Editors Note: One of the items found on the Haft Sin table for the Persian New Year is sprouted grains. There are many different types of sprouts you can make. What follows is a fun craft project with kids since these seeds germinate quickly so kids can watch the growth almost daily.
Cotton dish towel
Sprayer or mister
Grains such as wheat, mung beans, or lentils (Depending on which you use, the resulting sprouts look different. I prefer sprouts from lentils, but you can experiment and see which ones you like best.)
Part 1: Prepare the Sprouts
1. Put 1 cup of dried lentils in a bowl, cover with cold water, and soak for 2 days or more, changing the water once a day. Tiny white tendrils will appear, showing that the lentils are germinating.
2. Drain the lentils and transfer to a cotton dish towel. Tie it up loosely and place it back in the bowl. Spray it with water twice a day for 2 to 3 days or more until little green/white sprouts appear on the lentils.
3. Once the little green/white sprouts have appeared, remove the sprouted lentils from the dish towel and spread them evenly in an 8-inch-diameter flat dish (you can also place about 1 tablespoon’s worth in the eggshells shown on the pages that follow).
4. Cover the dish with the dish towel, spray the towel with water to moisten twice a day for 2 to 3 days until the sprouts are about a half inch tall.
5. Uncover the sprouts, place in a sunny room, and continue to keep moist by spraying once a day.
Part 2: Prepare the Eggshells
1. With adult help, use a sharp knife to slice off the narrow ends of 12 eggs. Empty the contents into an airtight jar and refrigerate for another use.
2. Rinse the eggshells with cold water and put them back in their carton.
3. Put 1 tablespoon of germinated lentil grains into each eggshell. Place the egg carton in a sunny spot and cover with the dish towel.
4. Spray the dish towel with water twice a day for 2 to 3 days. Don’t soak the sprouts: they’ll rot. But don’t allow them to dry out.
5. Once the lentils have sprouted green/white, remove the cloth. Spray with water twice a day, and in several days you’ll have wonderful eggshell sprouts.
Editor’s Notes and Modifications:
An alternative to sprouting your own seeds is to use packaged seeds and dirt. This is a great way to sprout a plant before transferring it to the garden. It’s best to pick plants that germinate quickly–some examples are green beans, cucumber and Mexican marigolds.
In order to plant the seeds, poke a small hole in the bottom of the shell for drainage.
Half fill the eggshell-half with soil. Put in 2-3 seeds. Cover with a 1/4 inch layer of soil.
When all seeds have been planted, water lightly and place in a sunny window sill.
Make sure your child waters each shell daily with a teaspoon of water (or more if soil is drying out quickly).
Once seedlings emerge they may be planted outdoors if it is warm enough. Make sure to crush the bottom of the eggshell before putting the seedling in the ground. The shell will decompose in the soil.
And finally, if you would like to decorate your eggshells with dye, you can do that first, before planting the sprouts.
Reprinted with permission from Happy Nowruz: Cooking with Children to Celebrate the Persian New Year, by Najmieh Batmanglij, courtesy of Mage Publishers, www.mage.com.