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I’ve never been one of those people with a green thumb. In fact, I’ve tried for years to grow several different herbs and plants and the end result is always the same. DEATH. It doesn’t matter how low maintenance it is or how resilient it is. Eventually, I will kill it and kill it good! Ever the determined nutritionist, I never give up. I’m always looking for easy herbs and edible plants I can grow at home to add nutrients and flavor to my meals. If I can grow it long enough to eat it, I don’t mind so much that I’ll eventually kill it.
I mean, you gotta work with what ya got! Am I right?
When I first learned you could grow your own sprouts at home I was super excited! I had no idea if would be easy enough for this black thumb of death, but I wanted to give it a try and so should you. I love using sprouts in all sort of recipes! They’re really tasty on salads, especially if you sprout the zestier flavored radish and broccoli seeds. You can freeze them and mix them in to smoothies for added nutrition or even put them in sandwiches, wraps, spring rolls and much more.
They’re actually pretty hard to find at most of my local grocers. I’ve seen them at the local mexican grocer and at stores like whole foods and sprouts (figures), but they’re also pricey. Not to mention, the risk of foodborne illness is fairly high. It’s actually not recommended that high risk individuals or people with weakened immune systems such as pregnant women, children, or the elderly eat raw, store-bought sprouts due to foodborne illnesses like E. Coli, Salmonella, and Listeria.
Growing them at home gives me peace of mind that I can reduce contamination while following proper safety and sanitation guidelines.
“After growing sprouts at home myself, I’m confident that you too can grow these tasty nutritious greens with ease!”
Before you begin you’re going to need a few items:
A container for sprouting – I used two wide mouth mason jars purchased on sale for $2.00 at Hobby Lobby.
Mesh sprouting lids – I purchased this kit that also came with stands. (More on that later).
Sprouting seeds – I used the Zesty Sprouting Mix by Now Foods.
Lastly, a cool, clean, and dry place to grow your sprouts that’s out of direct sunlight such as a kitchen counter or bar.
To begin, you will want to scoop two tablespoons of the sprouting seed mix into the mason jars. If you’re using the 32 oz wide-mouth mason jars like I did, two tablespoons of fully grown sprouts will fit perfectly. If you’d prefer to use less, one tablespoon will fill the jar about half way when grown, but you’ll definitely need a bigger container for anything more than two tablespoons.
Next, soak your seeds in water overnight (or around 8 hours). You want to be sure you add enough water to completely cover the seeds.
The following day, drain all the water from your jar, give the seeds a good rinse, and set your jar upside down at an angle to keep the seeds from holding excess water. This is where those stands come in handy! You can set your jars right on the stands or, if you don’t have them, in a bowl to prop them up at an angle or just set them against your counter wall. You really just want to be sure the mesh lids at the bottom have room to drain out water throughout the day and keep air flowing in the jar. This is going to be an essential step in the process. Excessive water will encourage mold growth on your sprouts. Be sure you are draining them properly and storing the jar upside down in a cool dry place. I set my jars on the kitchen counter, under the window everyday.
You will want to drain and rinse your seeds twice a day to keep them from drying out and growing bacteria and mold. I found that it was easiest for me to rinse them once in the morning when I left for work and then again at night after dinner. It only took about four days for my sprouts to grow completely. On the fourth day, I set my jars in the kitchen window for a few hours to let them get a little sunlight. This encourages photosynthesis and creates those delicious tiny green leaves. You want to avoid putting your sprouting jars in direct sunlight or in warm areas like outdoors or warm windows. Moisture and warmth are breeding grounds for bacteria! If you’re unsure if your growing bacteria or mold, give your sprouts touch and a sniff before you rinse them. They should feel dry and textured and smell earthy, like dirt or plants. If they begin to feel slimey or you begin to smell something foul, like perhaps a fart (yum!)…toss them out, thoroughly wash the jar with soap and water, and begin again.
Priscilla is Dallas/Ft. Worth based nutritionist and blogger.
Growing times will vary a day or two depending on your conditions and the seeds you’re sprouting. Typically, you should have ready to eat sprouts in 3-5 days. When you’re ready to harvest, just give the sprouts one last rinse and pour them out onto a paper towel, pat dry, and let them sit for an hour or two or until they feel completely dry to the touch. You can store them in the fridge for up to a week either in the mason jar or another refrigerator safe container. Then, just toss them into salads or wraps when you’re ready to eat. You can also freeze them in a ziplock bag for up to 30 days and add them to smoothies, soups, or cooked meals.
TIP: Frozen sprouts will lose their texture and crunch so be sure to use them in a way that is palatable.
This has by far been my best experience in growing plants! Sprouts are so easy to grow and it only takes a few days before you have something delicious and nutritious to eat. I hope you’re brave enough to give it a try too. I can’t wait to experiment with more varieties and find creative ways to incorporate them into my meals.
Be sure to share your experiences in the comments below as well as any helpful tips you may have!