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Sprouts

Amazon.com is a terrific source for certified organic seeds intended for home sprouting. Dress up salads, stir-fry, sandwiches, spreads, and other dishes with homegrown sprouts of all kinds. Follow this link to order your sampler or to find home sprouting kits.

 

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Sprout A Super Small Kitchen Garden

A wide-mouth pint canning jar, a band (or a rubber band), and seeds are all you need to start a very small kitchen garden in your kitchen.

I keep hearing from people who are doing spring planting in their small kitchen gardens. Folks on the US Pacific coast, down into the southwestern states, and across to the gulf states are either laying out garden beds or planting spring crops. Since hearing this makes my teeth grind at night, I’m starting an indoor gardening project that every cold-frustrated gardener can handle with minimal inconvenience: growing sprouts.

When I was a kid, bean sprouts were an amazing innovation acquired from Chinese cooking and popularized by people referred to as the crunchy granola set. Today, bean sprouts have become a minor subset of an expanding sprout-growing culture. Even in rather pedestrian grocery stores you can find bean sprouts, clover sprouts, alfalfa sprouts, and maybe even broccoli sprouts. In specialty grocery stores you might find a dozen types of sprouts.

Put three tablespoons of alfalfa seeds in a jar, rinse them thoroughly, then cover them with water and let them soak overnight. I used a chopstick to stir the seeds as I rinsed them; swirling might have worked as well.

More Winter Relief

Before spring, I anticipate no more escape from the cold of winter. So, I’m going to grow some sprouts. Sadly, I’m not a big fan of sprouts, but I trust that growing something fresh—anything I can eat—will help get me through the next seven weeks (whereupon we’ll talk about pruning and grafting apple and pear trees).

I’ve never grown my own sprouts, but I’ve seen it done. And, anticipating this urge, I bought a little bag of alfalfa seeds at a natural foods store about two months ago. Here’s how it’s going down:

To hold the cloth cover on your sprout jar, use a band designed to hold on a canning lid. Alternatively, a rubber band or an elastic hair band can do the job.

A Simple Small Kitchen Garden

I used a clean, one pint canning jar. I also used the lining from an old swimsuit that never quite fit me; it’s a tightly-woven elastic net that lets water through quickly, but retains even very small seeds. You can use nylon pantyhose or stockings, cheesecloth, or some other non-toxic material you find around the house.

Here is a sprout garden planted and ready to sit for 8 to 12 hours before its next rinsing. I’ve leaned the jar on a chopstick so residual water can drain away from the seeds.

I put about a half inch of seeds into the canning jar—that’s three tablespoons of seeds—and rinsed them four times. To rinse, I filled the jar two-thirds with water, stirred vigorously with a chopstick, then gently poured off as much water as possible without losing seeds. Finally, I filled the jar halfway with water, and set it in the middle of the dining room table.

The next morning I stretched the swimsuit liner across the top of the jar and held it in place with a canning band. I poured off the water and rinsed the seeds two or three times. Then I poured off all the water and left the seeds in a kitchen cabinet (where it’s dark). I’ll rinse the seeds again around noon, and pour off the water. Before I go to bed, I’ll repeat this rinse cycle… and I’ll go three times a day for four or five days. For the truly lazy gardener, I understand that rinsing only in the morning and the evening will work just fine.

Get a sampler of seeds certified for home sprout gardens. This set includes alfalfa, mung bean, broccoli, green lentil, clover, buckwheat, radish, and salad greens. Click here to get started today.

In four days I expect there will be healthy sprouts in the jar. I’ll set it in a south-facing window so the sprouts green up a bit, and I’ll keep rinsing for another day or two. Finally, I’ll either eat the sprouts, or put them in the refrigerator; they’ll keep for several days in the fridge until I’m ready to eat them.

