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How to Grow Your Own Sprouts

Regular Food in Jars contributor Alex Jones dropped in today to share her experiences sprouting seeds! This is such a fun project. -Marisa

With the late onset of spring here in Philly, I’ve been craving fresh flavors and textures. Trying my hand at fresh, homegrown sprouts seemed like the perfect food project for April.

In order to get sprouts, you need to start with seeds. You can pick up bags of seeds and beans grown specifically for sprouting, like alfalfa, quinoa, adzuki, and others, by the ounce or by the pound. I ended up going for The Sprout House’s sampler pack, which includes about two ounces of 12 different kinds of sprouts, all certified organic, and followed their guidelines for home sprouting. I’ll spend the next few months cycling through all the different kinds to see which are my favorites.

Large, wide-mouth quart jars are best to use for this project. And since the jars of sprouting seeds need to be covered but allow air flow, I also picked up a fresh batch of cheesecloth. The one I got was a little more tightly woven than what I usually use — after trying it for sprouting, I’d probably stick to using a few layers of a cheesecloth with a more open weave in the future, just to make sure there are openings enough for drainage and airflow.

If you don’t want to use cheesecloth — the only drawbacks I noticed were that it’s not reusable and it will temporarily smell a little funky if you accidentally let it sit in water — there are a ton of special wide-mouth jar lids, like this one Marisa wrote about last year, to try out, too. And if you’re using cheesecloth, grab some snug rubber bands or sturdy kitchen twine.

The last piece of equipment I’d recommend is some kind of shallow, walled container, one for each jar, in which you’ll tilt your jars so the seeds won’t sit in standing water.

I selected three kinds of seeds from my sampler pack to start with: quick-growing broccoli and alfalfa and slower-growing sunflower (truth be told, my dream microgreen).

When you’re ready to sprout, pour a tablespoon or two of seed into your quart jars  — what you see here started with 1 tablespoon of each kind of seed.

Before you soak, start by sanitizing your seeds in a 1:10 solution of bleach or hydrogen peroxide and water for five minutes. (This step is recommended by the FDA for home sprouters and required of commercial sprouters.) Then, drain the seeds and rinse them in fresh water three times.

Once your seeds are sanitized, add water to submerge your seeds, then let them soak overnight. In the morning, drain your seeds, rinse them, and drain again so that no water will be left standing in the jar. Top with cheesecloth secured with a rubber band, or use a sprouting lid.

Here’s where those shallow containers come in. Place your covered jars of rinsed sprouts into the containers so that they’re leaning open-end-down, which will allow any excess liquid to drain out.

Rinse your seeds once in the morning and in the evening, being sure to drain them well and replace them leaning down in the container. Check the container before each rinse to make sure there’s no standing water accumulating in there, either.

By day three of rinsing twice a day, I definitely had sprouting, as you can see in the photo of the alfalfa seeds with their tiny, just-emerging shoots.

By day five, both the broccoli and the alfalfa sprouts were ready to eat. I transferred them to a fresh container with half a paper towel in the bottom and put them in the fridge. They were delicious on my bagel with some herbed fromage blanc this morning — crunchy, fresh, green, and nutritious.

Unfortunately, despite the same treatment, the sunflower seeds didn’t do so well. The Sprout House’s were hulled for easier sprouting, but I wonder if some of the seeds had been damaged or were otherwise not viable. Only a few sprouted, and the sprouts were small, not like the tall, juicy sprouts I buy at the farmers’ market. I’ll do some research and give sunflower sprouts a try again.

But for now, I’m happy to snack on my broccoli and alfalfa sprouts, which I’ll be putting on salads, sandwiches, toast, and tacos all this week — maybe even in a green smoothie.

Have you tried sprouting seeds before? What are your favorite ways to eat sprouts?

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Preserves in Action: Kimchi Noodle Soup

Need something spicy, flavorful, and warming? Alex Jones is here with a recipe for a tasty batch of soup that will help you make good use of that jar of kimchi you’ve got tucked in the back of the fridge! Yum! -Marisa

Throughout my preserving life, I’ve realized that I use some things all the time — pressure-canned tomatoes, stock and beans, dried herbs and Meyer lemon slices, frozen peak-season fruit. And others, like high-sugar jams, I don’t use much of at all.

