How to Grow Broccoli Sprouts (& Why We All Should)

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Wellness Mama » Blog » Health » How to Grow Broccoli Sprouts (& Why We All Should)

If you’ve ever heard of sulforaphane you’ve probably heard about broccoli sprouts. Sulforaphane is a powerful compound with a myriad of health benefits. And it’s why broccoli sprouts are one of the best health foods on the planet. 

In the springtime and early summer, our thoughts tend to turn to gardening, farmers’ markets, and fresh produce. But you don’t have to have a plot or pot of your own to grow these microgreens. All you really need is a mason jar on your kitchen counter. While your countertop garden might be small, the health benefits are not.

If you’re unfamiliar with sulforaphane, let me provide a case for why these humble sprouts should be growing in all our kitchens.

Broccoli Sprouts = High in Sulforaphane

Broccoli sprouts are an incredibly rich source of sulforaphane. I wrote an entire ode to sulforaphane but the short version is that this plant compound: 

  • Releases antioxidant enzymes that may protect against cancer
  • Benefits the heart and protects against cardiovascular disease
  • Protects the brain against disease
  • Increases glutathione
  • Supports natural detoxification by increasing a compound called Nrf2

Sulforaphane supports every organ system in the body in one way or another. You can easily create your own local source by growing sprouts in your kitchen. One of the first things my thyroid doctor recommended after my Hashimotos diagnosis? Eat raw broccoli sprouts daily for their sulforaphane.

Now, if you’re already ruling them out, thinking they must taste terrible, hold on a moment. Surprisingly, the sprouts don’t taste like full-grown broccoli plants. Some people say they’re spicy, like radishes, while others report they don’t notice any taste at all. However, it likely depends on how much you’re using at a time. And if you blend large amounts in a smoothie, it may release more of the flavor.

Give them a try, and if you decide they aren’t for you, there is also a great supplement option. Read on!

Why Not Just Eat Broccoli?

Cruciferous vegetables have many benefits. Researchers find that eating them raw a few times a week reduces cancer risk by 40% or more. But when it comes to sulforaphane, full-grown broccoli doesn’t come close to power-packed fresh sprouts. Three to four day old broccoli sprouts have up to 100 times the amount of sulforaphane as mature broccoli. This is because the sprouting process increases the bioavailability of nutrients, making broccoli sprouts a superfood.

On top of that, cooking destroys sulforaphane. So unless you want to chow down on several pounds of raw broccoli a day, you likely won’t get much (if any) sulforaphane. Yet, cooked broccoli, and other cruciferous vegetables, are still healthy for many other reasons. Even if they aren’t as high in sulforaphane.

Biomedical scientist Dr. Rhonda Patrick offers a tip to increase sulforaphane in cooked veggies. She recommends sprinkling them with dried mustard seed powder. Mustard seed replaces an enzyme needed for sulforaphane production but that’s destroyed in cooking.

Reasons to Grow Your Own Sprouts

Hopefully, now you’re big fans of broccoli sprouts and understand why they should be a regular part of a healthy diet. Let’s talk about why we should grow them ourselves.

Thanks to researchers like Dr. Patrick, news has spread about broccoli sprouts’ benefits. I’ve seen broccoli sprouts in many stores, including all three of our local grocery stores. But these store-bought sprouts are expensive and we can’t really know how fresh they are. Remember, sulforaphane content spikes on days 3-4 after the seed sprouts. Store-bought sprouts are likely much older than this.

Save Money by Growing Your Own 

Store-bought sprouts are also really expensive compared to growing your own. In fact, you’ll spend up to 10x as much! Sprouts from the store can run $2-5 an ounce, but you can grow them at home for $0.60 an ounce. Even less if you buy broccoli seeds in bulk like I do).

With basic equipment, you can grow 15-16 pounds of broccoli sprouts per pound of broccoli seeds. To put this in perspective, a 3-ounce container of sprouts is $6 at my local store. That ends up being about $32 a pound for sprouts. An entire pound of seeds costs less than that (and much less if you buy in bulk). In fact, I buy 5 pounds of broccoli seeds for $50 and grow up to 80 pounds of broccoli seeds for that, making them $0.62 a pound.

Plus, It is Soooo Easy

Some vegetables are worth buying because they’re too time intensive to grow. Or they take up too much room in the garden. Cabbage, celery, fennel, and some lettuces are all on this list. Organic broccoli sprouts are not. They’re almost foolproof to grow, ready to eat in days, and healthier than almost any other vegetable we can grow.

No Time/Don’t Like Sprouts?

