Growing Organic Sprouts for a Burst of Winter Greens
You can’t beat the flavor of a fresh and verdant homegrown salad in the midst of winter. All it takes is a mason jar, a sprouting lid, water, and seed . . . and a little bit of time and care. Whether you choose to use a sprouting tray or this mason jar method, growing sprouts is easy and well worth the effort.
There are countless varieties of seeds to sprout, but Alfalfa and Mung Beans are among the few that are great for the novice sprouter. Whichever varieties you should choose to sprout, there are a few simple rules to follow for great success. First, be sure to purchase seed that is sold specifically for sprouting. This way you can be certain that the seeds have been handled in a sanitary manner and do not have any seed coatings, since you will be eating the seed as well as its sprout.
Next, place approximately 2 Tbsp of seed into a clean mason jar (more than that can result in overcrowding and can lead to mold). Fill your jar with warm water to rinse the seed, drain (using your sprouting lid) and refill, covering the seed with about an inch of water. Throughout the process of sprouting, it is important to cover your jar with a cloth, such as muslin or a towel, to keep out light and dust, but allowing air to flow.
The timing of the process will depend widely on the temperature of your home. In cooler temps, sprouts grow slower, and vice versa. Soak the seed for about 12 hours in a warm location. Rinse with warm water and drain your sprouts 2-3 times daily, for the next few days. Some sprout experts suggest repeating the rinsing process twice each time. You want to keep the seed moist, but not soaked. Store the jar on its side to help spread out the seeds, allowing maximum airflow to the most seeds possible. After the sprouts have shed their hulls (some varieties have hulls, while others do not), place them in a bowl of water. Hulls will either sink or float for easy removal.
Once grown to their desired maturity, it is time to green up your sprouts on the windowsill. First, rinse and drain as previously done, but this time place your jar in a bright spot, out of direct sunlight, to encourage the chlorophyll and carotene to develop. This process takes about a day. (Not all varieties require greening up. Refer to your seed packet for specific varietal instructions.) At the end of the day, rinse with cool water, drain in a colander, but don’t let them dry out. Sprouts are best when eaten immediately, but you can store them in the refrigerator in an airtight container for 4-5 days, rinsing each day.
Enjoy experimenting with our family favorite recipe for sprouts, which combines a mixture of our preferred sprout varieties (we like red clover, alfalfa, and Mung bean combo). Mix with chopped apples, currants, minced red onion, and chopped and toasted walnuts. Top with a blend of balsamic vinegar, mayonnaise, and a dash of maple syrup. Tastes delicious and packs a nutritional punch!!