When you’ve had your fill of heavy gratins and hearty roasted roots, sauces and creams and wilted greens, it’s time to grow some sprouts.
Growing sprouts is easy and doesn’t require anything more than the seed, a clean jar and a strainer over the lid. I use a quart-size, wide-mouth canning jar, but you could wash out any empty spaghetti sauce or mayonnaise jar as well. You will also need a means of straining water from the jar without losing the tiny seeds. I use a piece of window screen bought at the hardware store, which I secure with a rubber band. There are also strainer lids specifically designed to grow sprouts in Mason jars, which you may be able to find in your local co-op or health food store. Cheesecloth would also work, though the seeds may tend to stick.
Start by choosing your seed. As a rule, most leafy greens, anything from the cabbage (brassica) family and legumes make good sprouts. Alfalfa and clover are crowd pleasers with mild flavors, but you may want to try something spicy like arugula. You can get an idea how pungent the sprouts are going to be based on their adult version. For example, broccoli sprouts are fairly mild but radish sprouts have a serious kick. It is important that you source clean seed. E. coli and salmonella have been an issue with sprouts, and the vector is usually the seed itself. Sprouting is popular enough now that seed companies usually have a separate section for sprouting seed that is certified pathogen-free. (Try JohnnySeeds.com or HighMowingSeeds.com.)
Start with about 1 tablespoon of seed per quart.
Put the seed into the quart jar and fill with water. Swirl the seeds to rinse them, and then drain the water through your sieve contraption. Refill the jar with water and let the seeds soak for 8 hours.
Drain the jar well, making sure there is no standing water under the seeds (you can leave the jar tilted at an angle).
Henceforth, leave the jar in a spot with average indoor light (no direct sunlight) at room temperature.
Rinse twice a day, rolling the jar to help separate the sprouts as they begin to grow, and always make sure they are drained well.
You should have the sprouts within 3 to 7 days depending upon the seed.
When they are the desired size, remove from the jar and place them in a bowl, cover with a moistened paper towel, and put them in the fridge. Eat on sandwiches, salads or anywhere you want some fresh crunch. There, now you can make it to spring.