Growing sprouts

Growing sprouts is a simple process. For small quantities, special equipment is not needed. First, wash and dry a standard sized canning jar and its accompanying metal ring. Next, place two tablespoons of rinsed seeds into the canning jar and cover with water. The water should be at least twice the depth of the seeds. Non-chlorinated water works best, but city tap water will do. Cover the jar’s opening with a piece of cheese cloth or stretched nylon mesh (a piece of pantyhose works fine) and secure with the jar’s metal ring. Place the jar in dark location, for 6 – 8 hours at room temperature (65 – 75 F).

Next, pour the water out through the mesh top. Rinse and drain the seeds while still in the jar, and return the jar to its dark location. Continue rinsing and draining the sprouts at least twice a day. This process prevents the sprouts from fermenting or molding. In two to three days, the seeds will begin to germinate.

Within the next two to five days, the sprouts will reach their desired length. The desired length will vary from seed to seed. For most sprouts, including alfalfa, garbanzo and soybean, 1″ – 1 1/2″ is a good length. Yet for others, including lentil, millet and barley, a 1/4″ or less is preferred. Experimenting is the best way to find the length that is right for you. If the sprouts taste bitter, they grew too long.

Just before the sprouts reach the desired length, place the jar in a well lit room. Within a day, the tips of the sprouts will turn green. Next take the sprouts out of the jar and wash them thoroughly. Make sure the seed coats, if not already discarded by the daily rinses, were removed in the washing. The sprouts are now ready to eat.

If you aren’t planing on eating the sprouts immediately, place them in the refrigerator in a sealed container. The cool air prevents the sprouts from further growth. And, they will keep for one to two weeks.

Rich in vitamins and low on calories, sprouts are often used in health food dishes. But that doesn’t mean they are low on flavor. Sprouts are a tasty addition to salads, sandwiches and pitas. Add them to egg and cheese omelets. Try them in tacos, on pizza and in stir-frys. To keep a steady supply of sprouts on hand, prepare a new jar of sprout seeds the same day you place the mature sprouts in the refrigerator.

On a long winter’s night cozying up to a warm bowl of tomato soup is comforting. It’s especially comforting when the soup is toped with a fresh mix of alfalfa and radish sprouts. Sprouts, grown in doors at room temperature, are undoubtedly the perfect winter vegetable.

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