As I go along each season, I try to learn from what I end up giving away or not enjoying so that I can maximize my food dollars, avoid waste, and devote space in my fridge and pantry to items I’ll actually eat.

When I found myself with two huge napa cabbages in my fridge two falls ago, I made a massive batch of kimchi (using the excellent recipe from Maangchi’s Real Korean Cooking). After giving several jars away at the Philly Food Swap, I still had a gallon left. And while I’ve added it to rice bowls and eaten it on the side with scrambled eggs, two big jars still sit in the back corner of my fridge.

One of my intentions for the new year is tokeep my fridge slightly less jam-packed than it usually is — which includes using up good preserves that I sometimes ignore. Luckily, there’s an excellent Korean dish — kimchi-guk — that turns this pungent condiment into a delicious, warming soup.

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Tomato Soup Concentrate for Canning

Having a stash of homemade tomato soup concentrate in your pantry is like doing a favor for your future self. Portioning it out in 26 ounce jars from Fillmore Container makes it look extra snazzy!

labeled jars of tomato soup concentrate

My tomato preservation approach is one that is forever evolving. I make a point of trying at least one new-to-me tomato recipe to each season, always hoping that I’ll discover something particularly delicious and worthy of my time, resources, and shelf space.

tomatoes in a bowl for tomato soup concentrate

This year, there were two experimental recipes. The first was this barbecue sauce (which is quite delicious, but probably won’t be something I make every single year). The second is the tomato soup concentrate that I’m sharing today. I’m already hoping that when I get home from the trip I’m currently on (I’ve been away for a week, which accounts for the blog silence), I’ll be able to get enough tomatoes to make another batch.

washing tomatoes soup concentrate

Recipes for tomato soup concentrates that are safe for the boiling water bath canner aren’t always easy to find. I did a lot of reading and worked out more math problems than is typically required for a basic canning recipe in order to bring this to you today. I built my recipe upon the framework laid out in the National Center for Home Food Preservation’s water bath safe Tomato and Vegetable Juice recipe.

chopped tomatoes for tomato soup concentrate

The thing in that recipe that made everyone here possible is the fact that it specifies that, “Not more than 3 cups of other vegetables may be added for each 22 pounds of tomatoes.” Taking my cue from there, I used 15 pounds of tomatoes, and a scant two cups of diced onions. I felt comfortable doing that, because I was keeping to their approach while reducing the batch size by one-third.

milling cooked tomatoes for tomato soup concentrate

From there, it was a matter of chopping the tomatoes and cooking them down with the onion. Once they were soft, I pushed them through a food mill fitted with its finest screen. At that point, I had approximately 24 cups of flavorful tomato juice.

I added Italian seasoning and granulated garlic, and cooked it down until I had a thick, tasty 16 cups. Once I was finished cooking, I added salt to taste (it’s always best to wait until you’ve finished cooking something down before salting it. Otherwise, you can end up with something inedible).

cooked tomato soup concentrate

Then I portioned 1/2 teaspoon of citric acid into five square sided 26 ounce jars from Fillmore Container and filled them up with my soup concentrate. I added five minutes to the processing time required by the NCHFP for the tomato and vegetable juice, to compensate for the increased thickness.

I love canning tomato products in these square sided jars because they give it a more professional look, and I find that the squared off sides make them easier to grab when I’m moving quickly. The 26 ounce size is also great from a portioning perspective. Reheated with a bit of milk, there’s just the right amount for two people to enjoy bigs bowls with a side of cheesy toast or garlic bread.

Oh, and if you find yourself liking the looks of the square shape, know that they’re also available in 8 ounce and 16 ounce sizes.

five jars of tomato soup concentrate

Disclosure: Fillmore Container is a Food in Jars sponsor. Their sponsorship helps keep the site afloat. They provided the jars you see here at no cost to me. All opinions expressed are entirely mine. 

