We awoke to snow on this fine Valentine’s Day, and everything is blanketed in white. I’ve been daydreaming about gardening, sketching plans, and making notes in seed catalogs, but here in Colorado we still have about three more months to go until the last frost. It seems like a fine morning to start a batch of sprouts.
Sprouts are not only crunchy and delicious, they contain highly concentrated phytochemicals (plant compounds) and antioxidants. I found a good assortment of organic seeds for sprouting at Vitamin Cottage Natural Grocers and decided to buy organic alfalfa and mung bean seeds because they’re supposed to be easy for beginners; each four-ounce package was $2.49. While I was in the store I also checked the price of ready-to-eat alfalfa sprouts – $3.99 for a 3-ounce container.
I’ll admit that I was sorely tempted to buy a special seed sprouting jar with a cool green lid, but I resisted. I’m trying to stop buying so much stuff, and growing sprouts in a regular old jar better suits my sensibilities about recycling anyway. So my total out-of-pocket expense was a little over $5.
The first step of sprouting is soaking the seeds. Cleanliness is important in sprouting so that no bad bacteria ruins the process, so I ran my designated jar (which previously held applesauce) through the dishwasher so it would be sterile. Then I added some filtered water, filling the jar about half full. I decided to try sprouting some of the alfalfa sprouts first, and since my jar isn’t large I added 2 teaspoons of sprouts and gave it a stir.
Even though I started with a small portion, there are hundreds and hundreds of the tiny alfalfa seeds:
Next, I secured a piece of cheesecloth on top of the jar with a rubber band. If you’re using a Mason jar with a screwtop lid, you could also cut a piece of clean plastic or stainless steel screening and insert it in the lid. The cheesecloth or screening allows air to circulate and will make rinsing and draining easier.
The little seeds now need to soak for 8 to 12 hours. Over the next several days, we’ll be rinsing and draining the seeds as they (hopefully) sprout. If you want to jump ahead and read how the whole process works, you might enjoy visiting The Sprout People. Along with providing tons of enthusiastic information about sprouting, they also sell seeds and supplies.
Meanwhile, the alfalfa seeds are resting on the kitchen counter where they should begin to absorb water and miraculously make the leap from dormancy to tiny plants. Here’s a final look at the recycled seed ‘incubator’ with the snow falling in the background.
More tomorrow – scroll to the bottom of this posting for updates. Happy Valentine’s Day and hugs to all of you,
UPDATE – DAY 2
After 24 hours, the sprouts seem to be doing fine. I drained the water out last night, and this morning I poured water in the jar right through the cheesecloth and swirled the seeds around to rinse them; I repeated this two times, and then thoroughly drained the water out through the cheesecloth. (This needs to be done every 12 hours, so I’m doing the rinse/drain cycle at 7 a.m. and 7 p.m.) This afternoon I shot the following picture of the tiny seeds, and if you look closely you can see a few of them are already starting to sprout!