Sprout It: How to Cook Sprouts

| December/January 1996

Sprout Recipes:

Fish Soup with Cellophane Noodles and Fenugreek Sprouts
Pasta with Basil Sprouts, Garlic and Tomato 

How easy is it to rush to and fro in our busy lives and overlook the obvious. For instance, bean sprouts may be a mainstay in stir-fries and alfalfa sprouts commonplace on salads, but it never crossed my mind to use herb sprouts until someone suggested it to me. During the winter when fresh-herb options are limited, the thought of having fresh-herb flavor, inexpensively and easily, sounded irresistible to me.

A trip to the garden yielded ripened seeds from various herbs. In my hippie days, I’d started many a batch of sprouts, using mason jars with special lids or special sprouting bags, but I knew all I really needed was a glass jar, some sort of strainer, and a few minutes each day. And so the experimenting began. Some weeks and assorted successes and failures later, I’m happy to report that herb sprouts are definitely worth the time. Just follow these simple instructions.

Choosing Seeds

Besides mung bean and alfalfa, seeds commonly used for sprouting include adzuki bean, barley, buckwheat, cole vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, etc.), chia, clover, garbanzo bean, lentil, millet, oat, pea, quinoa, radish, rice, rye, soybean, sunflower, triticale, and wheat. Taking a cue from these, I chose culinary herbs with relatively large seeds that normally germinate quickly, such as basils, chives and garlic chives, cress, dill, fennel, fenugreek, and sesame.

The least expensive way to acquire herb seeds for sprouting is to gather them from your own garden. Wait until they are dry and ripe, then gently tilt the seed head into an open paper bag and cut it off. Put the bag in a warm, dry place, and within a few days, most of the seeds will have fallen to the bottom of the bag. For stubborn seeds, gently rub the seed heads between your fingers over the open bag. If not using the seeds immediately, store them in a tightly covered, clean glass jar in a cool, dark place. If mold appears on some seeds, discard the batch and be more careful next time that seeds are dry before storing.

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