Once you start

My friend Emily has told me a lot of secrets. Usually, she tells them to me after a few glasses of wine, and usually, they involve things like the way she feels about Taylor Lautner's abs or the fact that she hasn't washed her hair for a week. But a few months ago, she divulged cold sober that she used to be the delivery girl for her parents' business—selling homegrown sprouts.

According to Emily, growing sprouts is easy, and cheap, and kind of fun. Her job was to tote the bags around to the marketplace and restaurants, walking from back doors on Main Street to the pier and up East Commercial back to town. Her parents, in the meantime, were busy filling clear containers with alfalfa seeds, and getting the growing done.

I went online the night she told me—did you know that you can order not just alfalfa sprouting seeds but also rapini broccoli sprouting seeds and green speckled peas and crimson and green lentils that will turn into sprouts as well? It was a dangerous discovery to make in the middle of the night after a few glasses of wine, but luckily, when the package arrived, there was only one small bag of plain old alfalfa sprouting seeds inside. I didn't get a chance to try them until a few weeks ago, but it's been sprout mania in this house ever since.

Here's how things work:

You arrange a layer of sprout seeds over the bottom of a clear container, like a sandwich-sized Tupperware or maybe a glass pie plate. You wet them ever so slightly, and you check on them every day. You make sure they stay moist and that they're getting plenty of sun, and in a week or two, they get huge. Your only job then is to buy some hummus, and some cheddar, and some nice sandwich bread, put a few slices in the toaster, and slap together lunch. Then, you water the next batch, make a few more sandwiches, squeal with delight, and start again.

I found out recently that you can also do the growing in a very official sprout-growing rig. My mom's friend Genie swears by hers—(once you start growing sprouts, you find out that all sorts of other people have secretly been doing it all along)—and from what I gather it has layers, sort of like stacked trays. They layers have tiny holes so that when you water the sprouts, the excess drains out, so as to keep the sprouts moist without getting them too wet.

However you decide to do things—the fancy way, or with some homemade contraption, or with plain old water and sun—be sure to take this project on. It's fun, and sort of crazy, and of course there's that stack of sandwiches to look forward to when you're done.

P.S. I have been trying to figure out how to make a homemade replacement for hummus with local beans. We have a whole heap of black turtle beans from our grain & bean csa and also a few bags of Jacob's Cattle beans from Wood Prairie Farm—so if you have any ideas, please send them along. Then we could have homegrown sprout sandwiches with locally baked bread and New England cheddar and a homemade local bean spread! I get butterflies just thinking about it.


Anonymous said...

I use the jar method with a wide mouthed (mason) jar and a straining lid (you can buy them or make your own, or use cheese cloth).
Rinse and drain 2X a day. The secret is to tip the jar at an angle in a bowl (or whatever) so the water always drains out and the seeds don't sit in any liquid. 1 T of seeds fills up the mason jar (quart).

Can I suggest you come up with an awesome easy stir fry recipe.... I threw stuff in for a stir fry lunch at least once a week all winter. It was whatever veggies I had, usually onions and carrots, some ginger and garlic, added some soy sauce, spices, sesame seeds and the sprouts.

Laura T. said...

My "hummus" dish is more of a spicy-Italian dip that actually doesn't taste too far off it's Middle Eastern cousin:

In a food processor, combine the following ingredients:
-8 oz cooked beans (any kind)
-2 big garlic cloves
-1/4 cup olive oil (maybe more if it requires more moisture)
-healthy pinch red pepper flakes
-2 tbsp grated parmesan or any other dry, salty cheese

Good as a sandwich spread or as a dip.

Andrea said...

OK, I have had sprouting seeds (alfalfa and mung beans) sitting in my pantry for way too long already! Not even sure if they are still viable or not, but I need to finally give this a go starting today! I thought you needed to do the whole rinse, strain, rinse again thing a couple of times a day. I'll give the pie plate option a try and maybe do the mason jar at the same time and see how it goes.

I'd be interested in learning more about a local "hummus" too. We make ours from scratch, but who knows where our natural foods store gets the chickpeas.

Off to soak some seeds...

Anna said...

Not sure about a bean dip (although I have been seeing some white bean dip recipes around recently...do a google search or something...Maybe food gawker too) BUT I can direct you right over to smitten kitchen where she made a sort of crushed-pea hummus the other day. It looked pretty tasty!

Natalie said...

I love making impromptu hummus with whatever is on hand, especially when I have lots of extra herbs. Try mimicking the quantities from a favorite hummus recipe and you can't go wrong. Just combine any kind of cooked beans with toasted nuts, herbs & garlic scapes, a dash of lemon or flavorful vinegar, and of course olive oil. It's wonderful to imagine an exciting combination and then create it - like butterbean walnut or fava pistachio!

Elspeth said...

You people are fantastic, did you know that?

Anonymous, I like with wide-mouth jar method idea. It sounds easy, straightforward, and the stir-fry idea makes me wish we had some bean sprouts right now.

Laura and Natalie, I tried a black bean "hummus" based on a combination of your suggestions last night. I used black beans, garlic scapes, sesame oil, salt, and a little bit of the really good butter (for creaminess) that we've been getting from the farm. It was great! Alex and I ate it on crackers with sprouts and cheddar, and it made the perfect late night snack. Thank you!

Andrea, where'd you get the mung beans? I have been looking around locally but no luck yet.

And Anna, I saw that crushed pea hummus. It looked SO good. Give the 2 pounds of peas in my fridge, maybe that's next.

All the best,

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