Sprouting: Cheaper than Lettuce!

I about had a stroke last night in the produce section of our local grocery store—right in front of the iceberg lettuce! The heads were small and misshapen and almost $3 each. The romaine lettuce was almost $8 for three heads in a plastic zip top bag. I turned to my daughter and said, “NO WAY!”

This is the time of the year when we really get serious about sprouting. We use sprouts to replace some of the lettuce in salad and as a substitute for it on sandwiches and in roll ups.

Sprouting has many advantages:

  • Sprouting seed costs very little per ounce for the amount of food that it turns into within a few days of germination. (You can be eating sprouts in as little as 3-7 days.)
  • It is one of your best fresh/live food values. (I bought raw organic hulless sunflower seed yesterday for 74 cents a pound, and it only takes two tablespoons per sprouting tray.)
  • Sprouts are full of vitamins and minerals.
  • Food just doesn’t come any fresher or more local.
  • The seed stores well and doesn’t take up much space. All you need is a clean container and a dark, dry, cool pantry or kitchen cabinet to store them.

My mom started sprouting alfalfa seeds in the 1970s. She used Mason jars with screen lids and used the resulting sprouts in salads. She also experimented with other mixtures of seed. She would soak the seeds in warm water in the jar for a while and then drain away the water through the mesh lid. Every day afterward, she would rinse the seeds in the morning and evening. After they germinated, the rinsing would carry away the hulls. Eventually, she would have a jar full of tangled sprouts. She kept the sprouting jars on their sides under the kitchen sink during this process.

There are many more complex contraptions today for sprouting, and they can be quite expensive. The jar and screen lid method is still one of the cheapest around. I’ve tried various styles of sprouting and have settled on a couple that are quick, easy, and meet my family’s needs.

Bioset sprouter

I use a stacked siphon sprouter (Bioset Kitchen Salad Garden) most of the time. This sprouter works well for small as well as large seeds.   It has a top tray with a siphon that drops water down into the next tray and so on through three trays and finally into a bottom reservoir. When all the water has drained to this bottom tray, I empty it and that is it. I make it part of my morning and evening routine and always keep the sprouter out on my kitchen counter next to the radio. (If you pack the sprouter away, you probably won’t get it out and use it.)

Water siphons from top through growing trays and drains into lower reservoir.

I also have a simple tray-style sprouter in which the rinse water drops straight through that works better for sunflower seeds and larger seeds. I find I have to rinse more often with this sprouter so the sprouts don’t dry out.

Salad Mix of mung bean, millet, radish, cabbage, alfalfa, and clover seed.

Johnny’s Seed ( www.johnnyseeds.com ) sells the Bioset sprouter and a selection of sprouting seeds. Many other seed companies sell sprouting seeds and sprouters, including Jung (www.jungseed.com ), Thompson & Morgan (www.tmseeds.com ), and R.H.  Shumway (www.rhshumway.com ) to name only a few.  Thompson & Morgan and Johnny’s have the widest selection of sprouting seed, but R.H. Shumway has some of the lowest prices. I have also bought sprouting seed at bulk and natural food stores. The advantage of these stores is that you don’t have to pay postage!

Three-day old sprouts: Just about ready to eat.

Give sprouting a try. At the price of lettuce and other fresh vegetables right now, you could buy a sprouter and some seed for the price of one trip to the grocery store produce section! Begonia

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