Sprouting Seeds - Fresh and Simple All Year Round
Sprouting seeds might not be the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about gardening, but it really should be in the list of easy indoor gardening, especially for children - the seeds only take a matter of days to grow, so even the youngest and most impatient of kids will be enthusiastic about the progress!
We are probably all familiar with sprouting cress seeds and possibly mustard too, if we didn't do grow cress at home then we are sure to have done so at school, and chances are that most of us have bought sprouted beans (mung or adzuki) for stir-fry's and oriental dishes in the supermarket, not realising just how easy it is to sprout seeds at home and save a fair few pennies!
What do we need to sprout seeds?
First off, while it is nice to have a seed sprouter, it is not absolutely necessary. We sprouted various seeds for years without one ... and were then given two within a few weeks, and they are great, but as said, not absolutely necessary. What you will need is a tray or similar, some blotting paper or kitchen towel, a plastic bag and clip or tie, and seeds.
How to sprout seeds
1. At the bottom of your tray, place several sheets of blotting paper or kitchen towel and soak thoroughly with water.
You can also use the Jar Method for sprouting seeds:
Pop some soaked seeds into a jar and cover it with an old piece of nylon or gauze and secure with a rubber band. Keep the seeds damp but not wet in a dark cupboard until they have germinated. If they need greening, take the jar out and place on a window sill a couple of days before eating.
2. Spread your seeds evenly over the base, making sure they all touch the paper or kitchen towel.
3. Place the tray in the plastic bag and secure with a clip or tie. Then place the whole thing in a warm, dark cupboard or similar to exclude any light - an airing cupboard is ideal or one next to a radiator or Aga. This is called forcing the seeds.
4. Check the tray every day to ensure the seeds don't dry out.
Most seeds will have sprouted and be ready to eat within 3-5 days, while some, like the mung bean or fenugreek, will need a few days more.
If the sprouting seeds are meant to be green when eaten, remove them from their dark cupboard and place them somewhere light, eg a window sill, a couple of days before harvesting them. This is called greening the sprouts.
Once the sprouts have been harvested, keep them in the fridge in a sealed container and use them within a couple of days.
Tips on Sprouting Seeds
Keep a good eye on the water requirement.
Too much water and the seeds are likely to go moldy (yuck!), too little and they will dry out and not sprout properly.
Remember that the sprouts will increase in size when germinating, usually by about four times their size or more, so don't overfill the tray or jar!
Seeds for Sprouting
There are loads of seeds which are suitable for sprouting, but it is not a good idea to experiment too much as some seeds, eg tomato, can be poisonous and others simply don't taste of anything or may even taste bitter. Seeds which are definitely suitable include:
You won't usually find seeds specifically for sprouting at the garden center or local supermarket, but don't despair, they are available from online retailers such as Suttons or Unwins. Suttons have an especially good collection of 6 different seeds for sprouting, while Unwins include sprouted red cabbage ... not one we have tried yet, so if you do, let us know what you think!
In this Section:
Sprouting Organic Mung Seeds - these are probably the ones you are most familiar with as most supermarkets now stock them. They can be eaten raw but are usually used in stir-fry's and oriental dishes.
Sprouting Organic Lentil Seeds - perfect for Vegetarians as they can be sprouted and used as a meat substitute in stews, much the same as lentils themselves are!
Sprouting Broccoli Seeds - a nice mild variation, high in vitamins, and perfect for stir-fry's. Not one you will find on the shop shelves!
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