In just over a week I've managed to grow vegetables from seed to table. That is lightning fast. Most vegetables take at least a couple of months to become edible.
Even better, I didn't need to leave the warmth of my kitchen to do it. Pretty lucky since it's snowing on my garden (in Wellington at sea level!) as I type this.
|Yes, that's snow on my strawberry plants. Unbelievable!|
Wanna know the secret to my lightning fast vegetable turnaround? It's called sprouting! You might recall your Mum sprouting alfalfa sprouts in an Agee jar on the windowsill when you were young. It was all the rage in the 70s and 80s.
Well I don't know why it ever went out of fashion. Sprouting is easy, fast, frugal and healthy. What a great way to get extra (fresh!) vegetables into your diet in the middle of winter when they are otherwise hard to grow, and expensive to buy.
I chose to sprout mung beans because I like to use them in stir-fries and Pad Thai, plus I remember reading somewhere (possibly Nourishing Traditions), that sprouted mung beans are particularly nutritious. I found a big bag of mung beans at our local Mediterranean Food Warehouse, and I'm guessing it will last me a while judging by this week's sprouting experience.
|Un-sprouted mung beans.|
These things get a lot bigger than I was expecting. I covered the bottom of one tray with beans, but that quickly filled up so I moved half my sprouts to the tray above.
Soon that was full too so I had to move more sprouts from each of the bottom two trays to the one above, and so on. I ended up with four full trays - ate one tray when it was not quite ready, and filled that empty tray with more sprouts from the bottom three trays. I don't think it's good to move sprouts around as much as I have, as some of them broke in the process.
Check out my awesome cold meat sandwich, featuring homegrown mung bean sprouts by yours truly:
|Sandwich made with butter, tomato relish, chutney, roast beef, cheese, gherkins and mung bean sprouts.|
Health benefits of eating sprouted mung beans
(Information gathered from an Internet trawl, including Wikipedia, which was the most legit of all the sites I looked at. I can not guarantee the accuracy of the following information, but I'd say sprouted mung beans are pretty dang good for you all the same.)
- Eating sprouts in general is beneficial for our health, and mung beans are particularly good for you.
- Eating sprouts is like eating a whole miniature plant - so you get all its nutritional value - plus it's eating that plant fresh, when its most alive with nutrients.
- Sprouting mung beans makes lots of vitamins available that aren't in the bean itself, particularly A,B, C and E.
- Sprouted mung beans contain an assortment of minerals, including Calcium, Iron and Potassium.
- Mung beans (and all other legumes) are fibre-rich, which aids digestion and helps reduce your risk of colorectal cancer if eaten regularly.
- Mung beans are packed full of protein, which, combined with fibre, helps to reduce cholesterol.
- Sprouted mung beans are enzyme-rich, which also aids digestion. Note: the digestion thing is no small matter. It's not just about how easy or hard it is to go number two's, it's about how full of life and vigour you are. I read in Nourishing Traditions that a sure way to feel better is to eat enzyme-rich foods. If your gut is in good working order, the rest of you will feel better for it.
- Soak 2T of mung beans for at least ten minutes in cold water. (I didn't know to do this step and they sprouted just fine.) Drain and place in the bottom of your chosen container, whether that be a tiered plastic container like I used, or a large jar with a mesh lid.
- Pour more water on top of the beans to completely cover them. The tiered containers will allow this water to drain off, but if you're using a jar you will need to affix the mesh lid (or muslin secured in place with a screw-cap or rubber band), and then tip the jar upside down on a slight angle so it can drain into a bowl. You don't want the mung beans sitting in water, or they will rot.
- Repeat step 2 twice a day for just over a week, until the sprouts are fully grown, fat, white and crunchy.
- Wash them (just in your hands under running water works well as you can pick out any funny looking ones) to remove their green shells, and loosely pack them in an airtight container in the fridge. (Washing and chilling them reduces the risk of food-borne illnesses - which are a danger with sprouted vegetables as they grow in the same type of warm, moist environment that pathogens like.)
- They will last in the fridge about a week. Eat them raw in salads or sandwiches (raw is healthiest as they lose some of their nutritional value once cooked), or you can add them to stir-fries at the last minute, for a bit of extra crunch and nutrition.
|Day 6 - now four layers full.|
|Day 7 - Sprouting leaves.|
|Day 8 - getting taller. I'm still not sure if they're ready, so I'm letting them sprout a bit longer.|
I've linked this post to Monday Mania, Fat Tuesday and Traditional Tuesdays.