by Emma Holister
Sprouts are hugely nutritious, cheap, home grown organic food...the ultimate survival food....everyone should know how to grow them! The best ones to start with are mung, sunflower, all types of lentils, fenugreek and chick pea.
1- Put the organic beans in a cleaned bean or coffee jar, fill with water, cover with mosquito net or muslin and fix with elastic bands.
2- Cover with a towel so that light cannot reach the beans. Leave them over night to rehydrate.
3- In the morning they will have swollen.
4- Drain the water. You might want to hold the elastic band with your hand in case it comes off, as you don't want to lose your beans in the sink. Fill with water again and drain again in order to rinse them thoroughly. If you use hot water by accident, which is easier to do than you'd realise, you will kill the sprouts, so always be careful which tap you're using!
5- Place the drained beans on a dish rack or some other type of rack (cleaned shower bottle-rack for example) at a slight angle so that the water can drain out, but not completely upside down with the beans crammed against the net. Maximum air is necessary for them to breathe. Place the rack in a bowl or tray to gather the drops of water.
6- Cover. Rinse morning and evening, or three times a day, depending on how hot the weather is - the hotter the weather the more rinsing is needed to avoid mould developing.
7- After a few days, mung beans, fenugreek and large yellow lentils tend to have grown quite fast and therefore need to be divided into two jars. The green ones on the right here are mung and need to be rejarred. On the left we have chick peas that don't expand as much. They are more vulnerable to mould, however, especially in hot weather, and are less difficult if grown in the winter. It is usually enough to rinse them more often.
8- Now you have three jars of sprouts, if you'd been doing large yellow lentils there would be even more. All of the sprouts are edible at this point, even though they can grow a lot more than this. However, if you're in a hurry to eat them, they are very nice in salads at this stage.
9- Cover, continue rinsing twice or three times daily, as usual.
10- After a few days, up to a week, you will have lots of teeming sprouts ready to eat, either in salads or stir fries. Once they begin to fill the jar be careful to remove them or they are likely to get so crammed that they will be difficult to remove without damaging them.
11- If ever beans start to get a bit smelly, put them in a colander and rinse very well, shaking them a bit with the fingers. Taking them out of the jar makes it easier to clean them more thoroughly and exposes them to more air, reducing the risk of mould. Chick peas are particularly vulnerable to mould so it's important to keep a close eye on them. Always be sure to sniff your beans before and after rinsing, to make sure they're not going mouldy.
12- Either leave them on the kitchen counter...
13- ....cover and leave to grow for a few more days as usual....
14- ...or, after having rinsed and left to drain for a while, pour them into a kitchen towel....
15- ....tie the corners with an elastic band....
16- ...and put them in the fridge, where they will remain fresh for several days, and even continue to grow, very slowly. Once in the fridge, they don't usually need to be rinsed as the cold prevents them from going mouldy.
Finally, remember that growing sprouts is a versatile art. Although the jar method is one of the most effective, the colander method is also good, although it takes up a bit more space on the kitchen counter. Jars, on the other hand, can be stacked up one upon the other.
Another very useful method of growing sprouts is in the towel itself, as above. Simply rinse by dunking the towel with the sprouts in water and hang it to drain above the sink. This method is particularly useful for travelling, as living sprouts ensure that your packed lunch will remain fresh as long as you continue to rinse them twice a day, because they are alive, and rather than going stale or rancid like most packed lunches, they become tastier the more time goes by. Suspending the sprouts towel-pouch inside an open topped plastic bag or bathroom toiletries bag will contain the drips, this can be attached to your rucksack and transported wherever you go, for days.