This title is from an unknown author, but it is a fitting quote to start the new year. Yes, it’s winter and the ground is hard as a rock, but we can still garden inside our home.

Exercise your winter green thumb by growing sprouts and microgreens that are fresh and highly nutritious. You don’t have to give up greens in the winter –keep them growing year-round.

In the past, Salmonella outbreaks surrounded commercially grown sprouts sold at grocery store chains and caused a huge controversy. There were many recalls and while the problem was finally eradicated, the public relations concerning commercial sprouts did a lot of damage.

However, that gave a rise in popularity for sprouting at home where the gardener can monitor with complete control. Sprouting at home is economical and smart.

Facts about growing sprouts

• Eating or juicing sprouts helps to cleanse the liver and kidneys, cleanses the blood, aids digestion, keeps blood sugar under control, alleviates some aches and pains from arthritis and a host of other maladies.

• Sprouts are ready to eat in 5-7 days.

• Sprouting takes little space. A wide mouth quart Mason jar will yield 4 cups of sprouts from an ounce of small seeds. A half cup of larger seeds such as Mung beans, peas, or garbanzo beans will produce about 3-4 cups of sprouts.

• Sprouts are packed with vitamins, enzymes, minerals, amino acids, essential fatty acids and protein.

• Popular sprouting seeds are alfalfa, Mung beans, clover, radish, broccoli, and sunflower, just to name a few. The list of viable seeds to sprout is immense.

• The whole plant is eaten, usually raw, although some sprouts are lightly cooked.

• Safety: When seeds or beans become moist, germination begins and a chemical change occurs. Carbon dioxide and other gases create heat within the jar. These are waste products that must be rinsed from the germinating seeds and beans and completely drained at least twice a day. The jar of sprouts must be kept in a shaded and aerated area during the process.

Caution: Never eat seeds or sprouts that have even a tiny bit of mold. Growing mold can produce mycotoxins, which can cause food poisoning.

How to grow sprouts

• Purchase food grade organic seeds, beans and grains from a health food store or a store that specializes in sprouting. Seeds specifically marketed for sprouting are untreated and free of chemicals and fungicides. Remember, the best seeds grow the best sprouts.

• Use a wide mouth Mason jar. Cover the seeds with water and soak overnight.

• Drain the water and rinse with cool water, letting it completely drain. Rinse and drain at least two times a day. (In warmer weather, additional rinsing may be necessary.)

• Let the jar rest at a slight angle so that any excess water can drain off. Keep the jar shaded with a cloth but allow the air to circulate easily.

• The seeds begin to germinate and start to develop shoots very quickly.

• On the final day when the sprouts are about two inches long, place the jar in sunlight so the leaves will make chlorophyll and turn green.

• Do not rinse but spread them on a clean cloth to soak off the excess water. Time to eat. Store in the fridge in a bowl or container that gives them room and air circulation. The sprouts will stay fresh for about a week.

What are microgreens?

What’s the difference between sprouts and microgreens?

(To be continued)

Have a Happy Healthy New Year!

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