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Sprouts and Microgreens

December 16, 2013

 

With the cold temperatures and snow-covered ground, the days of outdoor gardening for this year are past. But while waiting for the ground to thaw again, there is still an easy way to keep growing edibles inside: sprouts and microgreens!

Radish seeds harvested as microgreens

Radish seeds harvested as microgreens

Sprouts are simply seeds started just to the point of germination and eaten whole. Microgreens are grown to one stage further, and stems and leaves are eaten just after the first set of leaves develop on the plant. Both pack a powerful nutritional punch, showing higher concentrated vitamin levels than their full-grown counterparts. They are particularly high in Vitamins C, E, and A, as well as fiber and protein.

Sprouts and microgreens are both easy to grow at home indoors, although they require different methods. While you can find both in grocery stores these days, as with any home-grown vegetable, you control the growing conditions so you know they are not exposed to pollutants, and ensure good quality soil. Microgreens can be grown in any shallow container, recycled ones work great! For more on growing microgreens, check out our pervious blog post.

Sprouts are grown in water, without soil. There are various types of containers sold for sprouting, but you can just as easily make a container of your own. Just about any glass jar will work, fitted with a top for draining the small seeds. You can use a rubber band to attach cheesecloth to the top, or use any type of mesh. The photo shows using a canning jar with a piece of plastic canvas cut to fit the top, which you can find at craft stores for about 50 cents per sheet.

A quart jar can be turned into a sprouter with either cheese cloth or plastic canvas (pictured). Alfalfa seeds are in the measuring cup to the left.

A quart jar can be turned into a sprouter with either cheese cloth or plastic canvas (pictured). Alfalfa seeds are in the measuring cup to the left.

To ensure healthy sprouts without contamination, it’s important to use organic seeds when sprouting at home. You can even buy seeds sold specifically for sprouting- check in health food stores, and online. Some popular varieties to try: radish, arugula, broccoli, alfalfa, and salad greens. Once you have your jar and seeds, follow these steps to grow sprouts at home:

1. Measure 1-3 Tablespoons of seeds into your container, depending on how many you will eat in several days.

2. Add enough water to your jar to cover the seeds, and let them soak for 6-12 hours, or overnight.

3. After soaking, drain water from the seeds. You want the seeds to stay moist but not wet, so it works well to keep your jar upside-down in a bowl. Sprouts will grow under ordinary indoor lighting, so keep the jar on a counter or wherever you have space.

4. Rinse the seeds 2 times a day, about every 8 hours. Fill your jar with water to cover the seeds, swirl the jar to make sure all seeds are wetted, then drain.

5. Sprouts are ready to eat when you see little green leaves appear, after 3-7 days depending on the variety. Dry your sprouts on a towel, place in a bag or container with a dry paper towel (to keep them from getting too wet), and store in the refrigerator.

6. Eat the sprouts within 1-3 days for best results, before they dry or start to turn brown.
That’s it! Enjoy your sprouts on sandwiches, add to salads, scrambled eggs, smoothies, or anything else you think of. Try growing sprouts or microgreens, and enjoy fresh, healthy, home-grown food all winter long!

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