Add Sprouts To Your Winter Diet

This indoor crop can be a way to get nutritious greens all winter long.

by Jessica Walliser
PHOTO: iStock/Thinkstock

Missing fresh, homegrown greens from your winter diet? Well, there’s an easy way to grow your own all winter long: sprouts!

Sprouts are the young, newly germinated seedlings of many different vegetables, herbs and grains, and growing them is super simple. Although you can grow dozens of different types of sprouts, good ones for beginners are radish, alfalfa, mung beans and broccoli. Sprout connoisseurs looking to try something different may also want to sprout seeds of red clover, amaranth, cilantro and lentils.

You don’t need any special equipment to grow sprouts, either. A simple, clean quart-sized glass jar, a new piece of cheesecloth, a rubber band and seeds are all you’ll need.

Sanitizing Your Seed

One important step that’s essential to healthy sprout growing is sanitation. Because sprouts can harbor pathogens that might make you sick (including salmonella and E. coli), sanitizing the seeds prior to sprouting them is a good idea. Put 2 tablespoons of seeds in a cup of water with 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar. Let the seeds soak for 10 minutes before draining and rinsing them with clean water.

Starting Your Sprouts

Jessica Walliser

After the seeds have been sanitized, put them into the jar and fill the jar with enough water to just cover the seeds. Place the piece of cheesecloth over the jar’s mouth and secure it with a rubber band.

Let the seeds soak overnight. Drain the jar through the cheesecloth the following morning, and then lay the drained jar on its side on the kitchen counter. Every day, rinse the seeds with fresh water twice per day, draining the jar after each rinse.

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It will take just a few days for the seeds to sprout. They’re ready to eat anytime after sprouting, but for use in salads and on sandwiches, wait until they start to turn a pale shade of green before eating them.

Taking It To The Next Level

If you’d like to be a little more sophisticated about your sprouting, purchase a sprouting kit. These handy kitchen tools allow you to sprout multiple seeds at the same time in a fairly compact area. There are several different types of sprout kits, but I like the ones with trays that stack on top of each other so you can have a constant supply of fresh sprouts all winter long.

A Plentiful Harvest

Whether your grow sprouts in a jar or in a sprouting kit, stagger your sprout harvest by starting a new batch of seeds every few days. Be sure to label each jar or tray with the date the seeds were first exposed to water, as well as the name of the variety.

For safety reasons, pregnant women and those with a compromised immune system should fully cook sprouts prior to consuming them.

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