Ask Linnea: Sprouts

Q: How do I get started sprouting?

Sprouting is the name for starting edible seed. Sprouts are a highly economical way to add variety and nutrients to your vegetable intake. It is easy to sprout edible seed in your own kitchen with minimum equipment and space. We sell glass jars with screened lids in the bulk herb section, as well as seed marked ‘suitable for sprouting’ – organic seed tested for salmonella and e-coli contamination.

Sanitize your container with boiling water and remember that seed and sprouts should never come into contact with manure or food scraps that may have bacterial contamination. Hands and equipment must be clean at all times, and the water you use for rinsing should be potable (safe to drink).

The screen top on a glass sprouting jar facilitates rinsing. Sprouts need humid (not wet) conditions, good air circulation, a steady temperature of 65-75 degrees, and eventually some light for greening (never direct sunlight).

Place enough seed in the jar to cover the sides and bottom, remembering that they will expand as the sprouts grow. Break up clumps of seed by hand, and wash well with cold water; pour off the water and repeat until water is clean. Soak seeds for 5-8 hours in cool water, covering the jar loosely for ventilation. Drain, repeat the step above, pour off the water, and leave the jar facing downwards in a dark place.

Rinse the sprouts at least 3 times a day with cold water. On the third day, remove any seed hulls and hard seed from the jar. You can skim off the seed hulls when the seeds are in water, as they float to the top. On this day many fast sprouting seeds will be ready to eat.

Use room temperature water for the last rinsing. Drain extremely well and let sprouts sit until they have dried for a few hours. Transfer to a clean jar, cover loosely, then refrigerate.

This is only a guide – many experienced sprouters have their own methods of sprouting different kinds of seed. The varieties range from very small (alfalfa), to large garbanzos (also known as chick peas) and everything in between: amaranth, broccoli, cress, cabbage, arugula, kale, buckwheat, fenugreek, hulled oats and barley, lentils, peas, millet, mung beans, mustard, onion, quinoa, radish, red clover, sunflower, rye, and wheat. They offer a range of sizes, flavors, and nutrients.

If you would like to try sprouts that are soil grown, you'll find many varieties at the Winter Farmers' Market, from 9 am to noon, at Harmony School Saturdays from January 27th through March 17th.