It’s the middle of winter. Are you craving fresh greens?
Here’s some good news — superfood sprouted greens are easy to grow in your kitchen, so you can brighten up your meals with living, organic food. Sprouted seeds are brimming with bioavailable nutrients and antioxidants. They are inexpensive, low maintenance, always in season, fast to grow, and unbelievably fresh. Did I mention tasty? A few days ago I put out a snack for the granddaughters — crackers, a creamy spread, and a big bowl of daikon radish sprouts. They cheered!
You can have your own kitchen window sprout farm with very little effort or expense. Tending your crop of sprouts takes only a few minutes twice a day. If children are in your home, I strongly recommend this project. Within a few short days the seeds begin to transform. Roots emerge, tiny first leaves appear. Almost before our eyes a dull-looking seed becomes a vibrant, growing plant. It seems miraculous. It is miraculous! In less than a week you will all be eating funny, delicious, home grown sprouts. This could be the beginning of a lifelong fascination with growing food at home — food security at its best.
Growing your first batch of sprouts
Are you ready to give it a try? First you will need to buy your seeds. Be sure to get organic, non-GMO seeds that are meant for sprouting. I’ve never had a failure with daikon radish seeds so I know this is a great choice for first time sprouting. Some seeds are trickier to grow and some have unusual requirements; leave them until after you have a successful crop under your belt. With radish seeds, you can get the hang of the process, enjoy a brilliant success, and then branch out for more variety. Soon your little farm could be providing you with many kinds of delicious sprouts.
Assemble your supplies
- daikon radish sprouting seeds
- a glass wide-mouth quart jar
- an elastic
- a tea towel
Developing sprouts need to be tended morning and evening.
1 Measure two tablespoons of daikon radish sprouting seeds into the glass jar. Fill the jar halfway with room temperature filtered water and let the seeds soak for at least six hours or overnight. Cut a circle of cheesecloth that is three inches wider than the jar opening. Attach the cheesecloth firmly over the jar mouth with an heavy elastic. If your cheesecloth has a very loose weave, you will need several layers to keep the seeds from falling through.
2 After the seeds have soaked, drain off all the water through the cheesecloth. It is important to keep the seeds moist but not sitting in any water, so shake the jar out carefully. Then place it on its side and cover it with a dish towel since most seeds sprout better in the dark. You can turn the jar during the day to redistribute the moisture if you think of it. Count this as the first day.
3 Each morning and evening for the next five days, add room temperature water to the jar, swirl it around freely and then drain it well. Very soon you’ll be able to see the sprouts breaking out of their seed cases. On day three, many of the seeds will have their first leaves, called cotyledon. On the morning of day four, set the jar in the light so the leaves can green up. A window is great for this, but do not put your sprouts in direct sun.
4 By the fifth or sixth day, the daikon radish sprouts will have bright green leaves and nice white roots. When you think they are big enough to eat, rinse them into a tall bowl. Fill the bowl two-thirds full with water and stir the sprouts around with your clean hand. The brown hulls will rise to the top and settle around the edges of the bowl. Scoop off as many of the hulls as you can. This step is optional, but it does make a serving of sprouts more attractive. Don’t be too picky, and don’t start throwing out sprouts along with the hulls.
5 Strain the sprouts very well, pat dry if necessary, then serve them in a salad, in a sandwich, on crackers, in a green smoothie, or all by themselves to eat with a fork. If there are any left, cover and keep them in the refrigerator. Be sure to use them up within a couple of days. Meanwhile, wash up all your sprouting equipment well, and get the next batch of sprouts started!
A Couple of Sprouting Tips
You can eat smallish sprouts by the end of day five, but if you wait until day seven, the volume you’ve grown will be greatly increased — more for your seed money. In any case, harvest them before the stage of growth where the roots begin branching.
Speaking of roots, on day six or seven, you may notice your radish sprouts have white fuzz on their roots. Don’t panic — the batch is not ruined. This is part of the normal growth pattern, not mould as you might have first imagined. As soon as you rinse them, they’ll look normal again. However, once you reach this stage it is time to harvest soon. Refrigeration will slow down growth and keep your sprouts at prime condition for a few days.
Radish sprouts are only the tip of the iceberg of possibilities. Sprout seed suppliers offer many intriguing choices. Bean sprouts for stir fry are ready in three or four days. Clover sprouts are slightly sweet. Broccoli spouts are becoming known for their cancer-fighting properties.
Are you inspired to give sprouts a try?