February 11, 2009

Growing in our

Kitchen Garden:


Fun and easy to grow, sprouts provide good nutritional value at a more-than-reasonable cost. Perfect for greening mid-winter salads and sandwiches.

Why grow sprouts? They are incredibly rich in nutrients, cheap, quick, and easy to grow (no sun, no soil needed) right in your kitchen (great project for the kids), sprouts are low in calories, and they are very versatile. In salads and sandwiches of course but also in breads, stir fry and many other Asian recipes. Broccoli sprouts offer dynamite nutrition while radish sprouts add real zing, and onion, cabbage and pea sprouts are terrific in stir fry. Caveat: Just as with any food, don't go overboard on sprouts. It is possible to eat too much of these good things leading to possible nutritional deficiencies, but honestly, I think you'd have to be totally nuts to consume the amounts that could case this effect.

What kind of sprouts to grow?? I think you'll be surprised at what's available for spouting seeds, far beyond the alfalfa, mung, radish and broccoli that may come right to mind. You can certainly find a good selection of sprouting seeds at your local health food store, but I buy most of my seeds including those for sprouting from Pinetree Garden Seeds in New Gloucester Maine. I would caution you not to use just any old garden seed to sprout to be sure you avoid treated seed. Pinetree offers 16 individual seeds and mixes for sprouting. Their salad, sandwich, stir fry and munching mixes are excellent. I would caution you not to use just any old garden seed for sprouting to avoid the possiblility of using treated seed.

How to grow sprouts. Couldn't be easier! When I first started I used quart canning jars with cheesecloth over the top held on by an elastic band. You can buy three different mesh-size plastic lids to use with canning jars for various size sprouting seeds, and you can also use stackable tray sprouters which I use for growing large amounts of mung beans.

To grow sprouts, start small! A TBSP of alfalfa seed may yield a cup to a cup and a half of sprouts! Rinse seeds in a strainer or colander - some seed such as that alfalfa is tiny - picking out any that look off-color, etc. Put the rinsed seeds is a nice clean jar (I use 1-quart wide-mouth jars), cover the seeds with a few inches of warmish water and let set on countertop overnight. Little bits of chaff and such will float to the top, easy to remove.

Next, drain the seeds thoroughly then rinse them with cool water, swishing well. Drain again, set jar on its side and jiggle somewhat to spread out the seeds, put in a dark cupboard, and there they grow! Rinse and drain daily and start enjoying your greens in just a few days for some varieties, 4-5 days for some of the larger ones.

I like to keep several kinds growing on a rotating basis... YUM!

We've been blessed this winter to have a number of deer who visit us daily to partake of the apples we're delighted to share with them.

I just love seeing them!


Cindy in Falmouth said...

You've inspired me! I'm going to pick up some seeds in Portland today after my walk around Back Cove!

Alice Goldsmith said...

I never thought of doing sprouts. I sure will try it. Never too old to learn,
Wishing you well on your plan for the hike.
The friend you never met. Alice Goldsmith

KimT said...

cool deer.

Frugal Chicago Girl said...

Sounds like a great idea that I definitely want to try. Where do you buy your seeds?