Growing Radish Sprouts

Growing radish sprouts brings fresh flavor to salads, sandwiches, and more. Proper sanitation and handling are crucial for safety.
By: Nan Chase

Botanical Name: Raphanus sativus

Various legume and vegetable seeds can be sprouted in the kitchen and used as a nutritious fresh food. The quick nature of radish seed germination makes them a good choice, and the same spicy flavor of crisp radishes is a feature of radish sprouts.

Radish seedlings may be tinged with pink – just like mature radish plants grown in the garden.Together with the light green of the developing leaves they’re an attractive addition to many meals. A typical combination would be daikon radish and China rose radish seeds.

As with any kind of sprouting seeds, it’s crucial to take time to properly disinfect the seeds before beginning the process. Why? Any seeds can carry potentially dangerous soil-borne microbes that reproduce in warm, moist conditions like those involved in a kitchen sprouting operation.

If you already grow radishes and harvest the seeds from the mature plants, the disinfectant step is particularly important because commercial seed growers send seed samples for laboratory testing before seeds are sold.

Equipment and seeds alike should be disinfected. Fortunately that process isn’t difficult. Many seed companies sell kits with plastic trays and mesh covers specially designed to foster seed germination for sprouts. If you like, though, just use a mason jar with a piece of cheese cloth orfine screen instead of a solid top.

Before radish germination, wash all equipment with hot soapy water and rinse thoroughly; or run everything through a dishwasher. It’s not a bad idea to pour scalding water over the equipment just before beginning the sprouting process.

There are two ways to disinfect the seeds themselves. One way, a newer technique, is a stovetop method. Using hydrogen peroxide (from a drug store or grocery) in a saucepan, heat the liquid gently to 140° F – not higher! – and “cook” the seeds for five minutes. Higher temperatures can stop the germination of radish seeds altogether. After five minutes rinse the seeds in running water for a full minute. Discard the used hydrogen peroxide.

Another way to sterilize seeds is to soak them for an hour or so in a pint or so of water that has a drop or two of household bleach added. Then rinse thoroughly.

Now, how to grow radish sprouts. The idea with sprouting is to soak the seeds overnight to begin the process by softening the seeds’ outer coating. Drain.

Then, the damp seeds are left in a sprouting tray or mason jar with air circulating freely. The combination of room temperature warmth plus constant moisture will produce edible radish sprouts within a few days.

To attain the constant moisture level necessary for germination, you will have to pour fresh water through the tray or jar several times a day, letting the excess out. Turn or rotate the jar.

It takes from two to five days for a radish sprout to reach the optimal size for eating: small leaves plus a curling, light green rootlet, anywhere from ½ inch to a full inch. Once they reach the right size, refrigerate sprouts immediately to keep them from spoiling.

Radish sprouts will stay good in the refrigerator for about a week. If they exhibit any signs of spoilage (mushiness, browning, a bad odor), discard them and wash the equipment thoroughly before starting a new round.

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