Sprouts are a great way to add flavour and texture to salads, soups, sandwiches and snacks. They are also a great source of nutrients and vitamins, so why not grow them yourself? Well, before you start, there are a few things you need to consider. I hope these tips are useful, and inspire you to start your own sprouts!
- Do you need fancy equipment?
- No! I use glass jars that I close with cheesecloth. I find that jars are easy to use, simple to store and also cheap. You can always buy fancy, specialized multi-level “sprouters”, but really, a jar is all you need to get started.
- Will it take time?
- Sprouts need attention: you will need to wash them twice a day while they are sprouting to avoid parasites or molds, but also to supply the seeds with their required moisture. Also, the sprouting time will depend on the seeds you are using, but generally speaking, sprouts take about a week to be done.
- What seeds can I use?
- There is a great variety of sprouting seeds available in health food stores and online. I buy mine in a bulk store. I usually go for unmixed bags, but you can try out already made mixes of seeds to get you started and to give you an idea of what seeds you like best. My favourites are alfalfa, daikon, radish, watercress, chickpeas, lentils and fennel.
- Are all seeds the same when it comes to sprouting?
- No! Each seed is different. First, the bigger the seed, the longer it will take it to start sprouting. Also, some seeds are mucilaginous (like watercress, chia seeds, and flax seeds), so you’ll have to take some precautions while sprouting them. Finally, all sprouts have a different flavour and texture, so it is super fun to experiment and explore cooking with these new ingredients.
- How do I sprout seeds?
- For non-mucilaginous seeds like daikon, chickpeas, lentils and fennel, place two tablespoons of seeds in a jar and let soak in water overnight. Rinse, drain and place in the jar that you keep in a tilted position. I usually use my plate dryer rack to keep my jars stay at an angle. This will help give more seeds access to air and light. Close the jar using a few layers of cheesecloth: the idea is to make sure that air passes, but not insects. Rinse and drain delicately twice a day for a week, or until the sprout is out. You can eat the sprouts when they are just out, or wait for the first leaves (cotyledon) to come out. You can also place your seeds in the sun for the last few days, and they will develop a little green.
- For mucilaginous seeds like radish and watercress, place one tablespoon of seeds and one tablespoon of alfalfa seeds in the jar. I like using alfalfa seeds because they have a very mild flavour that lets the other seed’s flavour shine. Their role in this sprouting is to absorb the water that constitute the mucilage which will help the seed start sprouting. The rest of the process is the same as mentioned above.
- How do I keep these once they are sprouted?
- I usually keep mine in an airtight container in the fridge. They’ll keep for about a week.
- Where can I use them in recipes?
I hope these tips are helpful and will encourage you to grow your own sprouts. They make for a really fun kitchen project with kids, and also add some life to your cooking. Let me know if you try it out, or what your favourite seeds are!