Botanical Interests Seed Sprouter is $24.95 at botanicalinterests.com. (Botanical Interests)
After spending a week perusing seed catalogs and staring at an icy, snow-covered landscape, Iím itching to do some planting. Itís way too soon to start seeds for the garden, but itís a perfect time to crank up my kitchen garden and start sprouting.
Sprouting seeds is a quick and easy way to grow a fresh and nutritious vegetable crop indoors with no fuss and no muss, and you donít need any special lighting.
Sprouts are high in fiber, low in calories, easy to digest, fat free and very filling. They also contain protein, minerals, amino acids and a passel of vitamins. The can be used in salads, sandwiches and stir-fries. I saute them with mushrooms and onions and add them when scrambling eggs. Theyíre a dieterís dream come true.
Although alfalfa and mung beans are the most popular seeds for sprouting, thereís a large array of vegetables, legumes and grains to choose from, including broccoli, radish, chickpeas, soybeans, lentils and sunflowers. Look for options at your local health food store or check out websites on the Internet. Botanical Interests (www.botanicalinterests.com) includes more than a dozen choices in its 2014 seed catalog, including fenugreek and a spicy mix made up of cabbage, mustard and cress seeds and more. The savory mix, with a crisp texture, combines beets, Swiss chard and Pak Choi along with several other varieties.
The best part of sprouting is you can grow these healthful little morsels with a minimum of expense. All you need to get started is a one quart wide-mouth glass jar, some cheesecloth, a large rubber band and some seeds.
Begin by soaking the seeds overnight in cold water in the jar. Next drain off the water and inspect the seeds, removing any that are broken or failed to swell. Then return the seeds to the glass jar, fill it with fresh water, cover with the cheesecloth secured by a rubber band, swish the seeds around and drain. Repeat the procedure. Prop the jar on an angle to store.
Twice daily rinsing is key to successful and healthful sprouting. The Botanical Interests seed packets also include instructions on how to disinfect the seeds, which is optional. I choose to do this.
When the sprouts are ready to eat ó usually about five days, give them a final rinse, drain well and store them in a plastic bag in the refrigerator.
Botanical Interests also sells a nifty seed sprouter with two divided trays that allow sprouting of four different seed selections at one time. The sprouter and seeds are available at all English Gardens.
Nancy Szerlag is a master gardener and Metro Detroit freelance writer. Her column appears Fridayís in Homestyle. E-mail her at Szerlag@earthlink.net. You can also read her previous columns at detnews.com/homestyle.