It’s just hit 40oC in Dubai so the veggie garden is officially cripsy! There are a few herbs hanging in there and the pineapples are coming along nicely, oh and the sweet potato patch is being nurtured daily for our first crop soon. So with the temperature rising, it was time to move the growing inside. Sprout time! Fabulous with summer salads, and the light meals we have been preparing lately.
I was given numerous bags of sprout mixes from a friend recently leaving Dubai – and with previous sprouting failures in a sprout tray, I was hesitant to try again. The green slimy mess and the smell was enough to put me off! But my friend had fabulous success with sprouting in a jar, so I decided to try this method. The fact they grow quickly in a few days makes it easy and fun for the kids to see distinct progress and we used it as a little after school activity for a few days involving them in the daily rinsing process and looking to see what progress had been made each day.
We started with Alfalfa sprouts. Alfalfa sprouts are one of the most significant dietary sources of phytoestrogens, which are beneficial compounds in plant foods that can help reduce your risk of heart disease, cancer and osteoporosis, according to Michael T. Murray, author of “The Condensed Encyclopedia of Healing Foods.” The phytoestrogens in alfalfa sprouts might reduce symptoms of menopause as well. Murray also notes that alfalfa sprouts contain compounds called saponins, which can help lower your LDL, or bad, cholesterol while also increasing your HDL, or “good” cholesterol. Saponins might also help boost your immunity. Yay. That’s me sold! And lucky we have a huge bag to last us for a year 🙂
The whole process only took a few days and a maximum time needed each day was a less than 5 minutes to rinse and drain the seeds. Here’s what we did…
To get started:
- Put 2 tablespoons of seeds into the jar
- Cover them with a few inches of cool water (approximately double to triple the quantity of seeds)
- Cover the top of the jar with cheese cloth and secure with a rubber band or mason jar lid ring
- Allow the seeds to soak overnight, then drain off the water the next morning
This is the start point photo. It doesn’t look like much for this big jar, but they WILL expand, I promise! Alfalfa seeds yield approximately 7:1, allow the space for them to grow.
The next day we could see the seeds start to germinate already! I stored them on the windowsill (indoors), but out of direct sunlight. They don’t need much light until they form leaves and they can perform photosynthesis, but the kitchen windowsill is somewhere I’ll see them and remind myself to rinse and drain them again today. The main thing is they are not too wet and they have air circulation. The windowsill will be enough light once the leaves form.
By day 3 they started to look like sprouts already. We could see their little tails poking out…
Rinse and drain again.
And by day 4, we could call them actual ‘sprouts’! Rinse and drain again.
You can give them a day or two more depending on how much green you want on top, and some people hull the seeds off, but we are not that picky. Their little leaves were starting to appear and as it was salad day for my lunch, I went ahead and added right on top of my lunch! Yum. Normally allow around 5 days for this little experiment.
When you are happy with their progress, rinse well and drain well before storing in the fridge. If you are using a mason jar you can just replace the cheese cloth with the jar lid for storage. Make sure they are not too wet before storage or they will rot. It’s a good idea to drain them in a strainer or on a towel for a bit before storing them.
Serving suggestions … The obvious choice is to add them to salads, but here are a few other ideas:
- Gilled cheese sandwiches – liven up a grilled cheese sandwich with your favourite sprouts and a tomato slice.
- Tacos and wraps – use in place of shredded lettuce.
- Omelettes – add a half cup of sprouts to your omelettes just before folding. Sprout mixes or alfalfa are great for this.
- Breads – a half cup of sprouts per loaf make a tasty nutritious addition to homemade breads. Add with the liquid. The sprout nutrients also help the yeast produce a higher loaf. (I haven’t tried this suggestion, but looks interesting enough to give it a shot!)
- Soups – a few sprouts added just before serving are great in many soups.
- Sandwiches and wraps – apparently sprouts and peanut butter sandwiches go well together! Ha. Who knew? Egg salad sandwiches with sprouts are my favourite combination boosting nutritional content and adding texture. A good combination is sprouts with something like cream cheese, cottage cheese or mushed up avocado to help the sprouts stick inside the sandwich.
Here is my sprout lunch – egg salad, alfalfa sprouts and aged cheddar on homemade sourdough bread, served with a handful of steamed edamame. Mmmm.
…and moving onto my next kitchen experiment – Zesty Sprouting Mix (Clover, Fenugreek and Radish Seeds)! Sounds like a good combo for the folded omelette idea. Will let you know how that one goes.
For the kids:
- Involve the kids in the measuring the seeds and water to get them started
- Or if you have more than one little chefling wanting to help – split the seeds into two smaller jars and have them responsible for one jar each. Works well with twins 😉 Label each jar with the kids name and see whose sprouts first.
- They can help rinse and drain the sprouts each day.
- Watch them grow each day and discuss with the kids the changes since the previous day. You could take photos are compare the differences and keep track of progress.
- Involve the kids in deciding what recipe they are going to add the finished sprouts to. We decided to call them “wiggly worm sprouts” which gave them more interest factor for the kids! You can’t beat wiggly worm sandwiches 🙂
From our kitchen to yours!