For a couple of years now, I’ve been thinking about starting my own vegetable garden. I’d have pole beans and sugar snap peas, cherry tomatoes and big heirloom brandywines, some kale, maybe a few varieties of summer squash…you know, a garden of biblical envy. Of course, all of this would mean having a yard of my own, and that for the time being really is a fantasy.
Up until last week, I was mostly content to buy my vegetables at the farmers’ market and to daydream in class about growing my own. I didn’t exactly see myself coaxing beans to climb up my radiator or turning my desk drawers into seedbeds. But then my friend Kim sent me home with a mixed bag of seeds for sprouting.
So, I’m not exactly growing fabulous vegetables amid my library loans, but I am sprouting my very own greens with little more than a mason jar, some cheesecloth, and a few tablespoons of seeds and lentils. It’s pretty exciting. I just harvested my first batch today, and I’ve got a different mix of green and beluga lentils sitting on my bookshelf now. I’m amazed by how simple it’s been.
The Basics of Sprouting
- Have a sterilised 1-litre mason jar ready, fill it with one or two tablespoons of lentils or some other sproutable seed/bean. Add two or three times their volume in water, cover the jar with a square of cheesecloth, and fasten with an elastic band. Let the seeds sit and soak for 8-12 hours. Drain the water then rinse by filling the jar with more water and swirling the seeds around. Drain into the sink again and leave the jar propped up at a 45-degree angle to drain some more – this allows the seeds to breathe and stay moist without sitting in excess water.
- Rinse two or three times a day, always leaving the jar to drain between rinses.
- In 3-6 days, the sprouts will have grown to a few centimetres or more. They are ready for eating! Just give them a final rinse and remove them from the jar.
- If storing the sprouts in the fridge, let them sit out to dry for 8 hours or so before putting them in a zip-lock bag.
If you’re looking for more detailed information, I found sproutpeople.net to be particularly instructive. You can also order sprouts and more sophisticated equipment from them, but that seems a little extravagant to me. You should be adequately equipped with a mason jar and some cheesecloth. But do check to make sure that the seeds/beans you plan to use do in fact produce edible sprouts. Some varieties, like kidney beans, are toxic.
As for the sprouts that are edible (lentil, mung bean, chickpea, radish, broccoli, alfalfa, etc.), you’ll be happy to know that they’re very nutritious, even more so than the original seeds/beans. The sprouting process makes their nutrients more readily available for digestion.
My only problem now is figuring out how I’m going to eat them…
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