When the cold winter wind howls outside and our gardens are fast asleep, gardeners may still crave crisp, fresh greens. You can satisfy those cravings by growing your own sprouts. All you need is a wide-mouth glass jar and some seeds, and you can be putting fresh greens on your table all year round.
To grow your own sprouts, you need to start with good quality seeds. Always purchase untreated seeds for sprouting. Do not buy the little packets of seeds sold in racks at the hardware store as these have often been treated with chemicals to prevent fungus. Instead, look for untreated or organic seeds that are offered by many seed catalogs these days, or buy organic beans and seeds at the local health food store. If you’re lucky, you’ll find seeds sold especially for sprouting.
Start by sprouting a small amount of seeds until you determine how many sprouts you will eat in a week. A quarter cup of seeds generally yields about two cups of sprouts.
Place your seeds in a wide-mouth glass jar, then cover the seeds with water and allow them to soak overnight or about eight hours. This will begin to soften the seeds and help them to germinate. Once they are soaked, skim off any seeds that are floating because floating seeds generally don’t sprout.
Cover the jar with a fine mesh screen or several layers of cheesecloth and strain off as much of the soaking water as you can. Then give the jar a shake to evenly distribute the seeds within it.
With the mesh or cheesecloth still over the mouth of the jar, place the jar on its side within a bowl or on a plate, keeping it tipped at a slight angle so any excess water can safely drip out. Keep the jar out of direct sunlight but in a place where it will receive bright light, unless you are sprouting mung beans. Mung bean sprouts need to be kept in the dark or they will become bitter.
Rinse the sprouting seeds twice a day by filling the jar with water, swirling it around a bit, and draining off the water. Within four to six days, the sprouts will be ready to eat.
Store the sprouts in the refrigerator within their sprouting jar. Replace the mesh screen or cheesecloth with the jar’s original lid. Your homegrown sprouts can remain fresh for a week if stored properly in the refrigerator.