Procrastinate Better

Grow Your Own Sprouts, Avoid Salmonella

From time to time, a Slate staffer or critic offers up a favorite cultural pick for Procrastinate Better readers. Today’s endorsement comes from Slate contributor Jeremy Singer-Vine.

Reid Stowe recently set the record for most consecutive days at sea—1,152 by the time he disembarked in June. Stowe never fell ill, he claims, thanks to his diet of fish, oatmeal, sprouts, nuts, rice, and other wholesome goodies. But especially the sprouts. “Sprouts can save the world,” he told the New York Times . The anecdote intrigued me: I’ve long yearned for something edible to grow—and herbs barely count—in my pimple-sized apartment. A quick scan through YouTube revealed enthusiasm for sprouting that wasn’t restricted to seafarers. Take, for instance, my favorite instructional/promotional video, hosted by two Kiwi hippies hopped up on lentil sprouts:

If that doesn’t convince you to start spouting asap, don’t bother reading on. But if you, like me, have been infected with sprout mania, rush out to your local corner store with $5 or $10 in your pocket and buy the following:

—one or more mason jars

—cheese cloth or cheap nylon stockings

—small bag of lentils, but not the kind that are pre-split for soup

Fill the mason jar one-eighth full of lentils. (They will grow to eight times their starting size.) Rinse the lentils several times to flush any grit and gristle. Stretch a square of nylon over the mouth of the jar, and twist the ring-shaped part of the lid over it. (Put the flat part of the lid somewhere for safekeeping.) Now you have a simple sprout jar. You can follow the directions in the video above, or use these written-out directions .

Grower, beware: Sprouts thrive in the same humid, room-temperature environment that bacteria love. (Hence the thrice-daily rinsing. Many of the harmful bacteria are odorless, so don’t skimp on the rinse just because the jar smells fine.) Just last week, a Brooklyn-based sproutery recalled containers of alfalfa after a state laboratory found salmonella in a sample.

For my first attempt, I tried sprouting quinoa , the only seemingly sproutable thing in my pantry. Bad idea. After three days of tender care, their proto-stalks had barely emerged. After the fourth, the quinoa smelled like sewage. After that, I stuck to lentils, which will amaze you with their vigor. I’ve been eating the sprouts raw, a refreshing summer snack. But with autumn approaching, but I’m looking for sprout recipes that aren’t just stir fry. If you have any, please comment below!