Sprouts: a few tips

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!

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From left to right: radish, buckwheat, alfalfa.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. Where can I use them in recipes?
    • EVERYWHERE!

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!

Simple Fruit Leather

I really hate to throw away food. When I see that the produce I bought is getting old and will go bad soon, I try to transform it to extend its life to avoid waste. I have to say, however, that meal planing reduces and often eliminates waste as you are only buying what you need. Still, sometimes, fruits or vegetables get forgotten in a corner. This is what happened to two wonderful prunes this week.

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I few hours later, my two wrinkled prunes were transformed into a magnificent fruit leather that is eaten and not wasted. Cheers to that!

Here is what you need:

  • 2 prunes (or any other fruit that is getting old or very ripe: pears, bananas, apples, oranges, etc..)
  • 2 tbs ground almonds (optional but makes it more filling; use one table spoon per cup of fruit)
  • 2 tbs lemon juice (optional but helps reduce browning)

Here is what you do:

  1. Peel and pit your fruit. This makes your fruit leather smoother.
  2. In a food processor or blender, puree your fruit and ground almonds until smooth. If you are using fruits that have the tendency to brown (bananas, apples, pears for example) you can add a few tablespoons of lemon juice.
  3. On a lined cookie sheet or on your dehydrator mat covered with silicone paper, spread the pureed fruit evenly. Tap a few times to remove bubbles.
  4. If you are using a dehydrator, set to 145F or 60C and let sit for 4 to 8 hours depending on the thickness. If you are using your regular oven, set on the lowest temperature and keep the oven door open for 4 to 6 hours, checking often to avoid burning.
  5. Once dried up, cut the leather into strips, roll and store in an air-tight container.

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This is really super simple and so delicious! It makes for a great healthy, sugar-free snack that can easily be taken with you anywhere. You can also make it your own by adding nuts or seeds to the mix, or by combining different fruits. the texture of this is similar to fruit roll-ups without being overly sweet or filled with artificial coloring. And really, the hardest part of this recipe is to wait for it to be ready!

Let me know what you favourite fruit is for this or what you do with your not-so-fresh-anymore produce to avoid waste. And if you are looking for a dehydrator, I bought an Excalibur a few years ago, and it’s perfect! If you are in Canada, you can check out Upaya Naturals: that’s where I got mine, and the shipping was super quick.

 

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