Written by Shannon of Nourishing Days.
As the temperatures drop we are tucking away our summer garden and filling our winter pantry. Winter squash and potatoes are stored away. Quarts of tomatoes and dehydrated vegetables line our pantry. And lacto-fermented vegetables are taking over my refrigerator. These foods will warm and nourish us all winter long (and hopefully save us some money too), but they are lacking the enzymes of fresh food.
To remedy this problem, last year I purchased a few varieties of sprouting seeds and read up on the various ways to use them. What I found was that it is really easy, inexpensive, and nourishing to keep your family in fresh sprouts without having to leave the comfort of your own kitchen.
The Basics of Sprouting
Sprouts are just the beginning growth of a seed. It really isn’t that much different than those first little pops of green that speckle the earth in your garden come spring. When you keep the seeds moist they begin to sprout and create tiny little plants. Whereas the seed would be difficult to digest, this new “sprout” turns into a nourishing plant food.
Sprouts provide enzymes, chlorophyll, nutrients, and a freshness that the normal fare of winter can’t supply. Plus it helps keep you out of the grocery store and away from out-of-season produce.
When you go to purchase seeds make sure that they are marked “sprouting” seeds and get them from a source you trust. I like to get mine from Mountain Rose Herbs, but finding them locally would be even better. Different seeds have different flavors once sprouted – radish sprouts will be spicy and fenugreek will faintly taste of maple syrup. So I make a mix of red clover, broccoli, fenugreek, and radish.
When I first looked into sprouting I discovered that I could spend a ton of money on fancy sprouting gadgets that would do it all for me. Sprouting for me is about saving money while adding nutrients to our diet, though, so I went with the simplest equipment necessary:
- a quart-sized canning jar
- a wide-mouth canning ring
- a sprouting screen
That’s it! The jars and rings I had plenty of in my kitchen. For the cost of seeds plus $2.25 I was growing vegetables in my own kitchen. I added a few sprouting screens to my loose leaf tea order and I was in business.
My Simple Sprouting Routine
I spent at least an hour reading multiple pages of sprouting tutorials that made it seem like you’d be in the kitchen forever. Not so. I spend two minutes per day for 3-5 days and I have fresh, cheap sprouts. This is how I do it:
1. Soak Sprout Seeds Overnight.
In the evening pour about 3 tablespoons of sprouting seeds into the bottom of your quart jar. Put the sprouting screen in place and screw on the canning ring. Pour about two cups of non-chlorinated water through the sprout screen. Swirl the seeds, drain, and then cover again with 2-4 cups of water. Place jar on your counter top until the morning.
2. Drain and Rinse Seeds.
The next morning dump the water out. Repeat the process of rinsing, swirling, and draining. Once drained very well place in a bowl that will allow the jar to lay upside down at a slight angle. I use a soup bowl with a 1 1/2 inch rim.
3. Continue Rinsing and Draining.
Two to three times per day you will want to pour water through screen, swirl, drain well, and place back in your bowl. Every day your sprouts will grow a bit more until they have filled your entire quart jar and started to turn green. This can take anywhere from 3-5 days.
4. Store Sprouts.
When you are satisfied with the length (and greenness) of your sprouts you are ready to store them in the refrigerator. At this point you want your sprouts to be as dry as possible, so make sure you are at the end of a drying cycle. Keeping them dry will stop their growth and slow down spoilage. Sprouts usually keep for up to five days.
5. Eat Sprouts.
Sprouts are great on sandwiches, mixed with greens as a salad, or even as a crunchy topping to soup.
Do you want to grow food in your kitchen?