Standing on my deck, the sun is shining, the snow is melting, I take a deep breath in and fill my lungs with the beautiful fresh air of spring (ahhh). I love the spring; it is full of possibility and potential. Nature is showing evidence that it too is finished with being bundled up, as everything is getting ready to sprout! I’ve got my seeds ready and I am excited to get my hands in the soil. But, why wait for the perfect conditions in the great outdoors when you can enjoy the amazing flavours of new spouts (or greens) anytime of year?
Unlike me, Cathy Munro at Bramble Hill Farm has been reaping (and sharing) the beautiful bounty of her greens and salad veggies all winter! Some of you may have even enjoyed the delights of her labour while picking up a bag of green goodness from the New Glasgow Farmers market; consider yourself lucky if you have since she sells out each and every week! Cathy found her passion for farming after a move back east several years ago. They purchased an 1800s farmhouse not farm from Greenhill. She and her husband toiled to bring the tired but loving home back to life and set their intentions of being true to the era of their new/old home to produce as much of their own food as they could just the way things used to be.
Today they are producing more than enough organic greens for their growing family and have established a faithful clientele at the markets and also supply a few local restaurants. Cathy thrives with this “radical homemaker” lifestyle through her business and she is loving it!
So the question is, if we want to get a head start on summer and begin enjoying fresh homegrown food now where do we begin? I believe that the answer is sprouts. They may be small, but sprouts are intensely flavourful, ranging from sweet to spicy to tart to sour. Having so much nutrients and flavour in such a small shoot really packs a punch. It only takes five to six days to reap the benefits of the harvest, so you may enjoy the instant gratification of growing your own food.
To begin any new venture, when it comes to life as a foodie, I stand firm to the belief that you must source the best quality ingredients. I had a great conversation with Cathy about sprouting and she was happy to share that her source for seeds is a homegrown Canadian company who offers organic, non-GMO seeds, Mumm’s.
With Cathy’s advice I looked up Mumm’s Sprouting Seeds online and was delighted to find a bounty of information on sprouting, including ordering the seeds to growing for yourself. I felt like I had hit the jackpot as a beginner sprout grower, their advice:
How To Sprout (according to the experts at sprouting.com)
Here’s what you need:
- A jar, 1 litre to 4 litre (1 qt. to gallon) size, depending on your appetite for sprouts.
- A bowl or something that allows you to invert the jar at an angle.
- Some screen or netting with a rubber band
- Fresh water. If you would drink the water then it is fine to use!
- Seeds with good germination, preferably grown organically for human consumption.
- here are also numerous other methods such as a SproutMaster Tray or Hemp Bag. It’s as easy as following the directions provided!
- Next, soak the seed: If you have chosen to sprout in a jar you can soak the seed in the same jar. If not, any sterile container will do. Use about one cup of water to every tablespoon of seed.
- Broccoli and related plants, cabbage, kale, radish etc. 2 to 3 hours
- Other small seeds 2 to 6 hours. Large seeds, peas, lentils, grain, etc. 6 to 12 hours
- Mucilaginous seeds cress, arugula, chia, flax, basil – do not soak, just mist to
- Remember, these are ideal soak times but if in doubt soak less rather than more.
- If you do over soak, just carry on. Sprouts are very forgiving!
- Rinse and drain 2 or 3 times each day with fresh cold water and invert the jar on an angle to allow excess water to drain.
- And lastly… enjoy! Place the finished sprouts in as sink of cold water and swirl to separate the hulls. The hulls are fine to eat but your sprouts will look much better without! Remove sprouts by the handful, rinsing under the tap. Most hulls should be left in the sink. Drain the sprouts and allow to dry for a few hours before storing in fridge.
It’s one thing to read about sprouting, but now I’m excited to try it. While chatting with Cathy I asked her what her absolute favourite recipe is for adding sprouts.? The answer, scrambled eggs with broccoli sprouts! So wish me luck, I am going to try sprouting for myself; if all go sideways I know I can always rely on Brambill Hill Farms (see you at the market).
Shoot! I thought you were a sprout!
That’s ok. A lot of people get their sprouts and shoots and shoots and sprouts mixed up. Yes, they are both plant material but they are each harvested at different growing stages.
Cathy Munro of Bramble Hill Farm cultivates both sprouts and shoots.
“Sprouts are germinated in water. They take less than a week to grow from the time they are soaked and placed in a jar to germinate to their harvest time.
Sprouts are little plants before they get to the leafy stage. Some sprouts like broccoli spouts need a little light before they are harvested and it will give them a light green colour. This is chlorophyll which also increase the nutritional property of the sprout,” says Cathy.
Shoots also grow from a seed but they are planted in soil. They take a little longer to grow anywhere from 1-3 weeks depending on the variety. They are harvested just after they start to release their first two little baby leaves. Shoots are also referred to as micro-greens. In the veggie world these little micro-greens pack a big nutritional punch. Cathy grows a variety of micro-greens at her farm. Her spicy mix, a blend of radish, sunflower and pea shoots is a favourite for most of her clients.
So remember if you want a little crunch go for the sprouts and if you are trying to up the ante on your veggie quota go big on the micro-greens.