The Q&A Archives: Growing Edible Sprouts With Kids

Question: I'm interested in growing edible sprouts with my kids indoors. Which ones are edible and how should we do it?

Answer: There are many types of seeds to sprout and eat, so you and your child may want to experiment with different kinds to see which ones you like best. Be sure that the seeds you purchase are specifically intended for this purpose and have not been chemically treated (with a fungicide to prevent rotting at planting time, for instance). Here are some seeds you might want to try sprouting:

mung beans

Here's a simple method of seed sprouting that children can enjoy: Sprinkle some seeds on a single layer, damp paper towel, fold the paper towel in half, wrap it in plastic so it stays moist, and set it in a warm location (70 degrees F is ideal) out of direct sunlight. Check it every day, and when the seeds sprout (usually within about three days or so) peel them off the towel right away, rinse and eat.

If you want to let the sprouts grow larger before you eat them, you will need to use a more elaborate procedure. You could use a commercial seed sprouting kit, or simply use a wide-mouthed jar covered with nylon, plastic mesh, or cheesecloth held in place with a rubber band. Special screens are also sold, usually in health food stores, to fit standard canning jars.

To begin, soak about a tablespoon of seeds in plain water overnight, then pour off the water. Rinse the seeds twice in cool water, draining out the excess through the screen. Repeat the rinsing and draining twice a day, morning and evening, to keep the seeds fresh. Older children can be relied upon to do this, but younger children may need help, especially if the jar is made of glass.

The seeds should sprout in a few days and can remain in the jar for about four more days. Rinse the sprouts daily. Some sprouts are more bitter than others, and children seem to be more sensitive to the bitterness than adults Your child may prefer some of the mild-flavored sprouts, such as mung bean and alfalfa.

If you grow the sprouts in a bright location, they will be green. When grown in the dark, they are pale and may be less flavorful. Rinse the sprouts well before eating, but you don't need to separate out the hulls. You can store leftovers in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for a few days. Sprouts make great snacks for kids and can even be packed in lunch boxes!

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