Tuesday Night Fermentation Club: Sprouting and Growing

17 Feb

So I’ve talked your ear off in the past regarding the wonders of and myriad uses for fermentation.  I decided to continue the fermentation love this week and start a simple sprouting project.  Double S and I went to Vashon Island for Valentine’s Day, and as we somehow always manage to do, ended up in a natural food store there.  We see things in bins all the time here in Seattle, but for some reason the signs and suggestions at Minglement really got our minds going.  We bought these there and decided to do some sprouting.

Sprout Ease Econo Sprouters!

Now technically you should be able to sprout with just a jar, water, and some cheesecloth or a fine mesh strainer.  We have not had luck with this in the past, so we were looking for a new technique.  We got these plastic jar toppers that screw onto mason jars.  They come in three sizes for strainings (the lids all fit the same size wide mouthed mason/ball jars).  We also heard about sprouting bags, possibly made from hemp, but didn’t find them anywhere.  Anyone have any luck with these?  Upon our return to Seattle, we went to our local PCC to purchase some organic seeds to sprout.

So what to sprout?  At the farmer’s market in the past we have discovered sunflower sprouts/sunflower greens. Have you had sunflower sprouts?  These things are delicious.  If you’re thinking that you don’t like sprouts enough to bother with actual sprouting, I would have agreed in the past had I not had sunflower spouts.  Other sprouts I’ve had have been decidedly meh.  I’m looking at you, mung bean sprouts. We decided to try sunflower seeds, garbanzo beans and alfalfa seeds.  But what I want to recommend is sprouting sunflower seeds.

I love the bulk bins!

Sunflower sprouts, or sunnies, are a taste sensation.  Crunchy and green, with an underlying nuttiness.  They also pack a nutritional punch to the face!  They’re 25% protein and are a rich source of vitamins A, B complex, D, and E and minerals including calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus and zinc.

Finished sunflower sprouts

Getting the delicious, long sprouts is a two step process.  First, you soak, then you “plant” and wait.

How to grow sunflower sprouts:

Start by obtaining unshelled preferably organic sunflower seeds.  That is, the black sunflower seeds that still have the shells on them.  If you have to google this, you will drive yourself crazy, as there are as many people saying use hulled as are saying use unhulled.

Soaked one night

Like this.  Don’t say I didn’t warn you about silk outfits, really strange hair and overuse of indoor fans.  What the hell was happening at the tail end of the 90s?

When I Google “sprouting” / I drive myself crazy/ Drive myself crazy / Trying to sproooooouuuuttt.

Anywho, the answer is that there are sunflower greens and sunflower sprouts.  To get either one, you start by soaking and sprouting.  The difference is what happens next.  To get the long sprouts, you must use the sunflower seeds in the black shells.  Still in the shells=unhulled.  You’ll thank me for that later.

I read several different techniques for sprouting and growing sunnies.  I used the instructions here and went from there.

  1. First, soak your unhulled sunflower seeds overnight or at least 8-12 hours.
  2. The next day, prepare your sprouting area.  Find a box or unused drawer or better yet one of those plant flats you get from the nursery.  It needs to have drainage holes in the bottom, the deets are up to you.  Fill it with about 1-3 inches of good potting soil.  Preferably organic.  I amended mine with a bit of finished compost.
  3. Upcycle those old nursery flats!

  4. Scatter the soaked and lightly sprouted seeds onto the soil.  Press them lightly down onto the soil.
  5. Lightly sprinkle the soil with water and cover with three layers of wet paper towels.
  6. Hurry up and wait!

  7. Water once a day for the next few days, through the paper towel, until the sprouts begin to push up on the paper towel.  Do not let the paper towel get dry.    This will take a few days.  Keep in a dark place.
  8. When the sprouts begin to rise up with fists, remove the paper towel and put into the sunniest spot in your house.
  9. Listen to this good and fitting song.  OK.

  10. Water the sprouts daily.  I found that a spray misting bottle works best.  You can harvest them as they grow–cut with a scissors right above the soil line.  Store any excess in the fridge–don’t rinse them before storage.  Eat within a week or so–great on salads and sandwiches.

You Don’t Win Friends With Salad!

Yes you can!

