Fresh greens from the garden or market may still be several weeks off, but there is one way to get a little homegrown veggie goodness in a matter of days: sprouts. The crisp, curly, sometimes leafy tendrils are a cinch to grow on the kitchen counter, whether you cultivate them in a specially designed sprouter or follow our simple canning jar instructions. Heck, even farmers are getting in on the act: assorted packaged varieties are cropping up all over, and for good reason, as the recipes on the following pages show.
What You'll Need
â?¢Â organic sprout seeds or beans (available at natural food stores)
â?¢Â 1-qt. canning jar
â?¢Â rubber band
1. Place seeds or beans in bottom of jar, filling no more than one-quarter full. Cover with water, and let stand 5 hours or overnight, depending on type of seed.
2. Drain water from seeds or beans, and rinse. Cover top of jar with cheesevloth secured with a rubber band. Set in a warm spot that gets indirect sunlight.
3. Pour cool water through cheesecloth to rinse seeds or beans once a day. Drain off excess water through cheesecloth—the seeds or beans should be damp but never sit in water. Seeds or beans will begin to sprout in 3 to 5 days. Once they've sprouted, store in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
Which sprout suits you best?
Alfalfa, clover quinoa Wispy and sweet with a delicate crunch
Arugula, radish, broccoli, leek, mustard, fenugreek Tiny and tender with a peppery bite
Dried beans, peas, lentilos, chickpeas Crunchy, chewy, with a bean-like quality
Pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds Slighty nutty and crunchy
Barley, buckwheat Starchy and slightly sweet
Mean, Green Sprouting Machines
Do-it-yourself sprouting doesn't require special equipment, but the following options make it easier to tailor the yield to your needs.
What it is: Modeled on the glass jar technique, this plastic container has a base to catch extra rinse water, an insert for smaller seeds, and lids designed for travel and storage.
Best for: Small-batch sprouting that's foolproof even in hot, humid weather.
One to try: Sproutpeople Easy Sprout, $13.85; sproutpeople.com
What it is: A set of nesting plastic trays with holes to allow you to moisten sprouts by pouring water over the top.
Best for: Producing small quantities of different types of large-seed sprouts—smaller varieties, such as alfalfa, can get stuck in the draining holes.
One to try: Biosta Kitchen Crop Sprouter, $32.95; westcoastseeds.com
Hemp bag sprouter
What it is: A small sack made of hemp fabric that's tied at the top and hung to drain.
Best for: Growing bean sprouts that stay pale and tender and sprouting small seeds such as broccoli and alfalfa.
One to try: Sproutman's 100% Natural Hemp Sprout Bag, $12.95; sproutman.com
What it is: A plastic single-tier box with a divider and a drainage tray. Spouting trays can be stacked to save space.
Best for: Serious sprouters who want to cultivate and eat a large variety of sprouts.
One to try: The Sprout House Sprout Master Single Tray Sprouter, $13.95; sprouthouse.com