Gardens - Fruit & Vegetable Gardening

Harvest your own sprouts

Stephen Westcott-Gratton

Head to your kitchen, not your grocer, for a bounty of healthful sprouts all winter long

Sprouting secrets

Some seed packaged expressly for sprouting will indicate how much is needed to produce 100 grams of sprouts. The seed-to-sprout ratio can differ substantially—anywhere from 1.5 to 8.5 units of sprouts or more per one unit of seed—so follow directions carefully and make sure your jar is large enough to accommodate all the sprouts while still leaving room for good air circulation. As a rule, begin with 1 tbsp. (15 mL) of seeds for small varieties such as alfalfa and radish, 2 to 3 tbsp. (30 to 45 mL) for medium ones such as lentil, and up to 4 tbsp. (60 mL) for large seeds such as beans and peas.

Put seeds into jar and position screening over opening, using an elastic band to hold the covering in place. Fill jar one-third full with warm (about 40˚C) water and swirl seeds around for a minute or so. With the covering in place, drain water. Refill jar one-third full with cool water and let seeds soak for four to eight hours.

Next, begin daily regimen of rinsing seeds three times a day at roughly eight-hour intervals. Drain and refill jar with cool water, swirl seeds for about 30 seconds and drain again. Then, invert jar so screening is at the bottom and rest it at a 45-degree angle in the bowl. Place on the kitchen counter out of direct light (place bean shoots in complete darkness, as they often taste sweeter when they’re grown this way). Repeat this process for three to five days.

You can start to harvest your sprouts once they’re three to five centimetres long. Rinse and drain them thoroughly, place in an airtight container and refrigerate immediately; they should remain fresh for up to five days.

Practice safe sprouting

There have been many reports in the media about E. coli and salmonella contamination associated with eating raw or lightly cooked sprouts. Scientists agree the likeliest culprit is seed that has come into contact with bacterial pathogens and then sprouted. That is why it’s essential to use organically grown seed intended for sprouting; this seed has been handled under stringent guidelines and has been treated as a food crop from start to finish. Seed that has been chemically treated with fungicides or that is intended for growing vegetables outdoors should never be used for sprouting. For more information, visit the Canadian Food Inspection Agency’s website.


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