Thursday, 26 May 2011

Sprout it Out

When I was a child lentils were a staple. They thickened soups and stews, and often took the lead in a meal. My Anglo-Burman mother knew a lentil trick or two. But it wasn't until I was in my thirties that I realised lentils didn't have to be orange and split. My favourites now are the tiny slate coloured ones from Le Puy, in France, and I'm always delighted to find something new to do with them.

I'd eaten sprouted seeds on many occasions but had never tried to make them. Instructions regarding blotting paper covered trays and constant spraying to keep them from getting either too wet, or too dry, put me off. So I was thrilled when an hour's idle Pinterest browsing (no doubt when I should have been writing a lesson plan) led me to a simple jar method. Not only was it über easy, it looked pretty, and involved lentils which I had never thought of as seeds before. This is what I did:

I took a handful of Puy lentils and soaked them over night,

drained and transferred them to a jar. Within hours tiny white shoots appeared.

By the next day the shoots looked like this.

And on day three some tiny greens had appeared.

Day five: ready to eat and

bursting out the top of the jar.

They were delicious and are, apparently, scandalously healthy. If you want to do it you need to know that you must rinse them with cold water twice a day, and shake out as much of the water as you possibly can. I covered the jar in a piece of muslin which I then punched holes in with a sharp knife. This allowed me to do the rinsing and shaking without losing the lot down the sink, or faffing about with a colander. You can find the original and much more detailed recipe at Honest Fare, which is a rather nice site.


Jane and Lance Hattatt said...

This is so exciting and, what is more, looks to be both fun and easy. We are most certainly going to give it a try just as soon as we can get organised. It reminds us of Mustard and Cress on blotting paper from childhood days!

Your tip of the muslin top to the jar to facilitate washing is a very good one, and we shall follow to the letter. Just as a point of interest, why do they need constant rinsing? Is it to keep them damp but not wet?

Carole said...

This is very cool. I have never enjoyed sprouts but this sounds like I must give it a try.

I could not comment on your last post. I kept running across an error message.

savannah said...

i LOVE le puy lentils! i'll have to try the sprouts jar. delish! xoxox

The Weaver of Grass said...

Funnily enough Eryl, I found some puy lentils at the back of the cupboard this morning when I cleaned the shelf. I am now about to try the sprouting.

The word verification is reaped - must be a good omen that my sprouting will be successful.

deb did it said...

oh how fantastic...thanks for sharing this...

Meri said...

I love the muslin idea -- it's a perfectly crafted solution. Bravo for thinking it up!

The Pollinatrix said...

Ooh, yes. I want to do this.

I love your phrase "scandalously healthy." You are so great with innovative description.

Dawn Elliott said...

This sounds easy and makes me want to give it a try...for the scandalously healthy reasons!

angryparsnip said...

ack lost my comment....
This so reminds me of my Mum....
She used to sprout lentils and mung beans...

I just used up my last Puy Lentils, so I am off to the store to buy some and try this...

I checked out the site and the salad looks so wonderful !
How are you using your sprouts ?

We both had food post this week how fun !

cheers, parsnip

Linnhe Mara said...

'Scandalously healthy'? That must be pretty close to an oxymoron!

Eryl said...

Jane and Lance ~ I think you have to keep rinsing them to stop them festering. Apparently slime can be a problem.

The muslin was just my interpretation of the instruction on Honest Fare, she used cheesecloth to cover her jar but I don't have any so used muslin and found it needed bigger holes.

I didn't think you did kitchen things.

Carole ~ they're great as an addition to salads and, I found, cheese sandwiches.

I keep getting error messages too, and losing my comments all over the place, even here.

Savannah ~ me too! Have you tried the Italian new year recipe for lentils with spicy sausages, fab! XXXXX

Weaver ~ it does sound like fate has conspired to make you eat sprouts.You'll have lost that holiday 3lbs in no time at all.

Deb ~ you're welcome.

Meri ~ it is a perfectly crafted solution, but sadly not mine. I have made it sound like mine, though, now I reread the post, oops!

Polli ~ it seems like the perfect way for a desert dweller to grow fresh greens.

I make all my writing students remove all adverbs from their work, and here I am a brazen adverb user!

