Recently, a friend of mine invited me to attend a “Sprouting 101” class with her and, although I wasn’t sure if I wanted to get into growing sprouts, I couldn’t pass up on an afternoon with a friend. So, yesterday afternoon I was learning all about sprouting.
Before I get into what I learned I will say that my internal dialogue about whether or not to sprout goes something like this:
- Cons: another thing to think about and remember to do
- Cons: will we eat it? Or will it get tossed out?
- Cons: will my picky-eater enjoy them?
- Pros: my friend had given me some radish sprouts and I put them on sandwiches- my picky-eater liked it
- Pros: I think of RadicalFarmerGal and her blog about sprouting – and how it provides fresh greens in winter
The two “pros” thoughts are strong incentives, but I am still not convinced that I can/will do it.
So.. back to the “Sprouting 101” class. Going in with no real goals or expectations, as it was more of a social outing than an educational one, I was still ready to pick up pointers and “convincers” that may sway me “to the dark side”. Coming out of the class, I realized that I had more questions than answers and still was not enticed to become a sprouter but thought I’d give it a try. I’ve tried so many other things over the past few years (the pressure canner for one), why not sprouting? I might like it. So, I came home with some radish seeds (because we had had them before and we liked them) and broccoli seeds (because of the nutritional value of broccoli). … and I came home with questions.
The answers that I got from the class were, well, this: Soak, drain, rinse, repeat. … and I saw that you could use the sprouts to make little biscuits or some dried crumblies that my friend and I thought would be tasty on top of a salad or pasta. Oh, and why sprouts in the first place? Because they are packed with more nutrients than you will ever get from a fully-grown plant. The questions I got were: why go from a jar to a tray? Why plant some in dirt instead of leaving them in the tray? Why would you put them in cheap plastic (risking toxin transfer) – especially if you were being health-conscious? Why? Why? Why?
My friend, who knows me well, was not surprised apparently by the numerous emails she received last night, as I shared information that I found while doing some research as soon as I got home.
First, let’s start with what I learned at the class
- get a large, wide-mouth glass jar, some cheesecloth or equivalent material, and an elastic
- soak about 1 tbsp of the seeds in the jar 3/4 full of water (covered with the cloth). The time required for soaking varies, depending on the seeds. Some, 3 hours; some 6 and some not at all
- drain the water by tilting the jar and letting the water drain through the cheesecloth)
- set the jar on a 45 degree angle (or thereabouts) and let it sit to continue draining and to let air in
- two or three times a day rinse and drain the seeds
- after about three days transfer the seeds to a seed tray for continued growth, or eat, or put in the fridge
- you can also use soil but that, I think, would be “Sprouts 201”
Now to my research:
I found a site that told me about the pros and cons of just using a glass jar for the entire sprouting process (LINK)
- it’s cheap; it’s easy
- drainage and air flow to all the sprouts is not the best
The facilitator of the class suggested that sprouts started in a jar should be transferred to a tray so that they get better air circulation and it is easier to rinse (and you can just rinse the roots and avoid getting water on the leaves and potential mould)… ok and are there other reasons? Why would you want to go to the extra work when the jar does the job? Well.. back to the internet and part II of the link above focused on trays (LINK)
- better circulation
- more room required and a greenhouse of sorts to help keep the roots moist << work/attention
On the same website there was a third and ultimate method—a method that was a secret unless you purchased the DVD and book. Really??!!! OK.. back to researching I go and I find out that the secret method is one that indigenous people have been using for generations and it is not a secret – they readily share the method.
- soak seeds overnight
- place seeds in a dish towel that you have soaked and wrung out (and wrap the ends of the cloth together)
- place seeds/cloth inside a non-clear container with a lid and cover it (to simulate being under ground)
- leave them a couple of days, checking on them to make sure the cloth is damp (spritz as needed)
- no need to rinse/drain
- and in a couple of days you have sprouts.
And then I read a little more and discovered the “sprout bag” – the rather expensive sprout bag ($12+) – and thought that the tea towel would be a whole lot cheaper and as effective. The process with the sprout bag is a mix of the mysterious non-secret secret process above and the process I learned in the Sprouts 101 class:
- soak the seeds in the bag overnight
- rinse and then hang the bag (with container below to catch water)
- do the rinsing process 2-3 times a day
Such a simple process …. and yet so many options
My Sprouting Experience: Part I
A version of the sprout bag. (Blog to follow).
My next experiment will the the non-secret-secret method that the indigenous people use and stuff the seeds/bag into a jar and let it sit. I will then compare the two methods to see which gets the best sprouts and, more importantly, which is the easiest and/or most enjoyable for me. ‘Cause if it ain’t fun, then it ain’t going to happen!”
-- - Debbie, SW Ontario Canada (USDA Hardiness Zone: 5a)