Something's Sprouting in the Kitchen
By Anne L. Desjardins
Imagine planting a garden in your kitchen, and then being able to harvest your crop within days. If you're into sprouts and greens, it's possible and it's relatively easy. Walk into the produce section of a whole food store or a supermarket and you're likely to see an impressive assortment of sprout and green products: bean, beet, broccoli, mustard, radish… The possibilities are nearly endless and the cost, very reasonable compared to the top dollars that you will pay for ready to eat sprouts at your favorite food store.
You'll soon realize that, with just a little effort, you can do it yourself for a fraction of the cost. Finding the seeds and the base material you'll need to start your own micro garden is easy: you can buy them at many health food stores, or you can order online through the internet. The important thing to remember is to buy top-quality, organic seeds for safe growing.
The difference between sprouts and greens
A sprout is a germinated seed that has just begun its growth and whose leaves have not yet formed completely. Sprouts are produced in water: the seeds are usually soaked for a day and then rinsed in water several times a day for a few days and kept in low light conditions until they are ready. Some of the most common varieties of sprouts include bean, alfalfa, lentil, sunflower and cress.
On the other hand, greens, or micro-greens are actually planted in soil or a soil substitute. They grow best under high light conditions and can take a week or two (or even more) before they are ready to harvest. When they are ready, they are cut above the soil surface without any roots. The most common varieties of greens are beet, chard, cilantro, mustard, parsley and radish.
When a seed sprouts, it triggers a series of metabolic systems. Its sugar content is transformed into vitamin C and synthesizes a variety of new enzymes. Pound for pound, sprouts are richer in vitamin C than the fully-grown plants they would eventually become.
Sprouts are said to have the highest concentration of phytonutrients per calorie of any food. They carry vitamins, minerals, proteins antioxidants and enzymes. They are easily digested and assimilated and they add great flavor to a salad or a sandwich!
Going with greens
- It's easy to start growing sprouts. You'll need a wide-mouth jar, a screen and a ring to screw onto the jar, securing the screen.
- Soak a measured amount of organic seeds with room temperature water (3 parts water to 1 part seed) for 8 to 12 hours.
- With the screen in place, drain off all the water. Rinse off with fresh water and drain again. Place the jar at an angle, allowing air to circulate and excess water to drain.
- You should rinse and drain the seeds completely 2 or 3 times a day with cool clean water.
- When the sprouts are ready, rinse one last time then allow to drain for at least 4 hours before placing in the fridge.
- Store your sprouts as you would lettuce: wrapped in a damp paper towel in a covered container in the fridge.
How to serve them sprouts and greens:
- Growing greens is a little more work and takes a little more time. But they're amazingly good and the result is worth the effort.
- Soak the organic seeds for 12 to 24 hours.
- Place the seeds in tight rows on top of about 3 cm of your growing medium (soil or soil substitute).
- Cover the container with a transparent cover (or plastic wrap). When the seeds begin to grow, remove the cover or wrap and place them on a windowsill in full sunlight.
- Keep the soil humid.
- When they are ready to harvest, pull a clump out like a little bouquet, holding them at the stem. Cut above the root with scissors. You can rinse them and eat them right away, or store your greens as you would lettuce: wrapped in a damp paper towel in a covered container in the fridge.
Create all sorts of salads, sprinkle in a sandwich, a burger, folded in an omelet or a crepe, over a bowl of rice or chili. You can also add those delicacies to your favorite recipe of granola, porridge or muesli, with some toasted nuts. Trust me: it's good… It is also delicious with a chilled soup such as gazpacho, cucumber or carrot.