most of the tools are things you probably have kicking around your house anyway.
* A glass jar
* Cheesecloth, or metal screening or a sprout screen available in stores and online. Cheesecloth is the most commonly used and accessible form of screen.
* Elastic band or the screw on lid of the glass jar
* Seeds (preferably organic ones, as seeds treated with chemicals are less likely to grow)
1. Now, place your seeds in a jar and cut a piece of cheesecloth to cover the lid. If using really small seeds, double up on the cheesecloth so they don't slip out when you drain the jar. Secure with an elastic band.
2. Fill with water and rinse and drain the seeds 3-4 times to get rid of any dust.
3. Now fill again and let the seeds soak. Small seeds like alfalfa, broccoli, radish and mustard only need 5-6 hours of soaking. Lentils are best left overnight. Mung beans need about 12 hrs, and chickpeas 1-2 days (change the water every 12 hrs or so). Chia is a different story and needs a growing pad or medium, so I'll explain how I go around that one separately another time.
4. Drain the jar and leave it on an angle so the water can drain out. This works well on a dish drying rack or in a bowl. Rinse 2-3x / day until little sprouts appear. If you want green leaves, like with alfalfa and salad greens, move the jar to a bright area so the leaves can green.
Some seeds you may want to eat once they get sprouts. Lentils are good just after they've sprouted. Mung beans are nice and sweet then too, but are also good longer in stir fries.
I've added a photo of my little glass jar garden - From left to right there's alfalfa, lentils, broccoli and mung beans. The jars are from various things, like capers and salsa and plum sauce ;p
I'd love to hear how other people use their sprouts!