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Farro, Kale, and Feta Salad + OXO SNAP Glass Round Containers

This farro, kale, and feta salad is easy to make, tastes great, and stores beautifully in OXO’s 8 Piece SNAP Glass Round Container Set.

stacked OXO containers

I have always had a thing for food storage containers. When I was in elementary school, I would beg to be allowed to pack peanuts or raisins for my lunch in one of my mom’s two tiny Tupperware containers (when I was still an infant, she had been invited to a Tupperware party by a neighbor, and though she wasn’t particularly interested in plastic food storage containers, had picked out the smallest item in the catalog so as not to be rude).

watermelon in OXO container

In middle school, I cajoled my parents into buying me a set of matching plastic containers, so that I could tote my lunchtime yogurt and granola in style. And I still remember how delighted I felt my senior year of college, when my roommates and I went in on the large assortment of food storage tubs and bowls at the local Kmart. Looking back on this, it’s really no wonder I’ve made a career out of putting food in containers.

vertical OXO snap containers

About a year ago, I became a little bit obsessed with this new wave of glass food storage containers with snap-on lids. Every time Scott and I went to Costco, I’d pause in front of the display of Pyrex Snapware for so long that he’d sigh and make a move to put a box in our cart. I’d snap out of my trance and tell him to put it back. Between the set of containers we’d gotten for our wedding and my VAST collection of jars, we simply did not need it.

pork and pineapple in OXO

So, when I got an email from the folks at OXO, asking if I might like to participate in a blogger promotion centered on their new 8 Piece SNAP Glass Round Container Set, my resolve crumbled and I said yes. I was finally going to get a chance to work with food storage containers with snap-on lids.

faro salad with bowl of greens

I’ve now had this set of containers in my kitchen for a couple weeks and they’ve become my preferred vessels (so much so that I’ve taken to hand-washing them between uses rather than wait to run them through the dishwasher).

The containers themselves are made of sturdy, shock-resistant borosilicate glass, so they can go straight from the fridge or freezer and into the oven or microwave. The lids have a thick, leakproof gasket (it comes out for cleaning) that, once locked into place, prevents even a drop of moisture from leaking out of the container.

This means that when you pack soup or a dressed salad into one and tuck it sideways into your work bag or backpack, you can be secure in the knowledge that it won’t leak all over your computer. This feature is also fabulous if you find yourself occasionally needing to set container on its edge in order to get it to fit into your fridge (this happens in my kitchen more than I’d like to admit).

plated farro salad

These containers are the perfect thing for the picnics and potlucks so many of us plan during these warmer months. Lately, my go-to dish for such events is a room temperature salad made of farro, lightly cooked kale, feta cheese, and golden raisins. I use a technique that I learned from my Deena many years ago, in which you cook the farro and the kale in the same pot, adding the kale no more than two minutes before the grain is finished.

You end up with both components cooked perfectly and only one pot to clean. I mix the rest of the salad in the cooking pot as well (wait to add the cheese until it’s cooled a bit), and then transfer it to the OXO container when it’s time to store or transport. I like to serve it over a bed of baby arugula, though considering the amount of kale you tuck into it, is entirely optional.

Disclosure: OXO sent me their 8 Piece SNAP Glass Round Container Set, 2-in-1 Salad Servers, and Little Salad Dressing Shaker to try and write about. No additional compensation was provided. All opinions expressed are entirely my own. 

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Sponsored Post: Revol Dutch Oven and Braised Chicken and Potatoes

Revol pot top - Food in Jars

I have long considered myself something of an enthusiastic amateur cookware expert. I can discuss the pros and cons of enameled cast iron, tri-ply stainless steel, non-stick, and anodized aluminum with the best of them. However, until recently, there was one cookware category about which I had no first-hand knowledge. Ceramic cookware.

Revol pot open - Food in Jars

I’d had my eye on an array of ceramic Dutch ovens for years now, but never managed to pull the trigger and add one to my collection of pots and pans. So when the folks from Revol got in touch and asked if I might want to try out something from their collection, I said yes.

Revol pot side - Food in Jars

I spent hours studying the Revol website before settling on 3.75 quart round ceramic Dutch oven in white. When it arrived, I pulled it out of the packaging and was pleasantly surprised to discover that it was both incredibly sturdy and yet far lighter than similarly sized enameled cast iron pieces.

sliced onions for Revol - Food in Jars

I found myself choosing the Revol Dutch oven over other pots and braisers in my collection, particularly during the time when my mother-in-law was so sick, because it was perfect for the simple, stovetop to oven dishes that I made for ease and comfort during that time.

potatoes for Revol - Food in Jars

I discovered that the Revol Dutch oven worked beautifully on my electric range and cleaned up with less scrubbing than the other cookware I often used. I also appreciated the fact that the lid had braising spikes to help the moisture circulate within the pot during cooking. They just make for more delicious food.

