We've been blessed with so much good lettuce and herbs this year, there was only one thing missing. Sprouts. Not only are they delicious fiber-rich salad toppers, but I love on sandwiches, too. I usually buy a pack at the store and they go bad long before we finish them.
For a long time I had wanted to experiment with growing sprouts at home, and when I checked into how ridiculously easy it was to grow them, it seemed a shame not to do it. There are quite a few people who successfully grow sprouts in a mason jar with a cheesecloth lid. However there does seem to be some risk of also growing bacteria in the jar along with your sprouts. Numerous websites for extension offices either advise against it, or post frighteningly complicated instructions for growing a healthy salmonella-free crop. There also seems to be a lesser risk of fostering mold in the jar, especially during humid weather. I didn't want to make this so complicated that a slip of my horrible short term memory would result in illness, so I started shopping for sprouters. This way, all I would need to remember is to rinse the sprouter twice a day for a healthy crop. Sprouters are so inexpensive, I feel it was a worthwhile investment and will likely pay for itself.
I found a small 3-tray sprouter online, which even came with some seeds. I'll post a link to it on my side bar. All sprouters are essential stacks of trays with a catch tray for drainage underneath.
There are two important things to remember in growing sprouts. 1) Use organic seed, as most commercial seeds for growing are sprayed with an anti-fungal. You can get around this by cooking your seed in 3% peroxide for five minutes, but I found an abundant amount of organic sprouting seeds online. The other important thing to remember is that your sprouts should be moist, but not immersed in water. This is where the twice-a-day rinse comes in. The sprouter I purchased (again, a small item that won't take up a lot of space) drains easily and has three trays so I can add new seed every few days to an empty tray and keep a constant rotation of fresh sprouts growing. Again, I'm sure that there are many people successfully growing sprouts in a jar, but it seems like there would be less spoilage with a draining tray system, and it allows you to grow more variety at once.
Does it work? Yes, in addition to using some alfalfa seeds that came with the sprouter, and an organic "crunchy" mix, in just a few days we did have a sprout harvest. You can keep them in the fridge for a few days.
Special thanks to Gina whose inspirational blog post on sprouting gave me the confidence to get my own sprout project going. :)