One way to get fresh, nutritious plant-based food during the winter is to grow your own sprouts. This is something that we used to do routinely, but we let it fall out of use in our household for a while with all the moving around that we’ve done. These little nutrient factories are an excellent source of goodness grown right on the counter top with no soil, and no mess.
There are entire books and websites written on the subject that go in depth about the exact nutrient make up of each kind of sprout, so I won’t go into that right now. There are two reasons I’m starting sprouting again: 1. We were healthier when we were eating sprouts before, and 2. they add a great taste to whatever we use them with. My two go-to sprouts, and the easiest ones, are alfalfa and mung bean.
Alfalfa is a cool, watery, fresh tasting sprout that we love to eat just by itself when we grow a lot of it. Some of our friends’ kids have sat down and eaten an entire 3 oz bag to themselves. It adds a healthy dressing to a bologna sandwich for school, and it looks great scattered on a salad.
Mung bean is crunchy and has a sharp taste. We use it for sandwiches, wraps, salad, and stir fry. I will from time to time eat a few just out of the container, because I love the taste.
The process is simple. You put some sprouting seeds in a jar, usually 2 tbsp in a 1 L jar. That should be enough for 1-2 meals for a family. Next you add water for the seeds to soak, which starts the growth. The soak time depends on the size and type of seeds. Large seeds like mung bean, fenugreek, and lentils get 8-12 hours. Usually I would soak them overnight. Alfalfa, mustard, clover, and brassicas get 1-2 hours, as we don’t want to drown them. Radish will get 4 hours. Once the soaking is done, put a specially made lid on the jar, or cover with a secured mesh small enough to hold the seeds in the jar. Drain the water, and leave the jar inverted to allow excess water to drain throughout the day. Over the next 4-5 days I rinse, swirl, and drain twice a day.
When the sprouts are ready, put them in an airtight container in the fridge. If you don’t get to using all of it I have had it last up to a week in good condition in the fridge, but most of the time if you do a small batch it won’t last long.
Note: do not rinse the sprouts right before you package them into the fridge, they will be too wet. I used to rinse the night before, and package in the morning by dumping the sprouts on a clean paper towel on the counter, then putting them in the fridge. In the bottom of the container I put a piece of paper towel to trap any residual moisture. I used to do large batches, so I would store the left overs for a few days, it keeps the counter from filling with jars.
Note 2: Only use seeds that are meant for sprouting, as they have been cleaned and are safe for human consumption.