Many sulforaphane supplements aren’t well absorbed by the body since it’s difficult to stabilize. The one exception I make is for this brand. They’ve developed a unique new process for naturally stabilizing sulforaphane. This is a great option if you don’t have the time or desire to harvest and juice broccoli sprouts every day. We take it when we’re busy or traveling. (They have a kids’ version too!) 

broccoli sprouts

How to Grow Broccoli Sprouts

Here's everything you need to grow your own nutrient dense broccoli sprouts.
Calories 8kcal
Author Katie Wells

Servings

1 jar

Equipment

Ingredients

Instructions

  • Place the broccoli sprouting seeds in a wide-mouth mason jar and cover with a few inches of filtered water.
  • Put a sprouting lid on and place the jar in a slightly warm, dark place away from direct sunlight for 8-12 hours.
  • The next day (or at least 8 hours later), drain off the water and rinse with fresh water.
  • Rest the mason jar upside down at an angle on a sprouting jar holder or inside a bowl so any remaining water can drain. Continue to keep the jar in a slightly warm but mostly dark place during this time.
  • Rinse the sprouts 2-3 times a day and place them back on the jar holder or bowl after each rinse. I rinse at meal times so I remember. After a few days, all the seeds should start to break open and grow.
  • Keep up with the rinsing and keep the seeds in a darkish place until the raw sprouts are about an inch long. At this point they can tolerate some indirect sunlight or low light exposure.
  • Eat the seeds once you see some dark green leaves, usually 3-4 days after they start to sprout.

Nutrition

Nutrition Facts
How to Grow Broccoli Sprouts
Amount Per Serving (1 cup)
Calories 8 Calories from Fat 2
% Daily Value*
Fat 0.2g0%
Saturated Fat 0.02g0%
Polyunsaturated Fat 0.1g
Monounsaturated Fat 0.02g
Sodium 2mg0%
Potassium 26mg1%
Carbohydrates 1g0%
Fiber 1g4%
Sugar 0.1g0%
Protein 1g2%
Vitamin A 51IU1%
Vitamin C 3mg4%
Calcium 11mg1%
Iron 0.3mg2%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

Notes

This whole process usually takes about a week. I start a new batch every 1-2 days so we have a constant supply.

The Best Place to Grow Broccoli Sprouts

I’ve tried various places and find this works best to place the jar on the counter above my dishwasher right before I go to bed. I cover the jar with a towel and start the dishwasher so a small amount of heat comes through the counter and helps the seeds sprout more quickly. That said, it also works to leave the jar anywhere on the counter or place it inside a cabinet at room temperature.

After a while, the sprouting just becomes part of the natural rhythm of the day and week.

To Store the Broccoli Sprouts

Wait at least 12 hours from the last rinse so all remaining moisture can drain off. Replace the sprouting lid with a regular mason jar lid or transfer it to an airtight container. Place in the refrigerator and store for up to a few weeks (though I recommend using them as quickly as possible).

How to Boost Sulforaphane in Broccoli Sprouts

These adorable sprouts are already one of the best sources of sulforaphane. But, if you want to be an overachiever, there are a couple of ways to increase the sulforaphane content before you eat them. The method I’m about to recommend is counterintuitive … heat them up. 

I know, I know, I already said not to heat them above 158 degrees. But it turns out heating them to just below that actually increases sulforaphane. Heating to an exact temperature may also deactivate sulforaphane nitriles, which aren’t as beneficial. If we hit an exact temperature of around 158 degrees Fahrenheit, it deactivates the sulforaphane nitrile and not the myrosinase needed for optimal sulforaphane. 

Dr. Patrick explains the sweet spot is heating to exactly 158 degrees Farenheight for 10 minutes. See her process in the video below. At her suggestion, I heat water and use a digital thermometer that beeps when it reaches temperature. As soon as the water hits 158, I pour it into a jar with the sprouts and set a timer for 10 minutes. Then, I let it cool and blend it in a blender.

Fair warning: a broccoli sprout smoothie is an acquired taste. I do it because it’s nutritious, but as you’d expect with a sulfur-containing food, it has a strong taste. 

You don’t have to drink it straight up. You could also take a small handful and add them to your favorite fruit smoothie or juice. In small amounts, the flavor shouldn’t be too intense.

Have you ever grown broccoli sprouts? If so, what are your favorite ways to include them in your diet?

This article was medically reviewed by Dr. Scott Soerries, MD, Family Physician and Medical Director of SteadyMD. As always, this is not personal medical advice and we recommend that you talk with your doctor.

Have you ever grown broccoli sprouts? Will you join the sulforaphane fan club and start now? If you already grow broccoli sprouts, tag me (@wellnessmama) in your photos on social media so I can see!