browning chicken Revol - Food in Jars

One of the dishes I made several times before leaving on my recent book tour was a one-pot braise of chicken, cabbage, onions, and potatoes. You brown the chicken in a little olive oil and then pull it out of the pot. Then you sauté the onions and cabbage in the remaining fat, deglaze with a little white wine or chicken stock, tuck the chicken back in, and arrange some quartered potatoes on top.

chicken dish for Revol - Food in Jars

The lid goes back on the pot and you slide it into a moderate oven to cook. It stays there for about an hour, until the chicken is falling apart and the potatoes are tender.

braised chicken Revol - Food in Jars

I always make enough for two meals and we eat it with steamed broccoli or sautéed kale (though since there’s cabbage in the pot, you could also skip the side and call it a complete meal).

plated Revol chicken - Food in Jars

For more information about Revol cookware, visit their site. The recipe for the braised chicken and potatoes is after the jump!

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All-Clad NS1 Nonstick Induction Chef’s Pan + Kabocha Squash, Coconut, and Wild Rice Stew

finished all-clad dish - Food in Jars

About a month ago, I got an email asking if I might want to participate in a blogger promotion that All-Clad was running in order to spread the word about their new line of NS1 Nonstick Induction cookware. They would send me the NS1 Chef’s Pan so that I could play with it, develop a dish in it, and then share both my thoughts and the recipe with my readers. Of course I said yes. Who says no to All-Clad?

All-Clad pot - Food in Jars

This line of All-Clad is made from anodized aluminum, has a sturdy three-layer PFOA-free nonstick interior, and is induction-compatible thanks to steel base that also helps prevent warping. The chef’s pan has high sides and broad cooking surface that makes it great for simmering, sautéing, and steaming. Currently, the NS1 Nonstick Induction line is available exclusively at Williams-Sonoma and the pan they sent me sells for $99.95.

All-Clad handle - Food in Jars

In the month that I’ve had it, the NS1 chef’s pan has become my favorite for wilting and braising greens (something I do A LOT in the winter), because it has a bit more vertical real estate than a frying pan, and the tight-fitting lid keeps the moisture in the pan. I also like it for one of my favorite weird breakfasts – sauteed cabbage with a couple of eggs scrambled in once the cabbage wilts and browns (a simple version of the dish Joy explains here).

interior of All-Clad pot - Food in Jars

The nonstick surface has proved itself to be among the most sturdy and easy to clean that I’ve tried in my cooking career, It still looks pristine after a month of regular use. I haven’t taken particular care to baby it, either. I wash it and set it in my dish drainer, same as all my other cookware (this pan is dishwasher safe, but it just doesn’t seem necessary, given how easily it cleans up with a quick swipe of the sponge).

greens and squash cubes - Food in Jars

Now, let’s chat about the dish I created. It’s a stew of kabocha squash (though any sweet, dense winter squash would do), braised greens (a combination of kale and baby spinach), wild rice, red lentils, and coconut milk. It’s loosely based on a recipe in Liana Krisoff’s brillian book Whole Grains for a New Generation, and is delicious, filling, and entirely vegan.

All-Clad dish close - Food in Jars

I love making easy stews like this one in this chef’s pan, because the flared shape helps the moisture evaporate out, concentrating the flavors in the pan. It also has plenty of room for the eight cups of chopped greens that finishes the dish.

Thanks to the kind folks at All-Clad, I have one of these All-Clad NS1 Nonstick Induction Chef’s Pan to give away. Here’s how to enter.

  1. Leave a comment on this post and tell me what you’d cook in this pan.
  2. Comments will close at 11:59 pm eastern time on Saturday, November 14, 2015. Winners will be chosen at random and will be posted to the blog on Sunday, November 15, 2015.
  3. Giveaway open to United States residents only. Void where prohibited.
  4. One comment per person, please. Entries must be left via the comment form on the blog at the bottom of this post.

Disclosure: All-Clad sent me the pan you see pictured above and they’re provided the giveaway unit, both at no cost to me. No additional compensation was provided.

For more about these fabulous pans, follow All-Clad and Williams-Sonoma on social media!
All-Clad: Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | Instagram
Williams-Sonoma: Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | Instagram

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