By - Laura Bissessar
When you plant a seed with some water, a dark space, and a little bit of love, a new life will sprout forth from its tiny encasement and can result in anything from a raspberry to a redwood. But we’re not talking about the verb definition of sprouts. We’re talking about the noun version - the edible, adorable, tasty little plants that grow from many types of beans and seeds and are ready to eat in just a few days.
Why Bother with Sprouts?
If you’ve ever felt the defeat of caring for a plant only to have it produce nothing after weeks of effort, the instant gratification from growing sprouts can be the spark you deserve to get back into the gardening spirit. I spoke to Whitney Wade, expert gardener, and owner of Plant Grow Eat, and she said, "with growing food, there are things that are easier to grow than others, and I steer people toward those things first.”
And to steer you in the right direction, sprouts are a great way to gain confidence with your green thumb, even for beginners. It only takes a few materials, minimal effort, and 3-5 days of waiting to get refreshing, crispy micro-veggies to add to virtually any meal. They’re also concentrated bites of nutrition and a delicious way to add protein, vitamins, minerals, and chlorophyll to your meals. Not to mention that everything is done indoors and requires only enough space to store a mason jar.
So, if you’re a self-confessed garden killer, or if you’re newly interested in growing your own food, follow this guide to build your confidence and be a part of the ever-growing community of home gardeners.
Materials for Growing Sprouts
Whether you’re an avid online shopper or prefer the hands-on experience, materials for growing sprouts are easy to find on gardening websites and home improvement stores.
Here’s what you’ll need:
Seeds and dried beans – You can try a single item or look for a prepackaged sprouting mix for an explosion of flavor. Some popular choices are broccoli, radish, mung bean, alfalfa, and lentil.
A large mason jar – Make sure to give your sprouts plenty of room to grow.
A draining lid, or cheesecloth and a rubber band
Let’s Get Growing!
Working with clean materials and clean hands, here’s the lowdown:
1. Place two tablespoons of seed/bean mix into the mason jar. Remember, your sprouts are going to increase in size exponentially.
2. Add water to the jar and allow the seeds to soak overnight.
3. After soaking, drain and rinse the seeds.
4. Place your draining lid (or cheesecloth and rubber band) on the jar and store the jar upside-down in a dark space. Place a dishtowel underneath to catch any extra moisture.
5. Rinse and drain the jar’s contents twice a day. When you notice a bunch of sprouting action, you can place the mason jar in an area with indirect sunlight. Some sources say to keep it in the dark, but I've had plenty of success with this method.
6. Enjoy the magic.
7. Your sprouts will develop itty bitty leaves in a few days, which means they're ready to eat or store in the fridge! Sprouts can be kept in the refrigerator for up to a week.
Oh, the possibilities! Enjoy sprouts raw on their own or in sandwiches, salads, cold pizza, on sushi; the choice is yours. And, like delicate herbs, you can add sprouts at the end of cooking up a stir-fry or right before serving a warm bowl of soup or stew. If it sounds good, go for it!
Now that you have all the confidence in the world, ask yourself if you're ready to take a deeper dive into gardening. To help decide, Ms. Wade advises, "it boils down to what [you] want to eat, which is a great motivator." She says that beans, peas, radishes, and cucumbers are ideal starter vegetables. Always do some research before you start, and if you're growing outdoors, make sure that the information is specific to your region.
Do you like to grow sprouts? Leave a comment and tell us about your experience! And if you’d like to learn more about starting your own garden, you can find Whitney Wade on Instagram at @plantgroweat.