This Saturday we had a great workshop on how to grow sprouts at home. Shelley Skedden from the East Coast Family Market, AKA Blois Family Farms, was on hand to teach us the ins and outs of growing your own greens throughout the cool months when fresh veggies are hard to come by.
Here are the steps to successful (and safe) sprout growing:
Theoretically, any seeds or legumes can be sprouted, but you don`t know where those seeds have been! One of the participants familiar with the industrial food chain reminded us that commercial seed is often scooped up from the ground in warehouses with front end loaders. For example – just because some lentils are safe to cook and eat, doesn`t mean that they`ll be safe to consume raw in a sprouted form. Organically certified sprouting seed will have been tested to ensure it`s free from salmonella and other toxins that are very harmful to your health. Shelley couldn`t stress this point enough: Buy Certified Seed!
2. Keep things CLEAN
The basic tools you need for sprouting is some mesh fabric, and a jar or a sprouting tray. Make sure everything is really clean by washing them in a mild bleach solution. You also want to make sure you`re using clean water: those of us living in the city don`t need to worry about municipal water, but if you live in a rural area with well water, you will need to use bottled water if you don`t have a purification system that will kill any stray bacteria.
Soak your seeds for 2-6 hours. If you`re using a glass jar, soak your seeds in the jar and place your mesh fabric over the top and keep it in place with a rubber band. Shelley suggests using bridal veil fabric which is pretty cheap at fabric stores, and comes in different mesh widths which is handy for large and smaller seeds. After the soak time, you can dump the jar over to drain in a bowl or in the sink at a 45 degree angle.
4. Add water, swish, rinse, repeat.
Twice a day for the next 4-7 days, you`ll want to pour a bit of water into your jar, swish it around to make sure your seeds are all nice and wet, and then dump the jar and drain it at a 45 degree angle. Keep the jar out of direct sunlight, and keep it at an upside down angle in the hours between rinsing. After a day or two you`ll notice the seeds starting to grow.
Some people get discouraged about sprouting because they think their sprouts have gone moldy, but Shelley reminded us that some sprouts just have really fuzzy roots. The daikon sprouts in the picture to the right looked like they were full of white fuzzy mold, but they were just the thirsty roots spreading out. As long as you leave your sprouts draining at an angle so air can come into the jar, it will be unlikely that you`ll grow mold, especially in winter and spring when your house is still quite cool.
5. When they look tasty enough to eat, eat em!
There`s no strict rule on when sprouts are ready to eat. Some people like them when they`re still small and crunchy, and other people like them to grow a little longer. Try shaking some out of the jar at different stages of growth to see how you like them best.
Lots of people like eating sprouts on top of their salads, but we shared our favourite ways to eat them: sprouts and hummus sandwiches, sprinkled on scrambled eggs, and even mixed in with mashed potatoes or spaghetti sauce. At the end of the workshop, we enjoyed them in a lovely mixed sprout salad with a sweet vinaigrette, which was an absolutely lovely way to enjoy the different flavours of the mung bean, fenugreek, lentil, and broccoli sprouts.