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Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Sprouting: Easiest & Tastiest Use of a Quart Jar

Sprouts always seem to get mixed publicity.  On one hand, they are tasty, nutritious and an excellent culinary addition to sandwiches, salads and more.  On the other hand, they are notorious for causing food-borne illness such as salmonella, listeria and other pathogens.  In fact, due to this risk, many food chains have removed them from their menu offerings.  There is a way to enjoy these low-calorie, nutrient rich sandwich toppers without risking your health: sprout at home! Sprouting at home puts you in the drivers seat so you can make sure nothing else contaminates the sprouts on your salad. With very little investment of either money or time, you can be enjoying sprouts with no food safety worries.  It only takes about 5-6 days for most sprouts from start to sandwich.  

To start sprouting, here's what you need and how to do it:

  1. A wide mouth quart jar with a screw on ring, cheesecloth, and sprouting seeds.  You want to use seeds specific for sprouting and not just any seeds from your garden store.  The reason is that seeds designed for planting may be coated with chemicals designed to improve germination that you don't want on your sandwich.  Radish sprouts are my favorite, but I also enjoy broccoli sprouts, alfalfa and I'm dying to try basil sprouts.  There are oodles of choices when it comes to sprout varieties. Search online or check your local whole-foods market for sprouting seeds.
  2. Step two is rinsing and soaking.  Add a couple tablespoons of seeds to your jar and fill with a couple inches of water.  Follow your package instructions as it may vary from seed to seed variety.  For radish sprouts I only had to soak them for 4-6 hours ( you can soak them overnight).
  3. Next, cut a square of a few layers of cheese cloth.  This becomes the lid to your jar that allows you to drain and rinse your seeds as they are sprouting.  Screw the ring over the cheesecloth and drain the water out from your seed soak.  
  4. Cover your jar.  You don't want sunlight entering the scene just yet.  Let those cute little seeds work their magic in the dark by covering them with a dishtowel or cloth.  Wait . . . for a while at least before you move on to the next step.
  5. 2-3 times a day you will want to rinse your seeds/sprouts.  Keep the cheesecloth on and just run water through the cheese cloth - 1/2 cup or so is plenty.  Swish those babies around a bit, then pour out the water.  Yes, this is why you want that cheesecloth barrier.  After rinsing, cover the jar and wait some more.  Truly a couple times a day - morning and evening is sufficient for rinsing.  
  6. After a day or so, you'll start seeing some exciting action in that humble jar.  Just keep up the twice-a-day rinsing.
  7. About day 4 or 5 you'll notice that your sprouts have started shedding the seed coats and that there are little leaflets.  Yes, contain your excitement, you're almost done.  
  8. When your sprouts have mostly filled your jar, started to leaf out and shed their seed coats, dump them into a bowl and fill it with water.  The seed coats will float to the top and you can skim them off.  
  9. Drain the sprouts and put them in a plastic zip-top bag.  Place this somewhere sunny for a day as this will allow the sprouts to green up by finally getting some sun!  A day in a windowsill or normally sunny room is plenty of time for them to make all that yummy and nutritious chlorophyll.  
  10. Rinse them again.  I like to put a paper towel in the bag at this point just to keep them from going bad to quickly in my fridge.  Keep them in an airtight bag or container in your fridge.  They will last for at least a week if you make sure to rinse them once a day and replace that paper towel.  You'll probably want to not even put that jar away.  Instead you can start another sprouting batch to keep you in good sprout supply.  

  11. Final step - eat, devour, enjoy, savor, whatever term you like for gobbling up all that safe, sprouty goodness!

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