You Go Too

Could this be easier? I don’t think so. Will it work? It worked for my crunchy granola friends in the 70s. Here are some important tidbits:

  • Many types of seeds will do. Try these: alfalfa, clover, broccoli, radish, mung beans, garbanzo beans, lettuce, spinach, peas. Different sprouts have distinctively different flavors.
  • Get seeds certified for home sprouting; apparently some seeds have come with salmonella, and people have gotten sick from eating raw sprouts. If you have any doubt about your seeds’ origins, you can still sprout them, but cook the sprouts before you eat them! There’s more information here.
  • If mold appears on your sprouts, don’t eat them. Mold is more likely to grow in a humid environment—which you create when you start sprouts. But in the dry winter air, there’s less likely to be mold spores drifting through. I’ll let you know if mold becomes a problem for me.
  • Use sprouts in salads, sandwiches, spreads, stir-fry, breads… be creative.

Growing sprouts is a simple project that takes very little space, so get started! I expect to set up a new batch of seeds every five-to-seven days at least until I can work in my outdoor garden. For the rest of the winter, sprouts will be my small kitchen garden. I’ll post an update in a few days with a picture of my alfalfa babies.

Here are links to other articles about growing sprouts:

  • Living Healthy Life: Growing Sprouts – You can take a whole array of expensive vitamin supplements and still not get the nutritional bbenefits/b that these very inexpensive additions to your diet will provide. b…/b. Read more: Living Healthy Life: Growing Sprouts.

  • » Joy of growing Sprouts and Microgreens – Joy of growing Sprouts and Microgreens. Search. Best viewed in Mozilla Firefox. Posted on October 4, 2008 at 2:28 pm. Joy of growing Sprouts and Microgreens. I LOVE to eat sprouts. More than that I love to SEE sprouts. …

  • The Easiest Vegetable Garden Anyone Can Grow Anywhere, Anytime! – … I think I may just need to go make another St. Jude’s tuna sandwich with my next batch of fresh broccoli sprouts! For additional reading:. Sprouts for Your Health; Risks Associated with Sprouts; Growing Sprouts for Your Health.

 

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5 Responses to “Sprout A Super Small Kitchen Garden”

  • Ditto everything you just said. We eat tons of sprouts here–mung bean, wheat berry, radish, broccoli. If you can’t grow a garden in January in Zone 7, eat sprouts.

    Robin Wedewer

  • Ray:

    One different way to use sprouts is for breakfast. Whip up an egg as if for an omelet, and make a disk from some of the sprouts. Dip the sprout disk in the eggs until it soaks up the egg. A thin wide disk is better as it helps the egg cook all the way through. Drop it into a lightly oiled frying pan. Flip it a few times until it is pretty well cooked; press down on it with a spatula to force out any uncooked egg so it cooks in the pan. When it is thoroughly cooked, top it with just thin sliver of some flavorful cheese like a good hard cheddar, and cover it until the cheese melts. It has a lot of flavor (more if your sprout mix is of the spicy variety or if you add some herbs to the egg scramble) and is actually pretty good for you. If you avoid egg yolks, you can do the same with just the egg whites.

  • admin:

    Robin: So far, growing sprouts has been amazingly satisfying. On the second morning (this morning), there are already little shoots sticking out of most of the seeds… I’ll be posting a photo and an update before I go to bed tonight. This winter may turn me into a sprout addict.

    Ray: Sounds great. From what I’ve read, people use sprouts in just about every dish imaginable. As an egg enthusiast (and possibly, a future caretaker of garden chickens), I like this egg-and-sprouts idea!

  • I start to feel the need for something fresh about this time of year too. Last year tried sprouting radish seeds (certified for sprouting) but had a hard time deciding if they were getting moldy or just developing root hairs. Finally gave up on the project and grew radishes in the cold frame instead. BTW, there’s a good Indian dish from Maharashtra that uses mung beans just barely sprouted – not at all as large as the ones used in East Asian cooking.

  • [...] canning jar with fresh, young sprouts for salads and breads (I wrote about the sprouts in Your Small Kitchen Garden [...]

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