When I was a child, I remember my mom growing sprouts in our kitchen. I have always loved sprouts, and I was happy to discover that my children also liked them. I quickly realized that I should be growing my own sprouts!
There are so many great reasons to grow your own sprouts. It is convenient to grow them right in your own kitchen. It is more cost effective and eco-friendly than driving to the store and purchasing commercially grown sprouts. Commercially grown sprouts have also been associated with some bacterial contamination (like salmonella), which although is a very low risk, can be better avoided by caring for your own sprouts. And sprouts are nutritious – they have been grown for over 5,000 years!
Sprouts come in many varieties. Popular seeds that are often found that the grocery store include alfalfa, broccoli or clover. You can also sprout different kinds of legumes (lentils, chick peas, etc), grains (such as wheatgrass or barley), and micro-greens (such as cabbage or arugula).
Beet sprouts! Aren’t they pretty?
Alfalfa is a good introduction to sprouting, has a mild flavor, and it is generally easier to find than other varieties. You can find so many different kinds of seeds as well as blends of seeds, each of which has their own set of instructions. If you can’t find sprouts at a local health food store or garden center, check online. You may want to try smaller quantities of seeds to see which you like best, before committing to buying a larger bag.
You will also need a sprouting device. This can be something like a tray system or bag, or as simple as lids that you use on a canning jar. I use a glass Ball canning jar, and a set of lids with various mesh sizes. You can also trying simply using a bowl, as long as you can adequately drain the seeds.
~ For your first step, soak the seeds for 8-12 hours. 2 tablespoons of seeds will yield about 4 cups of sprouts – just remember that each type of seed varies.
~ Rinse and drain well. Continue to rinse every 8-12 hours. The water from rinsing the seeds are full of nutrients, and great for watering houseplants! Keep the alfalfa seeds in indirect light.
~ The seeds will begin to sprout quickly – you should see some growth within a day or two.
~Within about 5-6 days, your sprouts will be turning dark green and are almost ready to eat! At this point, you can move the sprouts so that they get more light (indirect), to help them “green up”.
~ Store your sprouts in the refrigerator about 8-12 hours after the last rinse. You can rinse the sprouts in a bowl to remove hulls (as they will rise to the surface), but it is not necessary. Make sure the sprouts are well-drained and reasonably dry, and then place in a bag or other sealed container, otherwise they will dry out.
Sprouting is a great activity for children to participate in. Since sprouts grow so quickly, it is a teaching tool to show kids the process of growing. My kids like a toasted pita pocket or toasted bread with some mayonnaise and sprouts.
Sprouts are a very versatile food – you can make sandwiches, salads, and so much more with sprouts.