To sprout seeds you don’t really need specialised equipment – all that’s required is a jar, a muslin cloth to cover it, a plastic band to secure it and a handful of seeds. I use an old transparent plastic pot and a clean piece of old tea towel (both spotlessly clean, obviously) for this exciting little project! This is an excellent way to achieve optimal results in minimal time. I’m sure you’ll get a kick out of watching your sprouting seeds (and your confidence) grow. Best of all, you’ll get to grow and eat within a week.
When deciding between seeds, we’re spoilt for choice. I usually opt for wheat grass, beans, dried peas or fenugreek for nutritionally dense options that are a source of protein, vitamins and minerals. I always use seeds that were intended for sprouting and I favour the pretty ones as I like food that has colour. Sprouting seeds pack a real punch nutritionally, particularly as the vitamin content is known to increase 20-fold during the sprouting process – according to the back of many of the packets, you’ll be getting 40 times the nutritional value of fully-grown vegetables.
How to get started
- Simply put the seeds in the pot and rinse in cold water. After draining, remove any debris or broken seeds and soak by filling two-thirds of the jar with water.
- Cover with a mesh lining (I just use a scrap of an old clean tea towel and secure with an elastic band). Leave the jar, somewhere away from direct sunlight, for around eight hours and watch the seeds almost double in size. Larger seeds such as chickpeas may require up to 24 hours for this.
- Carefully invert the jar so that it sits at an angle, allowing the seeds to drain for about seven hours.
- For the following two to three days, repeat this process, gently rinsing and draining the seeds about three times a day. Once they’ve produced a sprout tail, finish with one final rinse and they’ll be ready to eat.
- There’s really no need to make this a chore or an exact science (sometimes I only remember to do the drain once a day). The NHS does, however, have this safety advice: make sure your equipment is cleaned thoroughly using hot soapy water before and after use, stick to seeds suitable for home sprouting and follow the manufacturer’s instructions closely.
How to use them
Many seeds begin to lose their flavour over time, so be sure not to leave them too long before you eat them. I love to sprinkle my sprouting seeds on top of different dishes to add the wow factor. They look and taste incredible. But don’t save them for the salad – I serve them on poached eggs for breakfast or even pop them on top of a stir-fry, stew or soup as I serve. I recommend sprouting in staggered batches and experimenting with different seed types to maintain variety and a constant harvest. Get yourself a jar and see what you can create!