Gardening, Winter Gardening

Kitchen Gardening 101: Growing Sprouts for a Healthier You

Growing your own sprouts is a lovely, easy form of gardening and growing your own food. With the added convenience of doing this right on your kitchen counter.

If you love the fresh crunchy-ness of a handful of sprouts sprinkled with a little sea salt, you are going to love this tutorial.

soybean, sprouts, soya
There is nothing like a handful of crunchy, spring-like goodness from your own jar of sprouts sprouts.

 

The best part about this is not having to run to the store to get said sprouts, which may or may not be as fresh as you like. Plus it saves you money as growing them yourself costs pennies in comparison to commercially grown options.

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The nutritional value of plain alfalfa sprouts is pretty phenomenal. A 100 grams of alfalfa sprouts can pack a punch in the trace elements and vitamin department, including some Vitamin C. This is one of the reasons I highly recommend having some packages of sprouting seeds in your pantry for emergency stock as well. That’s a whole workshop on its own, The Stock Your Pantry Workshop.

If you would like to see the nutritional breakdown of alfalfa sprouts from the US Department of Agriculture, you can access it here.

And the nutritional value of my beloved radish sprouts is even better! Here’s the link to check that out.

There are several things that make growing various types of sprouts so easy.

You need very little equipment. A couple of:

  • Wide-mouth mason jars
  • A couple of stainless steel rims and screens and ideally stands for them. Your jars and seeds will drain better on an angle then straight up and down as they grow.
  • Sprouting seeds
  • A drip tray for them to drain on
  • Fresh potable water to rinse them at least twice a day.

You don’t need:

  • Dirt
  • Light
  • Fertilizer
  • You don’t have to weed

Be sure to:

  • Practice cleanliness – keep your hands properly washed as you would handling any food
  • Have clean equipment – make sure your jars, rings, and screens are scrubbed clean with hot soapy water in between uses, and a simple disinfecting with a kettle of boiling water to sanitize keeps bacteria from growing
  • Clean water – your water needs to be clean, drinkable water. Remember, you are not normally cooking these, they are fresh. If your water is not sanitary you can get sick.  You must use a potable water source for rinsing and growing.
  • Rinse your seeds twice a day with cold water. You can do it more often, but twice for sure. 
  • Keep them in a cooler spot if you can. You will find they are crunchier, last longer, and you won’t have problems with them starting to deteriorate too quickly. I have a corner space on my kitchen counter where it’s quite cool, and they do very well. Some people like to keep them out of the way under their kitchen sink, as they don’t need light to sprout. This is fine, if you are the kind of person that will remember them and keep them rinsed regularly. I don’t use under the sink as it is ‘out of site, out of mind’, for me. I just kill them off under there, so there is no point. The counter it is!

That’s the basics!

I purchased the set of 2 rings, 2 stands, and stainless steel screens for a couple of wide-mouth mason jars a few years back on Amazon, and they are still going strong. You can get them here.

At the time I got mine, for only a couple of dollars less than they are now, it did not include the jars or the blackout sleeves. The sleeves are important if you like crispy white sprouts, as one might want for traditional bean sprouts in Asian cuisine.

Now for the seeds you’re going to grow.

The amount of bulk sprouting seeds you can buy are almost unlimited. You can have legumes for protein, wheat grass or quinoa for super vitamins, alfalfa sprouts, or one of my favorites, radish sprouts. They are a little spicy, and if you like peppery flavor, these should definitely be on your list.

Sprouting seeds are not seed stock for planting, although they might work for that. You should keep in mind these are mass-produced for the sprouting market and are not screened for any growing issues like diseases or genetics. Sprouting seeds are produced for consumption. They are also produced for the highest sprouting rate as no one wants to waste their seeds.

My suggestion is, to get a mix of different blends to keep things interesting. I love salad blends, legume blends, and pretty much any other option out there.

 

Does this save you money on your grocery bill as well, you might very well ask? Yes indeed it does. A half dozen packets like this costs around $40, give or take, depending on the type of seeds. Each packet gives me many times over what a single package of  from the store will give me, and the quality is better. So instead of paying just under $5 for a container of alfalfa sprouts, I pay around $8 for a package of seeds and get multiple harvests for the winter. I hope that makes sense.

I would love to see what you end up getting for your sprouting setup. You are always welcome to email me at gardens@magical-herbgarden.com and let me know how things are going with your sprouts and garden.

 

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