Sunday, June 29, 2014

Sprouts and Microgreens

A few weeks ago, my dad bought me a big sack of mung beans online - I like them WAY more than lentils, and they make a killer hummus. He needed to pad his order to get free shipping, thank you dad!
Anyhow, I started looking online for how to sprout these things, because a kilogram of mung beans makes enough hummus to make anyone sick. And I fell into the rabbit hole of sprouting.
A bit of a confession here - I'm terrible at gardening. I hate sunshine, dirt, bugs, and weeds. Nature isn't my thing. I love me some chemicals, but I also like fresh food without the chemicals. If you're like me, you'll love sprouting.

The most popular way to start sprouts is in a quart mason jar, but for my mung beans I started with a recycled ice cream tub. I put a couple of orphaned lids for plastic containers in the bottom, with holes poked in them for drainage, then a couple of paper towels, and 1/4 cup of soaked beans (soaked overnight), and then a couple more paper towels. It's dry here, so the paper towels helped keep the beans moist but not wet. And, I kept them covered with a linen dishtowel while they were growing - mung beans like it dark. Here's that result after just 4 days:

They had a much better flavor than bean sprouts from the store, sweet and a bit like snow peas. But the set up was a little fiddly - they have to be thoroughly rinsed a couple of times per day, there were always a few that tried to escape during the process. I also tried it in jars, but the sprouts in jars tended to be shorter and more curly. The best way I tried was in recycled clamshells from strawberries. In each cleaned clamshell, I put a paper towel (to keep the little beans from escaping through the drainage holes, a couple of tablespoons of soaked beans, and then another paper towel. The second paper towel probably isn't necessary if you're in a humid climate. It was really easy to just pop open the lid, rinse, and then close it back up and set it back on a tray to drain. Here's the result:

You'll notice that the second clamshell is nearly empty. That's because of snacking - my kids eat the hell out of these. They're good in stir frys, but great on salads and sandwiches too. My favorite is a slice of cheese, onion, and bean sprouts on rye. Nom.

I'm not going to bore you with pics of the alfalfa and mixed green sprouts in jars, but I also tried the French Garden Microgreens from in a tray with a mix of soil and Orbeez. The Orbees are a superabsorbent polymer originally developed to retain water in agriculture. I used two packets (300 Orbeez) mixed with potting soil, and about a pint of water in a tray 1" deep, soaked all day, and then spread with a tablespoon of soaked seeds:

Then, I sprayed them several times per day with water, and 7 days later, this:

They're adorable and tasty, but I'll probably stick to sprouting in jars for these little guys. Using the Orbeez was effective though, they did provide a sort of drainage that made it possible to grow microgreens without fancy trays - these are just grown in a recycled container with no drainage holes.

So there it is, my sprouts and microgreens. If you like fresh greens, but have a black thumb, these are just the best. My beans came from, and the alfalfa and salad mix from I'm enjoying all the sprouts, and love knowing that when Winter comes, I can still grow fresh salad. :)

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