Sprouts are the green vegetable that gets us through the winter. They are easy to grow (with no sunlight!), affordable, nutritious, and aren’t shipped in from Chile. We use them like lettuce as side salads and on sandwiches and we savor their unique taste on buttered toast. All kinds of sprouts are tasty, but alfalfa is a great place to start.
What you need:
Start with seeds that are intended for sprouting, not just growing. This is because you will eat the seed, not just the plant, so you want food safe seeds. Find seeds online (sproutpeople.org has tons of seeds and info), at food co-ops, and sometimes in your grocery store.
Use a clean glass jar in the quart size range. Canning jar, spaghetti sauce jar, ect. You don’t need a lid, but if you have a canning jar ring that fits that’s a bonus. The wider the mouth of the jar the easier time you’ll have getting the finished sprouts out.
You’re looking for something you can put over the top of your jar that will allow water to flow out, but keep the sprout seeds in. A piece of cheesecloth or tulle works great. Double up those net bags that garlic sometimes comes in.
If you don’t have a canning jar ring, then you’re want a rubber band to hold the straining cloth on the jar. Just stretch the cloth over the jar mouth and rubber band it around the top.
Growing sprouts involves lots of rinsing with water. You are rinsing off some toxins, so don’t drink the water, but you can use the rinse water to water your plants.
What you do:
Put 1 TBS of alfalfa seeds into a clean glass jar. Cover the seeds by 2 inches with tepid water. Secure your straining cloth over the top of the jar. Let soak for 8-12 hours.
Pour out the soaking water and refill the jar halfway with cool water. Swirl the seeds around to rinse, stop for a moment to let the seeds settle to the bottom, then pour off the water. With the last dribble of water, try to distribute the seeds around the surfaces of the jar instead of letting them all ball up at the mouth. Set the jar on its side somewhere you’ll remember it. The seeds don’t need light, but do need a little air circulation, so don’t tuck them away in a cabinet. Rinse your seeds every morning and evening. In the next 2 days the seeds will extend little white shoots.
After about 5 days your jar will be packed full of sprouts with little leaves. If your jar isn’t full yet, go ahead and keep rinsing morning and evening for another couple days to let the sprouts get a little bigger. Set your jar on the windowsill for the last day to green up the leaves. Eat up! Either continue rinsing your sprouts until they’re all eaten or put them in the refrigerator in a closed container.