Sprouting revival takes root

Sprouting at home. Photo: Liz Hafalia/The Chronicle

Sprouting at home. Photo: Liz Hafalia/The Chronicle

It’s a science experiment I remember dearly from childhood. Poke an avocado pit with toothpicks, suspend it in a jar of water and wait for it to sprout. I don’t think I ever actually followed through and planted the seed in the backyard; it was more about witnessing life at its earliest stages.

These days, I get the same childlike thrill when I make sprouts at home. I soak dried legumes or grains overnight, drain them, then leave them out at room temperature. After a few hours, the pointy tip of a sprout emerges. Soon, tender white tendrils seem to grow by the millimeter when I turn my back.

Sprouts have yet to shake certain musty associations, but they have retro appeal to cooks whose formative years overlapped with the 1970s. Crunchy, fresh and alive-tasting, they go hand-in-hand with the mainstreaming of plant-based cuisine and our overall exploration of vegetables.

With four-star chefs like David Kinch of Manresa sprouting fenugreek and fennel seeds for tasting menus, and Whole Foods selling sprouted lentils and flour in the bulk bin, have we entered a second health food era?
ray for sprouting alfalfa sprouts,” says Sarah Rich, chef/co-owner of Rich Table (read more)

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