Throughout the world there are seasons when fresh greens from the garden or market may not be available. Most of us in North America depend on fresh produce that is transported across half a continent. Though we may garden in the summer, winter stops all but the most dedicated, or most southern, gardeners. But there is one way to get a little homegrown veggie goodness in a matter of days: sprouts! The crisp, curly, sometimes leafy tendrils are a cinch to grow on the kitchen counter.
Home sprouting can supply delicious fresh food, without the environmental drawbacks of the Mega-farm produced fresh produce, and at a fraction of the cost. Sprouting at home takes only a few seconds a day and can produce a good part of your daily requirements of the nutrients you need from fresh produce. The hassles are minor, the costs are low, and the freshness is wonderful. If you can supply a jar, some screen or netting, and rinse the sprouts twice a day, you can grow delicious organic sprouts in four to six days.
Sprouts are very inexpensive (even when organic), always fresh (they grow until you chew them) and have the potential to help solve hunger and malnutrition problems in our communities and in developing countries, because they are so rich in nutrients, affordable, and easy to transport before sprouting. Sprouts are precious in winter, when the quality of fresh fruits and vegetables is declining as their price increases. In addition to providing the greatest amount of nutrients, sprouts deliver them in a form that is easily digested and assimilated.
Many seeds can be sprouted, but some sprouts cannot be eaten raw. The most commonly sprouted seeds include:
- Pulses (pea family):alfalfa, fenugreek, mung bean, lentil, pea, chickpea, soybean
- Cereals: wheat, maize (corn), rice, barley, rye, kamut and then quinoa, amaranth and buckwheat (these last three are used as cereal even if botanically they are not)
- Oilseeds: sesame, sunflower, almond, hazelnut, linseed
- Vegetables and herbs:broccoli, carrot, spinach, cabbage, celery, fennel, onion, parsley, radish, turnip, leek, watercress, mustard, rocket (arugula), lemon grass, lettuce, clover, mizuna (Japanese mustard), milk thistle
What you’ll need:
- organic sprout seeds or beans
- 1–quart canning jar
- cheesecloth or screen
- rubber band
Place seeds or beans in bottom of jar, filling no more than one-quarter full. Cover with water, and let stand five hours or overnight, depending on type of seed.
Drain water from seeds or beans and rinse. Cover top of jar with cheesecloth or screen secured with a rubber band. Set in a warm spot that gets indirect sunlight.
Pour cool water through the cheesecloth or screen to rinse seeds or beans twice a day. Drain off excess water through cheesecloth—the seeds or beans will begin to sprout in three to five days. Once they’ve sprouted, store in the refrigerator for up to one week.