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NANCY SZERLAG

Gardening: Sprouting seeds a fast way to grow fresh veggies

Nancy Szerlag
Special to The Detroit Neww

If you’ve been thinking about trying some kitchen gardening to help fight off the winter ickies but lack the space and funds to do a setup, seed sprouting is a perfect place to start.

Sprouting seeds is a quick and easy way to grow a fresh, nutritious vegetable crop indoors with no fuss, no dirt and you don’t need special lighting. 

Nancy Szerlag, master gardener, displays her jar of bean sprouts.

Sprouts are high in fiber, low in calories, easy to digest and fat free. They contain protein, minerals, enzymes, amino acids and a variety of vitamins and can be used in salads, sandwiches, stir-fries and a passel of other ways including smoothies.  

  One of my favorite recipes is to saute the sprouts with mushrooms and onions and add them along with slivered almonds when scrambling eggs.  A dash or two of low-sodium soy sauce to the raw egg adds additional flavor. It’s a dieter’s dream come true.  

Although alfalfa and mung beans are the most popular seeds for sprouting, there’s a large array of vegetables to choose from, including broccoli, radishes and lentils. And there’s no comparison between those you grow yourself and store bought. 

Botanical Interests’ (botanicalinterests.com) seed collection offers lots of choices, including a salad and sandwich mix. For zip try Radish China Rose. 

If you really get into sprouting, Johnny’s Selected Seeds (johnnyseeds.com) also carries certified organic seed in larger quantities.  A quarter- pound of mung beans runs $6.50. 

  Along with freshness and flavor,  what’s great about sprouting is you can grow these healthful little morsels with a minimum of effort.  All you need is a clean 1-quart wide-mouth glass jar, some cheesecloth, a large rubber band and some seeds. 

Start by soaking the seeds overnight in warm water in the jar. Then drain off the water and inspect larger seeds, removing any that are broken. Next, fill the jar half-full of fresh water, cover with the cheese cloth secured by a rubber band, swish the seeds around and drain. I prop the jar on an angle in a bowel that sits in the kitchen sink. Repeat the process at night.      

Twice daily rinsing is key to successful and healthful sprouting.  The Botanical Interests website includes instructions on how to disinfect the seeds, which is optional. Both Botanical Interest and Johnny’s seed have been tested and certified negative for the presence of disease.  

When ready to eat – usually in about four to five days,  give the sprouts a final rinse, drain well and store leftovers in the refrigerator.  They should be rinsed daily. 

Botanical Interests’ seeds are available at independent garden centers as well as mail order.  

Nancy Szerlag is a master gardener and Metro Detroit freelance writer. Her column appears Fridays in Homestyle. E-mail her at Szerlag@earthlink.net.