There is nothing that lights the soul quite like feeling the sun on your face when it’s viciously cold outside. My new word is apricity, meaning the warmth of the sun in winter. Winter sun is often weak and pale compared to summer sun. But it is appreciated so much more because it’s infrequent.
Apricity comes from the Latin apricus, “having lots of sunshine” or “warmed by the sun.” To apricate means to bask in the sun. My dog gets this. She moves with the sun throughout the day.
I think I’ll mimic her and apricate every sunny winter day. Even if it means tucking myself up against the south-facing garage wall, wrapped in a heavy coat, hat and mittens. The sun on my face is delicious. And makes me dwell on the spring memory of a fresh scallion pulled from damp earth. The best scent in the world and harbinger of a bountiful garden.
Can’t head to the garden, so let’s head to the kitchen
After my sun bask, I’m recharged to get into the kitchen. It’s the middle of winter and I’m desperate for fresh vegetables so I’ve decided to add sprouts to my menu for a boost of fresh vitamins and fiber.
You can sprout many, many different vegetables and beans. The beauty of sprouting just about anything is that the vitamin content seems to skyrocket when a seed is sprouted. Moreover, some of the vitamins and enzymes in seeds are made more readily available to our bodies when the seeds are sprouted.
Sprouts are naturally low in fat and salt and high in fiber. Bean sprouts are full of protein and an acceptable substitute for meat. Some research is being done that is showing sprouts to have antioxidant and disease prevention qualities as well. Scientists are even noting some tumor reduction in patients who eat a lot of sprouts, and many sprouts are high in phytoestrogens which help boost bone density and prevent osteoporosis.
In essence, the perfect food!
Some of the seeds that make good spouts: soybean, mung bean, onion, mustard, sunflower, radish, lentil, broccoli, alfalfa, clover, wheat and rye. But this is not an exhaustive list. There are many other types of seeds that can make good sprouts.
How to sprout
I’ve had great luck using a large mason jar with a screen or cheesecloth lid. This method grows the sprouts with nothing more than water. Depending on the type of sprout you decide to grow, the methods may vary just a bit. You can even grow sprouts in soil, but the method is completely different and you will clip these sprouts off the root to use them. When growing with just water, you eat the entire sprout.
You simply soak the seeds for 8-12 hours and then drain and rinse well. After that, you leave the seeds in the sprouting jar and rinse well two to three times a day. Critical to healthy sprouting are a clean sprouting jar, frequent rinsing with clean, cool water, and plenty of air circulation.
Ready for the fridge or pot
After rinsing, shake well to get as much free water off the sprouts as possible. I like to then tip the jar upside down in the drain rack to let it drain. The sprouts will take anywhere from one to three days, depending on the type of seed used. When your sprouts are the size you want, put them in a large bowl and fill it with water. This will let the hulls float to the surface where you can pour them off. They won’t hurt you, but are usually pretty chewy and may not be so palatable. Let the sprouts drain in a colander and then store in a jar in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.
How to use sprouts
Once you have your sprouts, toss them into salads, onto sandwiches, toss with rice or pasta. You can cook sprouted beans for a delicious fresh taste, quite unlike the usual cooked beans, and with higher nutrition. Sprouted grains are excellent additions to breads and baked goods.
An excellent source for information on all things sprouts (as well as tools and sprout seeds for purchase) is the International Sprout Growers Association: https://isga-sprouts.org/