Sprout Heaven

When I co-owned an indoor sprout farm in the late 1970s until the early 1990s, people were fascinated with the idea of growing food indoors without a greenhouse. The sprouts were in large drums and we used indoor lighting for greening. My youngest child had a friend in grammar school (mid- 1980s) who came to see our sprouting operation. He was so in awe, he uttered, “Wow! Sprout Heaven!”


These are baby greens that I harvested to use in salads and sandwiches. They include lentil, sunflower, and buckwheat greens.

That’s exactly how I felt this past week growing sprouts for a demonstration for the Philadelphia Horticulture Society.  My dining room table became a virtual sprout heaven. (Unfortunately, the tail end of hurricane Isaac interrupted my plans and the demo was cancelled since it was to be held outdoors.)

The ironic thing is that sprouts can be grown indoors all year long, without worrying about the weather. But the event was cancelled because of stormy weather.  Even though the event was cancelled, I have all the sprouts to show you & hopefully inspire you to sprout, especially in the winter, when many of us do not have outdoor gardens because we live in the northern part of the country.

Because I have written about sprouts before*, I just want to give you some additional hints that I learned while experimenting with jar sprouts and soil sprouts, also called baby greens. (The picture above is baby greens that have been harvested, that is, cut down from mini-garden boxes. See below.)

Baby Greens grown in containers with organic potting soil.

*Note: If you look on the right hand margin of the Home Page, there is a an archival list of postings by year. I wrote several articles in 2011 in April & May called Springin’ Sprouts, Sprouted Wheat Tabouli, Lentil Pate, a DVD review on Sprouting: Seeds of Sustainability and this year in March, Clover Sprouts for Spring.

Here are some sprout hints:

1. When you soak your seeds, don’t put in too many because they multiply. About one tablespoon per quart jar is plenty for a full jar when harvested.

2. When you are using small seeds, like alfalfa and clover, don’t over soak; 4 to 6 hours are plenty. Drain well and lay the jar at an angle to allow residual rinse water to drain completely. See photo below.

This is a sprouting timeline. Each day I soaked a new jar and grew the first jar for 5 to 6 days to show the growth day by day.

3. If you are concerned about bacteria while sprouting, you can try a hint sent to me by my friend Gurelle, also an avid sprouter in Florida. She picked up a sheet on hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) that said you can dilute 2 Tbl. of H2O2 in 2 cups of water and use that for soaking & rinsing. (I believe that the bacteria problem is derived from not giving your sprouts a “bath” once they are sprouted and allowing the hulls to rise to the top to be skimmed off.) But the H2Os is a good idea, too.

4. When you are sprouting baby greens, be sure to give the soil a drink of water every other day. There are only about 2- 3 inches of soil in the recycled container I use, so the soil dries out quickly.

5. Keep your harvested sprouts in a glass jar. They will last much longer. I just used up a jar of sprouts that I had for more than 2 weeks in the ‘frig. I purposely watched for spoilage every day and found none. But my sprouts have the hulls removed with a bath and I drain them very well in a strainer over a bowl before placing them back in the glass jar I sprout them in.

Sprouts and sprouted baby greens are full of fresh nutrition. You can’t get more local than your kitchen and you can easily find organic seeds online or in health food stores. My most recent purchase was from: www.wheatgrasskits.com and I also purchase organic seeds from www.sproutingseeds.com owned by the Mumm’s. There is a 3-minute video that shows how to grow jar sprouts. Easy, simple, and fresh!

Here is a recipe from my Johnny Alfalfa Sprout Handbook, available by clicking on MY BOOKS.

Sprout Slaw

Ingredients

1/2 small red cabbage, grated
1/2 small white cabbage, grated
2-3 org. carrots, scrubbed and grated (if not organic, peel)
2-3 sliced scallions
handful of sprouts, either jar sprouts or baby greens, cut small.
Your favorite coleslaw dressing or oil and lemon

Directions

Mix all the ingredients in a bowl. Toss with your favorite dressing. Add salt & pepper if you wish. Serve chilled.
Note: If you are using a mayonannise-based dressing, you might want to add the sprouts after you add the dressing so they don’t wilt.

 

Personal Note: Tomorrow is the 11th anniversary of 9/11/01. It also happens to be the 21stbirthday of my grandson Max, so while I want to celebrate his 21st birthday, I also want to acknowledge this sad day. I won’t be posting anything on this day. Perhaps we can all take a few moments to remember the sadness of that day.

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