Bring gardening indoors by growing sprouts

Growing sprouts is a great way to get fresh food in the winter.

SAFETY NOTE: Sprouts are not considered safe for pregnant women. Speak with your healthcare provider if you have any questions about sprout safety. 

For about seven years, a bag of seed sprouting mix sat untouched in my fridge. The seeds somehow survived a house move and countless fridge cleanings. I didn’t have the heart to throw them out, and figured I’d get around to using them eventually. The other day, I found myself looking out over the dark winter landscape and realized that I had to grow something right now. Something bursting with aliveness that could put me back in touch with the garden during its long sleep. I grabbed a mason jar, got the seeds out of the fridge, and immersed them in fresh water. Amazingly, they came back to life. That’s why I love seeds. You can neglect them for years, but they’re still alive, waiting to nourish you. I could see them growing day by day and connect with their germination process in a way that really isn’t practical when I’m out in the field. Now, I plan to include sprouting in my gardening practice.

Sprouts are high in protein. They cost almost nothing. You don’t need any special equipment to grow them. And they’re a great way to use up the extra tablespoon of dried mung beans that’s left over from the recipe you made one time and is now languishing guiltily at the back of your pantry.

Home-grown sprouts

  • Seeds for sprouting: safe choices include specialty seed-sprouting mixes, or dried mung beans, lentils or chickpeas from the grocery store.
  • A clean glass jar or cup
  • A sturdy bowl
  • Cheesecloth (I didn’t have any cheesecloth handy, so I cut piece from a thin, small dish towel)
  • A rubber band. 

Just put a tablespoon of seeds into the jar and soak them in water overnight. Cut your cheesecloth into a small square and secure it around the mouth of the jar with a rubber band. In the morning, put the jar inside the bowl, lean it so that any excess water can drain out, and leave it like that. Rinse the seeds once per day, and serve them once little “tails” emerge (2-3 days in most cases). You can eat them raw, or steam them first. If you can’t eat your sprouts right away, put them in the fridge to slow their growth and buy yourself a day or two.

The serving possibilities for sprouted seeds are endless (with salad being the obvious choice), but here’s my favourite: try serving them over brown rice with a drizzling of tamari and toasted sesame oil, a sprinkling of gomashio, chopped green onions and a pile of greens. It’s a high protein treat that tastes amazing any time of year.

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