Sprouts

Back in Winter I developed a bit of a thing for Ottolenghi’s amazing cookbook, PLENTY, and enthusiastically made loads of the recipes in it. However one recipe called for alfalfa sprouts, which I didn’t have, and which I couldn’t find anywhere local. I had a brainwave that I should just grow my own, and set about devising a sprouter in which to do this.

I have always found that linen bags and suchlike go mouldy; ditto elastic bands and muslin over the top of jars. However I remembered having had a jar at some point with a stainless steel mesh lid, through which water might easily be passed several times a day, for the rinsing of young sprouts.

Mark got me a couple of Kilner jars from Morrisons, and I ordered sheets of stainless steel mesh from ebay, and cut circles of the mesh to fit the Kilner jars. Easy peasy!

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Sadly the alfalfa sprouts which were the intended focus for this activity have only turned mouldy every time I’ve tried to sprout them in these jars. The seeds are a little old, the only available sill for sprouting is a bit poor for sunlight, and the gelatinous mush that the alfalfa seeds release during their sprouting process makes them adhere to the mesh and react with the metal. All a bit manky.

However I’ve had much better luck raiding the local shops for sacks of pulses, and last week sprouted some beautiful Cow Peas and Urid Beans, which Wikipedia reveal to be Azuki Beans and Black Lentils, respectively. They are so tasty and they make me feel a bit more connected to all the sense of growth in the garden beyond. They also satisfy my impatience as I poke at all the squashes, beans and suchlike that I’ve planted, wondering why I can’t see any shoots yet.

I have been rinsing them out several times a day and literally watching them grow in the Spring sunshine!

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The Ottolenghi salad that was the original impetus for this activity involves mixing up peeled matchsticks of kohlrabi with thin slices of white cabbage. To this you add dried, sour cherries, finely cut fresh dill, crushed garlic, salt, white pepper, and lemon zest + lemon juice. You leave it all to soak so that the sour cherries soften, and then at last minute fold your delicate, freshly washed sprouts into the mix.

It’s the taste of Spring, I say. What I love best is that I grew the bulk of it on my kitchen window sill. BONUS!

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