I wrote this one up when I was going to plant my garden and realized all I have are a few pots to play in. So naturally, micro-gardening came up. People have been growing their own sprouts forever. If I were going to play with it, I would be hard pressed deciding whether to use a mason jar or a chia pet. I would choose my seeds based on how pretty they would look on display.
You can have your own personal organic locally grown sprouts in a jiffy.
You can buy the plastic mesh lids or circular metal mesh inserts either in stores or online, or substitute needlepoint canvas or any meshy nylon fabric like cheesecloth or pantyhose for over the jars.
Find the seed of your choice in health stores. Ask an employee to verify that the seed is suitable for sprouting. There are risks with sprouts that are considerably smaller when growing them yourself, involving bacterial contamination of the seed itself. When you buy it, ask about the source and/or treatment of the seed and make your decisions accordingly. Thoroughly cooking your sprouts (ie stir fry) should destroy any microbes you may still be worrying about.
Never use seed intended for planting, they may be treated with chemicals. My folks used to grow alfalfa and mung bean sprouts, but sunflower, wheat grass, beans, broccoli, chia and any little micro-greens would work.
After thoroughly cleaning your quart jar and lid, place 1-3 Tbsp of seed in the jar and cover with room temp water by over a couple inches to soak them. Put the lid on. Set the jar in a dark cool place overnight. The seeds will expand.
In the morning, drain the jar, then re-fill with fresh cold water, swirl to rinse the seeds, and drain again. Do all of this through the mesh lid. The lid stays on until the process is complete.
Set the jar upside down in a dish rack or tipped in a bowl. See if you can get seeds to gently stick to the sides of your jar and spread out. The idea is to keep it drained but exposing the lid to allow fresh air to circulate in the jar. This helps prevent mold. If you think mold is growing, toss the seed and start over.
Set your jar somewhere in the kitchen where it will be exposed to daylight but not directly in the sun. This helps the sprouts “green up” by developing chlorophyll. Don’t let the jar get hot.
Rinse your jar out twice a day, maybe three if you feel the need. If you’re sprouting large seed like sunflowers, you want to remove the hulls on day two or three. If the mesh is large enough, your rinsing will automatically bring the hulls out through the lid. If you’re using mesh cloth, you can remove the lid and rinse the baby sprouts in a colander to swish them out. Be gentle. Broken sprouts die and will spoil.
Between two days and a week, your sprouts should be ready to eat. Taste test them if you’re not sure. They should not taste bitter. Remove the sprouts after a last rinse and let them air dry. Cut off what you want to eat, and store the rest in an airtight bag or container for up to a week in the fridge.
Sterilize your equipment and try a new seed variety next time!