Sunday, April 16, 2017
Making Your Own Vegetable Sprouter for Microgreens and Sprouts
Many people are familiar with sprouts, such as bean sprouts or alfalfa sprouts. Generally people purchase these at the grocery store, but it is quite simple to make them at home. (Though I've made mung bean sprouts many times and mine always turn out less sweet and crunchy than the store bought type, and with a bitterness missing in the store bought ones. My alfalfa sprouts come out perfectly.)
In my grocery store, they also sell various microgreens, especially sunflower seed and lentil microgreens, which is like sprouts, but continued a little past the sprouting stage. Microgreens are sprouts taken to the next level. Sprouts generally are eaten when just a sprout starts coming out of a seed, before there are any leaves, and the entire thing is eaten. Microgreens are sprouts that you let continue growing further, so the sprout turns into a root and a stalk, with little leaflets on them. They are packed with nutrients, much more so than a mature plant of the same variety. They are used in many fancy restaurant style/gourmet dishes, and the fact that I can make these myself for next to nothing gives me a thrill.
To grow sprouts, you really don't need anything in particular- a jar with a cover works, a strainer works, or even a bowl if you rinse it well. You soak seeds in water (usually 12 hours, but some less), then strain, then rinse them well every single day, and then eat them when they're the stage you like.
However, when it comes to microgreens, you need a specific sprouter, because you want your seeds to be able to turn into little plants, necessitating having a large surface area in which they could grow.
They sell sprouters if you want to use them, but I decided to make my own.
It was super simple, and I've been eating my lentil microgreens since.
I had some free hard but disposable plastic containers that I got from my sister (who in turn got them free). You can use ice cream containers or any other wide and shallow plastic dish for this.
My husband took a drill and with a small drill head, made a bunch of holes in the bottom of this container. If you don't have a drill, you can use a hammer and small nail. The point is only to have a bunch of holes in which your water can drain out.
I then put this container filled with holes inside another identical container, and voila, a microgreens sprouter.
Essentially, to sprout microgreens, what you need to do is make sprouts (soak seeds for a set period of time, then strain and rinse every 24 hours) in this container. After soaking, every single day you'll need to rinse it very well (place it under running water) and then when it finishes dripping most of the way, put it inside its nesting container to catch any other drips. You want to have a flat, single later of seeds filling the bottom of your container to start with. Any more and you'll be wasting your seeds, because the microgreens on the bottom layer will begin to rot.
Continue doing this for about 10-15 days, or until the microgreens are the height and taste that you want. Usually after 5 days you'll start seeing roots and leaves, and it no longer looks like sprouts, but mini mini microgreens. You can eat this at whatever stage you like, I just find 10-15 days to be best for eating as microgreens.
If you prefer sprouts to microgreens, you can use this container for sprouts as well.
Use scissors to trim your microgreens to eat.
I have noticed that once I trim my microgreens they do not grow back, so when you trim the entire tray of microgreens, stick what is left in the compost and start over.
I've thoroughly been enjoying my lentil microgreens in salads. They are slightly bitter and slightly spicy, so when paired with something sweet like beets, they are the perfect touch,
Now that I've made microgreens with green lentils, I plan on trying them with buckwheat groats, quinoa, sunflower seeds, and mustard seeds.
If you want tips and advice on how long to soak different seeds before sprouting, or to get ideas for what seeds work well as microgreens, I find Sproutpeople.org to be a great resource. There's a handy search feature there, as well as lists of seeds that can be used for sprouts on the side.
Are you a fan of sprouts or microgreens? What type do you enjoy eating? Do you usually buy them or make them yourselves? If you make them yourselves, what do you usually use to sprout them?