Growing grocery store plants: Tamarind PART 1

So it’s been a while since I’ve attempted to grow anything from a grocery store plant, but winter is coming so that means it’s time for some indoor entertainment. I will show you how to sprout tamarind seedlings.

I chose to grow tamarind this time because a bunch of my recipes call for it. It is a sticky paste similar to dates in texture except it’s sour rather than sweet.

According to a cookbook I read, it is often used in BBQ sauces apparantly. It comes from inside the pods of the tamarind tree and it can be found at the grocery store, usually with the paste scraped out and shaped into a square plastic package (I got mine from Food Basic).

While reading the book, Don’t Throw it, Grow it, I learned that it’s possible to grow this plant at home using seeds found in the tamarind paste, hence my decision to plant tamarind seeds. Hey, why not, right?

Instructions

All you need to do is grab a knife or spoon (or use your hands if you don’t mind getting sticky) and dig around in the paste until you hit a hard spot. The seeds are extremely hard, round and smooth, kind of like a chestnut except much smaller.

Rinse off the seeds as best you can, nick the outer surface with a knife, then soak them in a cup of water for about an hour. We want the surface of the seed to become wrinkly. When you’ve finished soaking the seed, rinse off any remaining residue.

Plant the seed in a pot, with a depth of about two times their size. I like to cover seedlings with a ventilated plastic lid. These can sometimes be found at the dollar store. Plastic sandwich bags can work too, but sometimes mould grows when I do that, so if you try it, that’s a risk to keep in mind.

It takes a couple of weeks for the seedlings to emerge. The actual seed will rise above the earth and split open to reveal the leaves, a process that’s similar to that of the peanut plant. Once the leaves appear, it’s okay to transplant them to individual pots (if you haven’t done so already) and place them in a sunny spot. The leaves droop when low on water, so try and keep the soil moist.

Isn’t it friggin cute? It’s supposed to grow about a foot per year, so hopefully I won’t be disappointed.

Now there’s a reason why I made this post Part 1. It has been one month since it sprouted and it’s not growing any bigger. I’m not sure if it needs bottom heat or what. I’ll post PART 2 once I’ve figured out how to kickstart the growth. The tamarind tree originates in Tropical Africa; I figure that it just needs some extra light and heat to mimic its natural environment. I want to get some plant heatpads and also build an indoor green house with the grow lights, since a few of my other projects like the pomegranate aren’t growing as well as I’d like them to either. I really should have thought of that before starting. If you live somewhere warmer than Canada (eh!) you may have better luck than me with getting it going.

Has anyone else grown tamarind?

Thanks for stopping by today!

Katrina.

7 comments

  • Holy cow, that’s adorable!

  • will the seeds if the actual tamarind pods grow? we eat a lot of these from the store and they are sweeter than the one that grows in the wild. please let me know

    • I haven’t seen tamarind pods where I live so I haven’t had the chance to try it. I don’t see why they wouldn’t grow, though. Go for it! 🙂

      • Hi,
        I started a tamarind seedling, from seeds in pods, I got from Whole Foods. I had absolutely NO idea how to grow this thing! So I did what I normally do with pits. I soaked a few seeds for a few days (like dates). When I became afraid I’d drowned the poor things, I placed them on a paper towel, inside a ziploc bag on top of the fridge for about a week and a half, I waited …aaaand nothing. So after doing a bunch of research, on other seeds & pits, it dawned on me to scarify the hard impenetrable shell, duh. I only scarified one of the seeds (too afraid of damaging the others, this was an experiment after all) . I put all of the seeds back in the ziploc bag with paper towel & it worked . The scarified seed was the only one to sprout. So I put my germinated baby in an egg carton (the paper kind), used a peat pellet for soil, in a seedling tray, on a warm seedling mat, & placed it under shoplights on a timer. That was about 3-1/2 wks ago. It’s now in a small yogurt container, looking healthy & green, & looks like it will sprout leaves at any minute (fingers crossed) but it’s anyone’s guess. I still have it under the shoplights (on the timer, for about 17 hrs a day), on the seedling mat & in a slightly opened ziploc bag (with date seeds & a lemon seed I’m also waiting to sprout) that I check every morning. It feels like a tropical sauna in there. I’m anxiously awaiting, leaves!!

        • that’s awesome! I keep meaning to get a seedling mat, and I want to sprout date seeds. I’ve sprouted a lemon seed before but it didn’t grow very big at all. Maybe it needed extra heat and light.

  • I have also grown tamarind. Mine are 10 months old and thriving! I keep them indoors during winter, though.

    I hope to use them as bonsai material down the road, if the trunks thicken up.

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