Sprouts: The Easiest, Most Nutritious Countertop Garden!
The Easiest, Most Nutritious, Countertop Garden – Sprouts!
Although I enjoy sprouts all year long, this is my favourite time for sprouting. My garden-fresh vegetables are either gone or in my freezer – still tasty and nutritious, just not quite the same level of deliciousness – but the memory of them won’t yet allow me to settle for supermarket mediocrity.
Sprouting seeds gives me access to the fresh, bright, “green” flavour I crave. Sprouts are fantastic in sandwiches, wraps, salads, soups, or even smoothies. They are also tiny powerhouses of nutrition. One would never try to live solely on sprouts but they are amazing supplements to a healthy diet. Sprouts, as a general category, are a good source of Vitamin C, protein and fibre with the added benefits of B vitamins, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium and zinc. One cup servings of specific varieties may offer differing concentrations of beneficial nutrients:
> Alfalfa sprouts - 1 g. of protein, 11 mg. calcium plus small amounts of phosphorus, potassium, folate, and Vitamins A, C, and K.
> Mung bean sprouts - 144 mg. potassium
> Clover sprouts – 20 mg. calcium
The simplicity of sprouting means that anyone, anywhere, can enjoy fresh home-grown greens. Begin with simple containers, seeds, a small area of your counter, and a couple minutes twice each day. You can buy sprouting trays, or you can simply use any wide mouth jar covered with cheesecloth (both work well), but my favourite is a sprouting lid which I purchased at the local Peavey Mart. It is a screw-on lid with mesh insert which fits a canning jar. I have used seeds bought from the bulk bin stores and even some from the grocery store – mung beans, lentils – but I usually purchase seeds intended for sprouting. I have tried many types – alfalfa, broccoli, radish, sunflower – but my current choice is a blend of radish, alfalfa, clover and mustard sold under the name of Sandwich Blend (by Sprout Master). I use hydrogen peroxide and drain well between rinses to prevent the growth of “bad” bacteria.
The technique is so simple that it actually takes far longer to explain than it will ever take for you to actually do it!
1. Measure 1 – 2 Tbsp. of seed into a jar. Add 1 Tbsp. hydrogen peroxide and fill with cool water. Allow the seeds to soak 12 – 24 hours. You will soon know whether you need to adjust the amount of seed depending on how long it takes your household to eat them but err on the side of not enough rather than too much so you don’t end up tossing out sprouts that are wilted or spoiled.
2. Next day, start with a clean sprouting jar or tray (and clean hands). Drain the water from the soaked seeds, rinse with fresh water, and drain again. Prop jar on a very slight angle so water drains cleanly. (I usually leave it lying on its side on the ledge of my sink with the bottom propped up on a folded dishcloth.)
3. Repeat the rinse and drain, morning and night until the sprouts have grown as long as you want them. You may want to add a little hydrogen peroxide to the rinse on day 3. If you prefer a little more greenery, place the jar in a sunny location for the last day or so.
4. After several days, it is time to “harvest”. Give the seeds a good rinse in fresh, cool water but this time, before draining you will want to swish them around and allow the hulls to float to the surface so they can be skimmed off. These hulls will not hurt you but they could become breeding grounds for bacteria growth if not eaten within a day or two.
5. After this final rinse, allow the sprouts to drain well for several hours. Coarser sprouts such as bean sprouts may even be tough enough for a salad spinner. Once they are dry, place them in a container in the refrigerator and they should remain fresh for several days. (It is probably a good idea to get another batch of seeds soaking now!)