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Making sprouts from seed -- how to begin

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1 Making sprouts from seed -- how to begin on Tue Jul 11, 2017 4:20 pm


Beth asked me a while back about growing your own sprouts.  We’ve really enjoyed doing this, as it’s nice having fresh sprouts on hand pretty much all the time.

Here’s a link to a place where you can buy the type of wide mouth sprouting lid that I bought; it fits any wide mouth canning jar, of which we have a lot of sizes.  You can also buy a quart jar along with the sprouting lid on this same site if you just search for “sprouts” using their search feature.  As you can see, it’s pretty cheap to get started, or you can buy more elaborate and expensive tray setups where you can grow more than one type of seed or seed mix at a time.

One thing I knew already is that you should always buy ORGANIC sprout seeds.  Some of you might remember back in 1999, there was a dire warning about a salmonella outbreak related to sprouts, and they were removed from store shelves in a bunch of states.  As it turned out, only one or two suppliers caused all the trouble, even though several health and agriculture departments really went overboard and told people to avoid sprouts in the grocery and in restaurants.  I read that this was the first time in memory that an entire industry was punished for one (perhaps 2) companies failing.  Basically, you are okay if you buy ORGANIC seeds.  I know there’s a lot of hoo-ha about the word “organic,” but I think organic sprout seeds are certified as organic in the industry ever since that scare.  

I also use one teaspoon of citric acid per quart of water of soaking AND rinsing water, just as insurance in case there’s any bacteria from dust or whatever in the seeds.  This is not really “necessary,” but I read that using citric acid will help prevent bacteria growth in sprouts as much as anything you can do as a topical application.  Since I’m growing them in a warm and humid environment, I figure it’s a no brainer and is certainly easy enough to do.  (I already had the citric acid on hand because I use it when canning tomatoes using the water bath method to raise the pH instead of lemon juice.) This shouldn’t scare anyone off by any means as there are also new recommendations for using an acidic bath for pre-treating foods for dehydrating to preventing potential bacteria growth.  It’s just an easy way to ensure that things remain healthy so I figure why not?

All you do to begin, which directions are usually on the packets of sprouting seeds I’ve purchased, is put about one Tablespoon in your jar along with water; some say use three times the amount of water, but I usually use enough water to almost fill the jar I’m using; to that water I add my teaspoon of citric acid.  You soak the seeds overnight and then in the morning, drain the water right through the top into the sink and then, leaving the top on, fill the jar with water again, swooshing it around the jar to rinse the seeds and then drain again.  Fill once more, add the citric acid, swish around and drain again.  When fully drained, just place the sprout jar in a bowl, tilting the sprout jar so excess water can drain out.  I usually add the citric acid to the final rinse only.  Then in about 8 hours (I do this before I go to bed for the night), you repeat the process, rinsing and draining twice.  Then in the morning, you do so again.  This goes on for anywhere from 3 to 6 days, depending on the type of seed you’re using.  Once the sprouts look “done” to your liking, or you’ve rinsed the amount of days suggested on your seed packet, make sure you place the rinsed and drained bowl with your jar of sprouts in an area where it gets indirect light.  It doesn’t need sunlight but just indirect light from a kitchen window is fine.  This will green up the sprouts.  Once they’re green, they’re ready to use.  I usually rinse them twice using the citric acid in each rinse and then try to drain as much water out of them as I can; you can also put them through a salad spinner like you use to dry lettuce if you want. I don’t usually do that but just make sure the jar is well drained (I shake it like crazy over the sink) prior to refrigerating.  

Only once did the seed mix “grow” so big that I had to change to a bigger jar – two times in fact.  I make sure I don’t put more than a Tablespoon of seed in each jar to start, as that’s about all the sprouts we can eat between the two of us.  

So far, I’ve used three types of seeds: (1) mung bean sprouts (these were covered with a dish towel while growing until they were ready to green up; they also took longer to grow into the size bean sprouts I’m used to seeing; you could green them up sooner if you wanted smaller bean sprouts. I think it was about 6 days until I began greening them up.); (2) Spicy Salad Mix (this was a delicious mix of lentils, alfalfa, red clover, radish and mustard seeds.  This is the seed mix we use most often, as it’s got a nice little bite to it and adds a lot to a sandwich or other use.); and another seed mix consisting of radish, clover and fenugreek seeds (this is the one that didn’t do a thing for the first couple of days, then exploded in size so much so that I transferred them once to a quart jar and then to a half-gallon jar! Next time I’m going to use less seed to start with).  
I recently found a super site for organic sprouts but you do have to buy a good deal of the seed (by the pound), more than I would like to purchase.  Wish I had a local friend into sprouts who I could split an order of some of these babies.  This place also sells some starter kits and samplers with smaller weights but they include so many types of seeds in the kits that they’re kind of pricey; and they have a couple of exotic, hard-to-find seeds that they sell in half- or quarter-pound bags.  They have a lot of useful info on their website, too, that you might find helpful or even fun to read:

We use the sprouts in salads and on sandwiches (usually in lieu of lettuce) as they make everything taste so darn fresh.  I’ve been searching for other uses, too, and see where people use them as the primary ingredient in salads and also stir fry them, both on their own and used as an addition to something you are stir frying.  People make peanut butter and sprout sandwiches; add them to soups as a garnish or an ingredient; add them to scrambled eggs or omelets right before serving; add to tuna fish salad or chicken salad; add to cream cheese for a cocktail spread; replace wild rice with rye sprouts in soups and rice combinations; add to dirty rice or fried rice; blend garbanzo bean sprouts, lemon juice, minced garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper into a thick paste chill and serve on crackers for a healthy snack; add to chopped meats for flavor enhancer and/or stretcher; add to smoothies, whether fruit or veggie smoothies; or just keep sprouts on hand and add them whenever you add herbs and spices to soups, main dishes and sauces.

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