Make your own sprouter: a great project for kids

Spring is around the corner and soon we’ll have some fresh veggies. While you wait, why not grow your own right on your kitchen counter? (What could be more local than that?) Sprouting seeds is a quick (and cheap) way to add some fresh food to your diet.

Here’s how to make an easy seed sprouter out of recycled materials.

What you’ll need:

  • Mason jar with matching ring (and lid, for tracing)
  • plastic lid from a food container (like a large yogurt container)
  • hole puncher that creates small holes
  1. Trace the jar lid onto the plastic lid. Cut out the circle that you made.
  2. Use the hole puncher to make holes all over the plastic circle. Punch carefully so that you don’t overlap the holes.
  3. Fit the plastic lid into the metal ring.
  4. Twist it on your jar and voila! You have now made a homemade seed sprouter.

Add your seeds of choice to the bottom of the jar and allow to soak, covered in water, for about 8 hours. After that, you’ll need to rinse and drain your seeds twice a day. (Use that handy lid that you made to drain out the water completely.)

A couple of weeks ago, I helped my class to make sprouters. Each student made one, and we sprouted  mung beans, which I just picked up in the bulk aisle. When I tried it at home, it took 3 tablespoons of seeds and about 5 days to grow enough sprouts to fill the jar.  At school, we soaked our seeds on Monday and had enough to eat for lunch on Friday. The room was a little cooler, so the sprouts were not as plump as when I grow them at home, but they were definitely edible.

  • For information on different seeds that can be sprouted, try here.
  • What can you do with your sprouts? How about egg rolls or homegrown fried rice?

Many thanks to D. who helped my class stir fry up our sprouts for lunch!


Fried Rice with Homegrown Sprouts

My new obsession: fried rice. It makes a great lunch or dinner for one and can be a handy way to use up little bits of vegetables left in your fridge. But what is fried rice without bean sprouts? This conviction led me to look into growing my own.

Growing sprouts on your kitchen counter is not hard. I was given a little kit fried riceas a gift, and it inspired me to start experimenting. If you’re interested in learning the ins and outs of growing sprouts, I’d recommend that you check out Fresh Food From Small Spaces, a multi-purpose gardening and food book with an informative chapter on sprouting. You do not need a kit and there are few easy methods to choose from. My kit, however, came with some very easy directions: 1)select your desired sprouts 2)place them on the tray 3)rinse and drain 4)commit to rinsing and draining them twice each day Easy! For fried rice, I made the tradition choice – mung bean sprouts. If you want the blanched out color that you usually find at Chinese restaurants, grow your sprouts inside your cabinet, keeping them away from a light source.

Fried Rice (for one)

1 tbls. peanut oil
1 egg, scrambled

1 tbls. peanut oil
1 tsp. powdered ginger
veggies of your choice (bok choi, peas, carrots, diced onion are all good)

1 cup cooked cold rice (Do NOT use fresh rice. It simply will not work well.)1 tbls. light soy sauce
1 tray (about 1/4 cup) mung bean sprouts
green onion, snipped small
garlic scape, snipped small

  1. Heat a wok or heavy pan over medium high for about 3 minutes.
  2. Add oil and swirl. Add egg. With a wooden spoon or wooden spatula, stir egg around. Chop it into little pieces as it cooks. When it is done to your liking, set aside on a plate.
  3. Add 1 tbls. of oil to wok. Add ginger. Swirl. Add your vegetables. (The key to fried rice technique is to keep the food moving, so from this point on, keep the stirring constant.) Stagger the cooking of your vegetables. Add the heartier ones (like onions, bok choi) first and then in a minute or two, add the more delicate vegetables.
  4. Add your rice. Continue to cook the rice and vegetables for 4 minutes.
  5. Sprinkle in the soy sauce. Add the sprouts, green onion, and garlic scape. Add back in the egg. Cook for a scant minute more. Done!