Sprouts for Starters

By Diane Ziomek

I don’t know about you, but I like quick results when I’m trying something new.

If you’re just getting started with indoor gardening sprouts are the way to go. They’re easy to grow, are ready in a matter of days and are so tasty.

I took a Sprouts Workshop about a year and a half ago and was quite surprised at how easy it really is. We were taught how to use basic supplies that most people already have in the kitchen which was nice. There really isn’t any need to buy special equipment or sprouting kits, although there are several available on the market.

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Before I get started on the process itself, I have a few tips:

1. Use organic seeds. The first thing you want to make sure of is the seeds you’re sprouting and ingesting are organic. Your local health food store should have a seed selection such as Mumm’s Sprouting Seeds. I ordered a package from Amazon because they are the same as the ones I bought when I took the workshop. The germination rate was almost one hundred percent and they were tasty.

2. Use a wide mouthed mason jar or other wide topped container. This makes getting the sprouts out of the jar or container much easier.

3. Sterilize your jars as you would for canning. The last thing you want is mold growing in your sprouts. Yuck! A cycle through the dishwasher is a good way to sterilize them, as is boiling them in a pot of water for a few minutes.

4. Use distilled or filtered water. Chlorine in municipal water isn’t the healthiest choice. Plus I don’t imagine it will make your sprouts taste good. I have used spring water we get from a local water bottling company with excellent results.

5. Use food-grade screen or a fine plastic mesh. It’s important to have food-grade accessories to eliminate the possibility of contamination. Cheesecloth works well for larger seeds, but you may wish to use a tighter mesh for the little seeds like alfalfa.

For a successful sprouting experience, follow these easy steps.

1. Get your supplies ready. Gather your jars/containers, seeds, water and screen. Having everything handy will make the process much simpler.

2. Measure out your seeds. It’s important to follow this measurement fairly accurately, as each type of seed requires a different amount for the same size jar/container. Read the package directions to find out the recommendation.

3. Put the seeds in the jar. Sprinkle the seeds into the jar using a measuring spoon.

4. Cover. Cover the jar with the screen or cheesecloth and secure with a jar ring or rubber band.

5. Add warm water. Your seeds will soak up the water quicker if you use warm water as opposed to ice cold. Be careful to not pour hot water in the jar though, or you’ll kill your seeds. Tepid water is best. Add enough to cover the seeds as per package directions. You don’t need to fill your jar as you will be dumping the excess water out.

6. Let them soak. After an hour or so you should notice your seeds expanding. The time required varies based on the seed type so your package directions will come in handy.

7. Drain the water. After the suggested time has elapsed, drain the water. I found leaving my jar at a forty-five-degree angle for a half hour or so gives it plenty of time to drain. You don’t need excess water in your jar or your seeds won’t do well.

8. Lay the jar on its side. To ensure proper air circulation lay the jar on its side out of direct sunlight.

9. Rinse and repeat. Rinse your sprouts morning and evening to ensure they don’t dry out. Within a few days you should notice them sprouting and beginning to grow. Some seeds germinate quicker than others, so it’s important to keep like seeds together. For example, don’t mix mung beans with alfalfa because the germination rates are different.

10. Enjoy. By the time a week has gone by you should be able to enjoy your sprouts in a salad, on your sandwich or as a stand-alone snack.

Not only is growing your own sprouts a quick way to enjoy fresh greens, it’s healthy and economical. And with the price of fresh produce always on the rise, what better way to cut down on your grocery bill. Plus, you’ll know exactly what was done to them. You’ll be eating them in their prime, which isn’t something that happens when you buy sprouts in the grocery store.

This plastic mesh works well for tiny seeds like alfalfa.
This was the lid and metal screen I bought at the workshop.
This is the plastic ring and metal screen on a small jar. I had a hard time getting the ring off the jar.
Using a metal jar ring with the screen is much easier to put on and take off.

Have you ever grown sprouts?

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