Katie Wells Avatar

About Katie Wells

Katie Wells, CTNC, MCHC, Founder of Wellness Mama and Co-founder of Wellnesse, has a background in research, journalism, and nutrition. As a mom of six, she turned to research and took health into her own hands to find answers to her health problems. WellnessMama.com is the culmination of her thousands of hours of research and all posts are medically reviewed and verified by the Wellness Mama research team. Katie is also the author of the bestselling books The Wellness Mama Cookbook and The Wellness Mama 5-Step Lifestyle Detox.

Comments

123 responses to “How to Grow Broccoli Sprouts (& Why We All Should)”

  1. April Avatar

    I have just begun my sprouting journey and love watching the process. Also I am excited to try these little guys. However, when I woke up this morning to go do the rinse drain repeat deal, I noticed some white fuzz on the sprouts. Is that normal? Is that safe? I am wondering what I may have done wrong. Has anyone ever experienced this? For reference, I am using sprouting jars that sit upside down on a draining dish so there is plenty of airflow. Thanks for your help!

    1. Chuey Avatar

      My mind went immediately to “Those are the teeny tiny roots coming off the main Tap Root. After the tap root bursts out of the seed, the almost microscopic secondary roots branch off. If they were growing in the ground, I guess there woud be continued branching of roots to collect as much water and nutrients a necessary to grow a big ol’ head of broccoli. Since they are only going to need to support the embryonic set of “leaves”, they dont get much bigger roots.
      Of course there’s a possibility it isn’t what I’m thinking; maybe do a Google image search for “broccoli sprouts roots day 2, 3, 4” …whatever. Study your roots closely, and don’t eat em if you arent sure they are good!

  2. Mimi Avatar

    Growing broccoli sprouts in a mason jar, I noticed there were no green leaves on sprouts in the middle if the jar. Only the sprouts next to the glass had green leaves since placing it in indirect sunlight. Please suggest on how I can get green leaves on those in the center. Thank you.

  3. Bethany Beyer Avatar
    Bethany Beyer

    I read somewhere to freeze the sprouts to increase health benefits?

  4. RMR Avatar

    Hi, I’m sorry my OCD needs more specific instructions.
    1.) How many days do you rinse 2-3x a day and put the jar back in a dark place?
    2.) How many days do you rinse 2-3x a day and put in indirect sunlight?

    Would it look like this:
    Day 1: Scoop, wash, soak overnight
    Day 2: Rinse, drain, dark place 2-3x
    Day 3: Rinse, drain, dark place 2-3x
    Day 4: Rinse, drain, dark place 2-3x
    Day 5: Rinse, drain, indirect sun 2-3x
    Day 6: Rinse, drain, indirect sun 2-3x
    Day 7: Rinse, Drain, indirect sun & 12 hrs later eat & store?

  5. Logan Avatar

    All of the tutorials I have read and seen step 6 is always so fuzzy. After you have sprouts about an inch long an d you move to the counter then what? You leave on the counter for a while? Do you keep rinsing? No one is very clear on this step.

    1. Chuey Avatar

      I always move the sprouts to the counter when they are even less than an inch long. They will grow and green up on the counter for a 2-3 days, then refrigerate. Rinse 2-3 times a day while on the counter, and at least once a day while in the frige. Drain well! Start a new batch right away and adjust how often you start more according to how much you’re consuming.

  6. Jennifer Avatar
    Jennifer

    What’s your recipe for the sprout smoothie/shake? This is a great article!
    Thanks much!

  7. Brenda Avatar
    Brenda

    Question:
    Do you continue to rinse three times a day once they are an inch long and no longer in the dark? Still yellow waiting for them to green.

    1. Chuey Avatar

      You can green them up just putting the jar under a table lamp (incandescent) for about a day.
      I’ve always continued rinsing the sprouts when they are ready, one time a day, storing in fridge in their glass jars. I try to make the amount I will consume in three or four days max. You can start a new jar when you start eating the first jar. Best way to have fresh ones always at the ready: EAT THEM!

  8. Gretchen Avatar
    Gretchen

    So when you say broccoli seeds, are they the ones you actually garden with or are they a specific type of sprouting seed??

    1. Chuey Avatar

      I’m under the impression seeds specifically for sprouting are pre-sanitized. Which I had no idea was a thing. If you’re sanitizing your own seeds, it’s a bunch of steps and rigamarole, and I’m happy to pay someone else to do it. I honestly don’t know if it would save money to do your own sanitizing. I don’t know what would happen if you skipped sanitizing. [I’ve never rinsed my rice before cooking either, but recently learned I’m the last person who doesn’t. (!)]
      Seriously though, sprouts are particularly susceptible to icky things like salmonella and e.coli (both opportunistic pathogens, pretty much). Fastidious habits are crucial throughout the sprouting process, and possibly more so when serving them from the storage jar.

