I first started sprouting seeds—all kinds of grains, legumes, and vegetables—when I lived in the city. Even with a non-existent or small garden, indoor sprouting requires very little space, and is an easy way to introduce some interesting new greens to salads.
Now I live in rural Virginia (with ample garden space), but I still find myself starting jars and trays of seeds on the kitchen counter. Sprouting seeds is near-immediate in its gratification, as the harvest comes just a few days after you “plant” your seeds:
Photographs by Sarah Catherine Searle.
Above: Lentil sprouts have been a favorite lately. They’re a bit peppery and snappy, and go well in a summer salad. The process is simple: you’ll need a wide mouth glass jar, some cheesecloth, a rubber band, and some well-sourced lentils. Try to find organic or naturally grown varieties. Sprout People has a huge array of seeds for leafier sprouts, bean sprouts, brassica sprouts, grain sprouts, and of course, lentil sprouts.
Above: Put the lentils—or other seeds—into a jar, leaving quite a bit of head space, as they will expand and grow. Here you can see split peas, sunflower seeds, and lentils on my kitchen counter. I usually fill a jar about one-quarter full with whatever I’m sprouting.
Above: Now, through the cheese cloth, add water, and allow your seeds to soak for from two to three hours. Drain them through the cheesecloth, and set them on a kitchen counter or windowsill that receives light, but not direct light, and is not too cold. Every day, you will need to rinse the lentils. This keeps them damp, and prevents mold from growing among the seeds. Unlike the initial soak, on subsequent days simply fill the jar with water, swirl around to make sure that the water penetrates all the spaces in between the lentils, and then drain through the cheesecloth.
After 24 hours, you should see tiny white sprouts begin to poke up. Continue to rinse the lentils daily until they reach desired maturity. I prefer lentil sprouts very young—I harvest three or four days after the initial soak. They can, however, be allowed to grow a bit more substantially before you enjoy them.
Above: Before eating or cooking with the sprouts, remove them from the jar. You may need to use a wooden spoon, as they become pretty packed in as they grow. Place the sprouts in a colander and rinse them well in cold water. Your sprouts are now ready to use in salads and stir-fries.
N.B.: This is an update of a post published Aug. 28, 2012.