Thursday, January 7, 2010

Fresh Greens in the Great White North

It can be difficult to eat local when you live in a country that is covered with ice for a good portion of the year, especially when it comes to fresh produce. My resolve to eat seasonally weakens when my body begins to crave fresh greens and I have to walk quickly by the produce section of the grocery store so I don't get tempted by things like green beans from California and asparagus from South America. I confess I caved last week and bought fresh dandelion greens but I justified them as medicinal- my liver was suffering from a overdose of holiday treats!

January is usually the most challenging - it's the point in the year where I'm looking less than longingly at the pile of root veggies, the stash of frozen, dried and pickled things from last summer is dwindling and it's too early to start planning for the gardens of this summer. Last Christmas my sister gifted me with a sprouting kit and it's been a godsend. Sprouts don't care if there's not enough daylight or it's minus 11 out! All they require is water and a place to start growing. The kit is simplicity in itself- a jar, some netting to cover the opening, an elastic band to hold the netting in place and some seeds that will sprout.

My original kit included a spicy lentil mix- green lentils, mustard seeds, radish seeds and non GMO canola. I experimented with all kinds of different seeds and dried legumes and found everything was a success. My favourites include arugula, soybeans, mixed lettuces and mustard seeds- I like things with a bit of bite. Sprouted chickpeas are delicious and apparently make a mean hummus but I've yet to try it- I keep eating the sprouts right out of the jar.

Here's the step by step directions:

Start with a clean jar. Place 1-2 teaspoons of seed mix in the bottom. Cover the jar mouth with netting- my kit included a 5" square of tulle but any soft netting would work. Secure to the top of jar with elastic.

Fill jar with cold water, shake and drain. Fill again and allow seeds to soak overnight.

Next day drain water and then refill with fresh cold water. Shake the jar gently to loosen any clumped seeds and drain. Place jar in a bowl so that it sits at a an angle to drain the remaining water. Put the bowl in a warm spot- I use a sunny window sill but they really don't even need the light.

Rinse the sprouts as above every morning and evening- I put the whole jar in the sink and let cold water run for about 30 secs, making sure any clumps are loosened. Drain and place back in the bowl. Make sure to rinse the bowl out every time too or it will begin to smell unpleasant. You will begin to see sprouts as soon as the first day!

In 3-4 days you will have a lovely mess of sprouts ready to eat! You can remove them all from the jar at this point and refrigerate - they'll last up to a week if properly stored. I have left them in the jar to continue growing a few days more but eventually they begin to need more nutrients and start to deteriorate. Easier to start a fresh jar!

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