p1100124Eating fresh greens can be a challenge in winter, especially if you favor locally grown produce. Around here, even lettuce survives because we rarely get frost and almost never a hard freeze. But if you are in harsher climes and want to add some fresh crunch plus vitamins to your salads, consider growing sprouts.

Back in the hippy dippy days of the ’70s, my mom experimented with growing sprouts. The contraption was environmentally awful plastic and the process was way too complicated. I think it was for soybean sprouts, which were extremely exotic at the time. I think we did it once, maybe twice. Then it joined the yogurt maker and other good intentions in the basement.p1100091My all-natural sister-in-law presented me a sprout kit over a year ago, and it has gotten a good workout, especially in winter. It’s from Nature et Découvertes, and has a pleasing design–an elegant glass container with a metal mesh insert. That’s all. p1100087All it takes is a single teaspoon of alfalfa seeds (called luzerne in French). You can use other seeds as well–red cabbage, radish, cilantro…high in vitamins!p1100093You soak the seeds for half an hour in a cup of cold water.p1100096Then spread them over the mesh so they’re in a single layer.p1100103Fill the glass bowl with water up to the mesh.

Wait. You have to change the water every day until you’ve eaten all your sprouts.p1100120It takes only a couple of days to have a crop. We pull out what we need to add to salads or garnish a plate, and the rest keeps growing. We eat the whole thing, but some people cut off the roots.p1100062The process didn’t work so well in summer–it gets too hot and the water goes bad too quickly. But in summer there are so many other fresh things to eat.

I love having a microgarden of microgreens growing on my countertop. They make me smile. However, where did this word “microgreens” come from? What was wrong with “sprouts”?

I like knowing that no chemicals are used. Plus they’re about as fresh as you can get.

Have you grown sprouts? How do you keep your cooking fresh in winter? Do you have any tales of trends from decades ago that are back?p1100126


41 thoughts on “Sprouting in Winter

  1. Do you have a source for your sprout grower? I don’t speak or read French. I connected to the link you provided, but couldn’t shop because it is written in French! I love the size and configuration of yours. Thanks!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Ah, Natures et Découvertes! Their selection never fails to impress me, and I consider myself lucky if I can spend thirty minutes at one of their stores and leave empty-handed. I failed again during the Holidays and bought several small Christmas gifts there for myself and others 😉 I must confess I have never grown (or considered growing) sprouts, yet yours look quite appealing. Hmmm… I may give this a try once I am permanently Paris-based, and I have a place to live — Finding the elusive long term apartment rental in the French capital may prove more challenging than growing my own sprouts. 😉 Always a pleasure to visit your blog, Catherine. Bonne année à Carcassonne. I certainly hope we can meet in person this year. Veronique (French Girl in Seattle)

    Liked by 2 people

    1. For Veronique:
      It’s quite difficult to find a long-term rental until you are already in Paris, so maybe start off in an AirBnB for a month or two. Be sure to get all your paperwork ready, demonstrating that your monthly income is at least three times the rent you propose to pay. Then keep looking at seloger.com and pap.fr. Good luck!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Merci Ellen. Done and done. Still, without the all-important CDI and 6 months’ worth of pay slips in France (where I have not had a life in 23 years even if I am a French native,) things will get very challenging very fast. I am planning to freelance for most of 2019. This is not going to help 😉 Wait and see.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Sorry, Veronique. I should have read more carefully. As you are French, of course you know all this. Thought you were an American in Seattle and that “French girl” was a moniker or alter ego!

          Liked by 1 person

      1. So, I went to Nature et Decouverte in Beziers last Saturday. They had sold out of the sprouters you have, but they had one left which was made from “environmentally friendly” plastic! It feels more like bakelite than plastic. So I bought it, and I’m waiting for my first batch to sprout….

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Maybe it was recycled. I was looking for bamboo toothbrushes, but didn’t find any. However, I did find toothbrushes made of 100% recycled plastic, plus the bio shop has a box to bring back your old toothbrushes to be recycled. Reasonable. Plus, I learned that bamboo toothbrushes are susceptible to mold problems.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. I think a mouldy toothbrush would be pretty bad for you 🙂 ! They guy at Nature et Decouverte told me that there was no BPA (?) in the “plastic” and it feels much harder than regular plastic. I have a feeling that it would break if dropped on the floor!

            Liked by 1 person

  3. My parents used to grow their own vegetables- at least those items that weren’t so readily available in the grocers. That ended in retirement when the deer got into the garden. I don’t think Dad was that annoyed when he said he’d planted his last vegetable garden; I think he always disliked it.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I used to grow sprouts, mostly alfalfa (which I really don’t like any more), back in the 70s. I just used a big mason jar with a screen insert in the canning lid, filled it with water once a day and emptied it out, and in a few days I had sprouts, which would then go into the frig so they wouldn’t rot. It was very easy and I didn’t need a contraption to do it. Do you not get frost in Carcassonne? I am near Carpentras and we have had frost down to -5 at times, every night for the last two weeks!
    bonnie in provence

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I saw quite a few of the mason jar screens online.
      We rarely get frost here. So far we had frost on the cars only once this year and the cold snap has ended (9.5 C right now–almost 50 F). And we very rarely get a hard freeze.


  5. I use a bent-up fine screen sieve and a pie plate – works perfectly. Not as lovely as yours but gets the job done and I feel less guilty about having carelessly smashed the sieve. Very nice to have sprouts if we don’t have cucumber or something to add to a plain green salad – I do a lot of sliced turkey and avocado lettuce roll ups, they’re really nice for those, too.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. I’m happy to know the sprout growing process has improved since the hippy dippy 70’s. I picked up some Pad Thai the other day, and the sprouts are perhaps my favorite ingredient. Love this idea. I’m going to have to give it a try!

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Hey, who you calling hippy dippies?
    Alfalfa is also good for you. Lots of nutrients and antioxidants, and it benefits skin and nails, plus works against arthritis and high cholesterol. Which doesn’t mean that one little batch will magically cure everything, just that it is a healthy diet addition.
    And if you’re *really* into sprouting, there’s this source: https://sproutman.com/

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I sprouted various beans and seeds in the late ’70s and early ’80s, but I just used an empty jar (well-cleaned, of course) and cheesecloth secured across the top by an elastic band. The seeds sprouted inside the jar (after first being soaked for a few hours?) and then the jar was drained (with the sprouting seeds safely held behind the cheesecloth) and water refreshed. After that the jar was drained again and kept in a dark-ish spot, with the cheesecloth end of the jar tipped into a bowl so that it continued to drain, if that makes sense.
    At the moment, while it’s dipping to around or below freezing at night here, we nonetheless are able to harvest chard from the terrace of our condo, in a busy urban neighbourhood. Not that we’re chopping the grocery bill by doing this, but it’s fun and reassuring to grow something of what we eat, even in winter, isn’t it?!

    Liked by 1 person

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