Dawn ~ a liberal dose of scandalously healthy foods, for me, means I can eat cake without guilt. So it's always good to have a few recipes in the bag. Or jar.

Parsnip ~ how I mostly used them (they are all gone now and I'll have to make some more) was to stuff a handful into my mouth before eating something much less healthy. But they were good in salads and sandwiches too.

Linnhe ~ I think you might be right.

The Unbearable Banishment said...

Q: What's better than a bowl of perfectly-made lentil soup?

A: Nothing.

Pat said...

We love lentils in this house.
'Stop the festering'. I think I'll pass on that one.
I always associate le puy lentils with that heart warming dish cassoulet.
My old town used to be twinned with Le Puy and we used to take plays out there. Very appreciative audiences.
I know it's usually haricot beans but I'm sure my friend Doreen used Le Puy lentils too.

Noelle Renee said...

Wow Eryl, very nice. I love sprouts but never got a recipe on how to make them like this. Lovely. I shall try it. I love your blog!

rebecca said...


A Time for Stitching said...

Hi Eryl, Just popped in for reciprocal visit after your comment on my blog. And what a co-ncidence!! I have a jar that looks very similar on my kitchen window sill. It contains mung peas rather than lentils though and isn't growing half as fast as yours.
I always put too many peas in, because it never looks much, and end up with them bursting out of the top - looks like you have too :-)

Teresa x

Eryl said...

UB ~ do you add bacon?

Pat ~ rinse and shake twice a day and you will have no festering to contend with, promise.

Next time I make cassoulet I'll try adding lentils.

Noelle ~ thank you. Let me know how you get on if you try it, maybe do a post yourself and I'll come and read.

Rebecca ~ :)

Teresa ~ I have to confess I left them until they burst out the top of the jar so I could get the photo. I was really hoping that they'd come through the holes I'd poked in the muslin, but no, I had to take it off. I might try mung peas next, think I may have some lurking in a cupboard.

Miss Scarlet said...

Pinterest has a lot to answer for!
And yes, it's overflowing with ideas.

Alesa Warcan said...

That's neat! I'm going to give it I try... We've been getting radish sprouts, and I wouldn't surprised in the least if they were using a very similar technique.

Eryl said...

Scarlet ~ I keep wanting to felt my jumpers and make them into floor tiles, it's terrible. X

Alesa ~ radish sprouts? I want some.

Alesa Warcan said...

I figure you could make them easily enough. In fact it would probably be less work than lentils. : j

Eryl said...

I will search out some radish seeds poste haste.

red-handed said...

Nice. But I can hardly get my wife (and poor, anemic baby) to eat carrots or squash, let alone something like this.

Stephanie said...

What a fun site you have...you've inspired me to go sprout-ing.

Olivia said...

Eryl, I too sprout...I'm just getting back into sprouting after several years away. Your lentils look delightful, full of the life force and energy of living food! Good for you for keeping it simple and good! xoO

vextasy said...

I find they also taste pretty good added to a mild curry sauce, they have such a lovely texture. You can get sprouting jars like this one I picked up last time I was in St. Ives which means you don't have to fuss around with muslin:


No doubt there are lots of alternatives elsewhere. It's also surprising just how much you get from just a tablespoon of seeds. Looking at how slowly the salad leaves are growing in the garden this year this is a satisfying alternative.

nick said...

Oh, I couldn't be bothered with all that. Anyway, I'd forget to do all the rinsing and shaking. I think I'll let Sainsbury's take care of that.

Eryl said...

Red ~ you can eat them, though. My boys tasted them, said 'nice' but declined more.

Stephanie ~ thank you. Hope you enjoy your sprouts.

Olivia ~ good luck with your rekindled sprouting.

Vextasy ~ hello, haven't seen you for a while. I looked at the sprouting jars, good idea. I think I'll try punching holes in the tops of jam jars because, yes, the muslin is a bit of a faff.

Doing it by the tablespoon is a good idea, especially as I'm the only one in the house who eats them.

Nick ~ you lazy bugger!

Mary Witzl said...

I've always wanted to try sprouting beans or lentils. I've done alfalfa sprouts and I grow rocket in a tray on the window, but never lentils. One of these days I'm going to do this!