On this Tuesday in Seattle it was beautiful.  When it’s sunny here in February, you best get outside and enjoy it.  A few sunny days will make you think it’s spring.  You will quickly realize that it’s not as you soon get a chill that will last all night.  Double S and I have been having this problem.  We’re prepping the yard for growing season, but it’s still a long way away for us.  We’re antsy to grow.  By the by, if you’re in Seattle and you do have a ready garden plot, get your peas planted now!  You’ll have a ton of them soon!  Don’t forget to build a cool trellis for them to loll around on come April/May!

Our yard is not ready, so I’m getting my grow on (dated slang alert!) by growing salad microgreens in the house.  This was another project that didn’t take long.  I got this idea from this magazine.  Thanks for the Xmas present, Double S’s bro!

This is how you grow it!

One of my favorite scenes from the funniest show of the 09-10 viewing season thus far.

How To Grow Microgreens in Your House:

1.  Prepare your planting medium.  Get another seed flat from the nursery (they usually give these away at nurseries and garden stores).  You can also use take out containers, or the clear plastic containers that house salad greens and veggies from places like Trader Joe’s.  How wasteful is all the packaging at TJ’s?  Answer: Very.  Anyway, make sure whatever it is that you use has holes at the bottom and sides for drainage.

2.  Fill it with 1-3 inches of potting soil.  I used organic soil, again, and also amended with a little finished compost.

This flat is ready for seeds.

3.  Press the soil down with a small piece of cardboard.

4.  Scatter seeds on soil.  Use seeds for salad greens–any mesclun or salad green seed mix will work.

My friend growandresist made these seed packages. Thanks friend!

It's a dity job but someone'e gotta do it!

Sprinkle in a single layer, all over the soil.

5.  Press down on the seedswith a piece of small cardboard, folded to fit.

Just press lightly, you will cover the seeds soon.

6.  Using a fine metal sieve, add just a little potting soil to the top of the seeds by pressing it through the sieve.  About 1/8 of an inch of soil will do.  This was the longest part of the process.  I wonder if a sifter could do this?  I had to push really hard to get the soil through our sieve.  Maybe it was our sieve.  Anyway, the resulting soil is very fine.

The resulting sifted soil looks like espresso grounds.

6.  Make sure the flat is on a drip tray and let this grow for a few days.  You can harvest the greens in about 10-14 days.  Just use a scissors and cut right above the soil line.

Your result will be salad microgreens.  Very nutritious!

From what I’ve read, you can use the same soil to start again and have a continuous harvest of delicate and delicious greens for salads and sammys.  You do, however, need to pull the remaining roots and stems from the soil and use new seeds.  I’ll keep you posted as to how they turn out!

Updates on the fruits of past Tuesday night clubs:

The Indian lime pickle is awesome.  It’s been smelling great for a long while, but tonight we ate it for the first time.  Plain and simple, with just rice and yogurt: curd rice.  It was amazing.  Intense and highly spicy!  And made in a Seattle winter!  In your face, people who think it can only be made in the sun and heat!  All you need is the warmth!  Since I had the seed planing mat for the kombucha, I sat this jar on that heating mat since last Thursday.  I think this will only get better as the lime pieces continue to soften.  If you like Indian pickle and don’t like all the oil, do try the recipe.

The kombucha is almost ready.  It’s been sitting on the seedling heating mat now since late Thursday.

One week old kombucha. Is this the little SCOBY I carried? Is this the little SCOBY at play? You can see the bubbles (good sign) and the baby forming on top.

I tasted it last night and it was still just a tad too sweet.  I tasted it tonight and it was perfect.  I removed it from the heating pad and poured in into old GT bottles, with 3/4 headspace.  I will let this sit and give it a chance to develop those needed bubbles.  According to Communi-Tea, store the bottles at room temperature for up to two weeks, then refrigerate.

And now, the February Can Jam challenge is due.  As per usual, I’m canning at the last minute.  Actually, re-canning.  But I’ll tell you more about that later.

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One Response to “Tuesday Night Fermentation Club: Sprouting and Growing”

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Tuesday Night Pickling Club: Pickled Sunchokes « oh, briggsy… - March 31, 2010

    […] that special something, that delicious nutty taste.     The sprouts are good, as I’ve blogged, the seeds are great for spitting or putting in salads–try a salad and add sunflower seeds […]

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