23 September 2009
In The Garden With the Fluvanna Master Gardeners
By Irene C. Burke - Fluvanna Master Gardener
Fluvanna County Extension Office: 434.591.1950
As late-season vegetables build their buds and roots, we yearn for a food, a flower, anything that grows more quickly and defiantly. Lets have something wholesome but chaotic, a blooming band of green tangles. Lets do edible sprouts.
Seed candidates and sources
The list of easily sprouted seeds, beans and nuts includes: Barley, buckwheat, celery, corn, dill, fenugreek, lentils, lettuce, mung beans, onion, parsley, pumpkin, quinoa, radish, rye, sesame, squash, sunflower (raw) and wheat. All are readily found, along with supplies, online and at health food stores.
When your goal is rapid results with minimum mess and maximum food safety, try sprouting between two moist paper towels. Earthen sprouting requires light potting soil and misting; sprouts are sheared rather than up-rooted.
The sprouting jar with screened top is the cleanest, simplest, and most convenient; however, some people use muslin sprouting bags or plastic terraced towers. Health food stores typically carry fine to coarse opening screen-tops for mason or mayo jars. One may substitute clean nylon, window screening, porous tee-shirt cotton, even pantyhose, for very small seeds like quinoa, or cheesecloth. Avoid metal, which corrodes.
Depending on jar size, measure 2 tablespoons to a cup of seeds into the jar. After capping, rinse seeds with cool water until clear. To drain, tilt the jar over a basin at a slight angle, screen-side-down. Continue rinsing at 8 to 24-hour intervals, depending on seed size and sprouting time. Use the rinse and drain water for the garden. The larger the seed or bean, the quicker it decays; be vigilant.
Taste-test your sprouts until youre pleased, then harvest. While seed hulls are nourishing they have a stronger flavor and may be rinsed away with a coarser-gauge screen. After a final rinse, store the sprouts in a separate container in the refrigerator. Seeds may be sprouted in darkness or partial light, but there are more health benefits from green sprouts.
On May 15, 2009 the FDA and CDC updated its April 27th recommendation that consumers not eat raw alfalfa sprouts, including sprout blends containing alfalfa sprouts because the product had been linked to Salmonella serotype Saintpaul contamination. The FDA, CDC, and state and local health departments worked together to trace the illnesses to contaminated alfalfa seeds imported from a firm in Italy distributed by the Caudill Seed Company in Louisville, KY, which has voluntarily withdrawn the seeds from the market. Seed lots that are potentially contaminated begin with 032 and are followed by a hyphen and three more digits.
Other types of sprouts have not been implicated; however, The FDA and CDC recommend that people in these high-risk groups always avoid all types of raw or lightly cooked sprouts and any products that contain them. For more information on high-risk groupssee http://www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/PublicHealthFocus/ucm151049.htm.
Safe food handling
Wash containers thoroughly, mixing a gallon of hot soapy water with 1/8th cup of bleach followed by a hot water rinse, then air-dry. Never use seeds from poisonous plants, or seeds that are moldy or old. Discard any sprouts that are mildewed or have a sour smell.
Tip of the Week
According to Cristina Milesi, a remote-sensing scientist at California State University-Monterey Bay, "Lawns are the single-largest irrigated crop in the United States, three-times more than corn." Dr. Milesi also indicated that the carbon dioxide sequestration offset of turf does not justify the water used to keep a lawn lush; so irrigating lawns cannot be considered a sustainable landscape practice, because more resources are removed from the environment than added.