Grow something edible WITHOUT soil, sunlight, or going outside?
AND eat your harvest within four days?
Sounds too good to be true, right?
What is this magical veggie I speak of?
If you’re anything like me, the first thing I thought of when I was considering growing my own bean sprouts was the episode of The Office where Creed says, “I sprout mung beans on a damp paper towel in my desk drawer. Very nutritious, but they smell like death.”
I love sprouts, but was sick and tired of never being able to find them in the grocery store. I also don’t like to get them when eating out because it seems like there are always news stories about people getting e-coli from raw sprouts at restaurants. I love trying new things (I get bored growing and cooking the same things over and over again). And I think growing your own food is fun and liberating, so why not give growing sprouts a shot? Problem solved.
I wanted the simplest and cheapest method to grow sprouts. I found: Sprout-Ease – Econo-Sprouter Toppers on Amazon. It looks like the product and the packaging design probably haven’t changed since the 1960’s, but as a savvy consumer, I found this to be a good sign that it is a solid, tried-and-true product. This set of jar toppers also suited my needs perfectly because you only need wide-mouth mason jars to use them (of which I have a ton).
I ordered a dozen varieties of sprouting seeds from The Sprout House on Amazon. Little did I know that this is probably a lifetime supply of sprouting seeds. The mixes of seeds are very funky cool! In addition to the ever popular alfalfa, there are radish, lentil, and clover sprout seeds, and many others that I have never heard of before (like adzuki). For my first attempt, I decided to do the September Morn Mix which includes alfalfa, mung, and broccoli sprouting seeds.
I measured out 2 Tablespoons of the seeds into a wide-mouth mason jar and covered them with filtered water and let them soak overnight. I believe like most seeds, this helps to loosen up the outer seed shell to encourage germination. The seeds seemed to really soak up the water and some doubled in size!
As per the instructions on my jar toppers, the next morning I drained the water through the topper (which allows the water to escape, but keeps the seeds in the jar). I took the jar topper off just to show how well it does catching even the smallest of seeds.
After draining the water, I filled the jar about half way with fresh filtered water. Then I somewhat vigorously swished the water around and drained the fresh water out of the jar. I shook the jar over my sink to get as much water out as I could (to prevent any damp funkiness in the jar). After shaking, as the directions suggested, I situated the jar at an angle on my dish rack. This allows any excess water to continue to drain and allows air to flow up into the jar which prevents the seeds from rotting. You want to try and prevent all the seeds / sprouts from collecting on the lid as to not obstruct the air flow (as you can see below, it is tricky when they are still just seeds, but once they are sprouts, it is easier for them to be distributed throughout the jar). I did the rinse / drain cycle twice a day for four days.
It was so exciting to see the the sprouts grow every day! This is definitely instant gratification gardening!
Some of my research suggested that once you are satisfied with the size of your sprouts to put them in a sunny location so they can turn a little green if you want. I put mine in the sun for about an hour and then I said “screw it” and started eating them.
I could not believe that 2 Tablespoons of seeds could produce so many sprouts! I also loved the mix – the crunchy Mung, the mild but delicious Alfalfa, and the sweet Broccoli sprouts. Sprouts are very nutritious (as Creed taught us) and are chock full of antioxidants. I also read that a small amount of broccoli sprouts has the same amount of cancer prevention as large amounts of full-grown broccoli.
As you can see above, I dried the sprouts on a towel (damp sprouts would wilt/get moldy in the refrigerator very quickly) and sprouts are best kept in an air tight container. I read that, properly stored, they can keep up to 6 weeks! I’m not sure how accurate that is. It seems like a long time, and mine didn’t last long enough to test that claim.
I love topping a salad with sprouts!
I also love the crunch that sprouts add to a sandwich (and Sprouted bread from Aldi seemed like the obvious choice for my new sprouts).
In conclusion, sprouts are one of the easiest things I have ever grown. Honestly, it would take some talent to screw it up (but feel free to take that as a challenge if you like!). I think I may store some of my seeds in my root cellar as survival food. Hopefully if I’m holed up, I will still have access to water!
I’d also like to buy the 4 Legs of Love Sprouts from the Sprout People which are sprouts that are specifically good for dogs. My corgi, Goldie, loves eating grass – but I don’t know if my neighbors have chemically treated yards, so I try to discourage it. Sprouts could become one of her new favorite treats!
And, if Creed’s statement about Mung bean odor still concerns you, trust me – they passed the sniff test. They don’t smell like death.