Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Eat your sprouts & Freeze them too!

Though I was raised as a non-vegetarian, we heavily relied on the beans and legumes for our daily protein quota. Because non-vegetarian food was reserved only for Sundays. The sprouts were regulars in my mom's kitchen. My brothers and I had strong aversion to some of the vegetables then, but the sprouts were liked by all.
After coming to United States, life became more hectic. The reasons (or excuses?) were many like demands of job, challenges of new motherhood, and no domestic help. Soaking the beans and waiting them to sprout up sounded too much of a work. Then I watched one of Sara Moulton's shows (cooking live! or Sara's secrets) on the food network. She explained how frozen vegetables are "fresher" than the usual fresh vegetables available in the market. That was a moment of enlightenment for me. She said that the vegetables are picked when they are at their peek of freshness and then are frozen immediately without adding any preservatives, and thus their freshness is preserved, where as the vegetables available in the supermarket, travel a lot and sometimes are less fresh than the frozen ones! That got me to thinking. What if I freeze the sprouts? I did it and it worked for me.

Then on, I always make 4-5 sprouts simultaneously. Once they are sprouted, I put them in the freezer-friendly ziploc bags and freeze them. So even if I have a busy day, all I have to do is to thaw the sprouts bag previous day in the refrigerator and then use them. Sometimes I forget to thaw in the fridge, but I can just hold the bag under lukewarm water and then I am ready to cook the sprouts.

It saves me time and I get to include the sprouts, which are full of proteins, dietary fibers, and folic acid, more regularly in our diet.

Here is what I do -

How to make & freeze sprouts
You need -
A big bowl for soaking
colander with small perforations
Saran wrap
Ziploc Freezer bags (or any other brand, but make sure they are freezer bags!)
Permanent Marker

1. Pick the beans for any impurities.

2. Wash them and soak in water till they are completely submerged. Soak them overnight or at least for 8 hours

3. Once the beans look swollen, drain all the water. Transfer them to a colander with small perforations.
4. Keep a small utensil under the colander to catch any water. Cover the colander tightly with saran wrap. Make sure the beans are not touching the wrap. In a few hours, you will see some droplets collected under the wrap. i.e. We are all set. The greenhouse dome is created and the beans will sprout soon.
5. keep the new apparatus in a warm place like microwave or oven.

6. It may take anywhere between 8 - 12 hour to get the sprouts depending on the weather.
7. Once the sprouts are ready, transfer them to individual "freezer friendly" ziploc bags. Write date by permanent marker so you know when you froze them and use them in the "FIFO" manner. (First In First Out)
8. Freeze them in the freezer.
9. Use them whenever you need them by thawing the bag in the refrigerator previous day. or run quickly under warm water.

Note -
1. As you all may very well know, the beans sprout better during summer time than winter. Try to use lukewarm water for soaking in the winter.

2. Use "freezer friendly" ziploc bags that means the bags that are specifically designed to use in the freezer. Regular ziploc bag may tear, gather too much ice, give freezer burns and cause a big mess.

3. While using the ziploc bag, make sure that the air is completely. Do not use plastic bags or plastic container to store the sprouts in the freezer.

4. There are some beans which take too much time to sprout. If you are not getting sprouts and the beans are turning slimy, then you have kept them out too long. I always have hard time sprouting black eyed peas irrespective of the weather. Moog that I got at Indian stores took a long time, but I had a awesome moong sprouts from moong from Whole Foods. It could very well be one wrong batch of moong from Indian stores.
5. I regularly sprout these beans with consistently good results - Masoor, Matki (Math beans), Moong, white peas, green peas, black peas, black chana, lima beans, small chowli, vaal, kulith

6. Try to use the freezer-friendly Ziploc bag which holds just enough sprouts for one use. The bags are available in quart or gallon size. I generally use quart size because I use the entire bag for one cooking, gallon size would be too much for us. Freezing, thawing and re-freezing is not really recommended.

7. These frozen sprouts need to be used for the curries/usals/pullaos etc for which you are going to cook the sprouts. If you are looking for eating them raw, then you probably need to have fresh sprouts.

Moog Sprouts

White Peas Sprouts

Red Chowli Sprouts

Green Chana sprouts

Lima Beans Sprouts

Matki/Moth Sprouts

Masoor Sprouts

Kulith/Horse Gram sprouts

Green Peas Sprouts

1. Sara Moulton is an executive chef of Gourmet magazine. More information, click here.


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