Seed Sprouting 101
Whether you have a very small (or nonexistent) garden, indoor sprouting requires very little space, and is an easy way to introduce some interesting new greens to salads.
Although Gardenista contributor Sarah lives in rural Virginia with ample garden space, she still finds herself starting jars and trays of seeds on the kitchen counter. Sprouting seeds is near-immediate in its gratification, as the harvest comes just a few days after you “plant” your seeds:
Photographs by Sarah Catherine Searle.
Above: Lentil sprouts have been a favorite lately. They’re a bit peppery and snappy, and go well in a summer salad. The process is simple: you’ll need a wide mouth glass jar, some cheesecloth, a rubber band, and some well-sourced lentils. Try to find organic or naturally grown varieties. Put the lentils—or other seeds—into a jar, leaving quite a bit of head space, as they will expand and grow. Here you can see split peas, sunflower seeds, and lentils on Sarah’s kitchen counter. She usually fills a jar about one-quarter full with whatever she’s sprouting.
Above: Now, through the cheese cloth, add water, and allow your seeds to soak for two to three hours. Drain them through the cheesecloth, and set them on a kitchen counter or windowsill that receives light, but not direct light, and is not too cold. Every day, you will need to rinse the lentils. This keeps them damp, and prevents mold from growing among the seeds. Unlike the initial soak, on subsequent days simply fill the jar with water, swirl around to make sure that the water penetrates all the spaces in between the lentils, and then drain through the cheesecloth.
After 24 hours, you should see tiny white sprouts begin to poke up. Continue to rinse the lentils daily until they reach desired maturity. Sarah prefer lentil sprouts very young— harvested three or four days after the initial soak. They can, however, be allowed to grow a bit more substantially before you enjoy them.
Before eating or cooking your sprouts, remove them from the jar. You may need to use a wooden spoon, as they become pretty packed in as they grow. Place the sprouts in a colander and rinse well. Pair with your favorite vegetables or put them atop a salad.