  9. Barbara G Avatar
    Barbara G

    Hello. I was trying to find out how long should a package of seeds last. I bought a bag, and at first, they sprouted fine. Now, I am having trouble. Is it my fault for not using them up quicker? Thanks

    Barbara G.

  10. Shirley Scott Avatar
    Shirley Scott

    Someone said that you can have a autoimmune reaction from broccoli sprouts and that along with killing cancer cells can also kill good cells is this true I have antibodies that can cause blood clots and so far I haven’t had any problems but I’m afraid since brocolli sprouts activate genes that it might cause me problems do I have something to worry about

  11. Julia Avatar

    Thank you for this how to! I’ve never really grown anything for myself and this seems like the easiest way for me to grow my own greens!

  12. Rosie Avatar

    Thanks for the info on growing and the benefits! What portion of sprouts per person per day is recommended for maximum health benefits?

  13. Ki Avatar

    Hi,

    Why exactly do we have to store the jar in a dark, warm place? Like, explicitly, why?

    Do we have to do that with the Gefu Bivita sprouting Jar? I read somewhere that it eliminates the need to do that, without knowing what that need is.

    If you haven’t heard of it, here is a link to the Gefu Bivita Sprouting Jar.

    https://www.amazon.com/GEFU-GE18910-Sprouting-JAR-Black/dp/B01ANTALGK/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&linkCode=ll1&tag=wellnessmama-20&linkId=53f8ea3e70758bf0ab6cb48eb95df5b3&language=en_US

    P.S.

    I am just starting to sprout.

  14. Jamie Avatar

    Thank you for posting this article. Question: I’m assuming since you linked to non-organic seeds that you don’t think having organic seeds is critical? Thanks.

    -J

      1. Jamie Avatar

        But the ones you linked to above do not appear to be organic. They are kosher, but not organic. The links appear in this section: How to Grow Broccoli Sprouts: Ingredients & Supplies Needed

  15. Matt Grantham Avatar
    Matt Grantham

    I am not sure I understand the concerns regarding organic seeds I assume I would be correct we are not in any way talking about the genetic makeup of the plant in terms of it being GMO versus heirloom for instance. Thus it seems the only concern would be whatever pesticide residue that i left on the seed and could be ingested? One would think most of the residue would be on the outer layer of the seed and amenable to rinsing? I guess it is possible pesticides might mess with the viability of the seed?

    I get it in this context that the residue is conceivably an issue but I really do not get the idea in something like organic tomato seeds where the residue is minuscule and certainly not consumed directly. Sorry if this is a tangent

    1. Chuey Avatar

      I wondered the same…and here’s as close as i can get to plausible:
      GMO is a proces where pesticides/herbicides are bred INTO the plant. In the case of Potatoes, at least, the farmer can spray the weeds in his potato field with Roundup, and not affect the potato plant itself. It is bred to be herbicide resistant. Makes farming more efficient, but who wants to eat that stuff? To me that says I am ingesting herbicide sprayed onto the plant I’m gonna eat!

      I’ve avoided using any chemicals in my garden or yard since the 70s, but still buy non-organic produce at grocery. Go figure. I avoid GMO anything though. And I NEVER Use Roundup. Ever.

      So to answer your question, I think it’s broader than just the seed viability. We need to avoid consuming GMO/non-organic products as well as avoid supporting companies that depend on and promote unhealthy practices. Especially those whose policies act against the health and welfare of children, and of farmers in struggling Countries whom they would exploit. (Geesh! Talk about a Tangent!)

  16. Heather Avatar
    Heather

    I’m wondering what quantity of broccoli sprouts should ideally be consumed daily in order to gain the health benefits? Thank you!

  17. Anne Avatar

    Am I remembering correctly that you mentioned a Brocolli Pesto recipe that you would include in the show notes? Or was that from another podcast? I was listening to a bunch of them on a long car ride, so I may be confused. Either way, I searched your site for the recipe, but nothing turned up. Would you be willing to share it?! Thanks!

  18. Susan Avatar

    Katie, I use a round sprouter, with trays,which I love, however, the broccoli sprouts tend to stink and go bad after a days. I have tried reducing the amount of seeds to just one tablespoon instead of the recommended 2, and other strategies, but I continue to experience difficulties. I don’t have these issues with alfalfa seeds.

    I clean the trays throughly after using, and follow the sprouting directions.
    I do enjoy them very much and would like to again.

    Any solutions you can share would be great.
    Thanks!

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