Sprouts are versatile little plants you can add to bread, salads, and sandwiches; they offer a range of tastes from subtle to even spicy; and they can keep your glucose levels low. They can be an acquired texture in a meal (with some being stringy or crunchy) but the wide variety of sprouts allows you to be selective. And once you have selected, you can actually grow them easily in your own kitchen — all you need is a jar and some cheesecloth.
Here’s how to grow your own sprouts for salads and sandwiches.
Why you should grow your own sprouts
The addition of sprouts to a meal adds moisture, texture, and nutrients like folate, manganese, fibre, and vitamins C, A, and K. However, there are some risks involved in eating sprouts: Raw sprouts (and some sautéed sprouts) can contain dangerous bacterias like E. coli and salmonella. The warm, humid environment in which sprouts are grown breeds bacterias that can cause food poisoning and severe illness.
Growing sprouts at home can actually reduce the chances of harbouring and contracting E. coli or other harmful bacteria. However, the risks are still there, so vegan cooking site Hello Veggie recommends washing your hands when handling sprouts, keeping them refrigerated, and tossing them if they smell weird or get slimy. Food and health site Eat Right also recommends rinsing sprouts before eating and, to significantly reduce risk, cook them in stir-fries, soups, and stews to further kill any bacteria.
Sprout varieties to consider growing
The most popular sprouts are mung bean sprouts, which are thick, crunchy, and juicy — almost like they are full of water. Another options is alfalfa sprouts, which are stringy with tiny green leaves on top and have a mil taste but give texture and nutritional value to your sandwiches or salads.
In addition, broccoli, radish, and lentil sprouts are also recommended for home growth. These seeds have varying textures and flavours, but best of all, they grow fast: You’ll be ready to enjoy them within two to six days of germination.
How to grow sprouts in a mason jar
Now that you’ve decided to grow your own sprouts (congratulations!), there are a few steps you’ll need to take to sprouting the seeds. Keep in mind that not all sprouts grow the same way or at the same rate; for catered growing instructions by variety, we suggest visiting the seeding site Sprout People, which offers details on how to grow every type of sprout you can imagine.
To carry out the basic steps for growing sprouts, though, you’ll need:
- A mason jar
- Some cheesecloth
- A rubberband
- The sprout seeds of your choice
First, fill a mason jar (one with a wide mouth is preferable) with one to two tablespoons of seeds. Then, pour two inches of warm water over the seeds and let them sit overnight. After the first night, take your cheesecloth and wrap it around the mouth of the jar, securing it with the rubber band. You’ll then drain the water out of the jar, and pour in new water to rinse the seeds. Swish the water around and then drain them once again. For easier rinsing and draining, you might want to spring for a sprouting jar lid for about $10, but it’s not necessary.
Keep the seeds covered and continue this process every eight to 12 hours until the sprouts reach the desired size. Hello Veggie suggests keeping the jar in a dark place for a few days, and then place it in indirect sunlight for optimal growth. Once the sprouts have filled the jar to your liking, rinse them thoroughly, and they’re ready to eat.
Make sure to store your sprouts in a covered container in the fridge at all times to avoid any dangerous bacteria.