“A total hippie food”… that was what I thought as I looked down at the turkey, sprouts, and avocado sandwich on flax bread that my friend had insisted I “had to try.”
This was well before my transition to real food and I wasn’t enthralled with the rather dry sandwich, but I really liked the texture of the sprouts.
These days, if sprouts are hippie food, I must be a hippie because I have some growing on my counter right now.
Turns out, sprouts have a lot of health benefits and are an inexpensive and easy-to-grow local superfood.
Why Grow Sprouts at Home?
Sprouts are soaked and germinated seeds, nuts or grains that are full of beneficial enzymes, vitamins and amino acids. They are also incredibly easy to grow at home on a kitchen counter with plain water and minimal equipment.
I prefer to sprout any beans or grains that I consume to make the nutrients more bioavailable and to reduce lectins and phytic acid. I also like sprouting certain seeds and nuts for adding to salads and stir frys.
Sprouts are incredibly nutritious and inexpensive, and take only a few days to grow. Sprouting increases the nutrient content of seeds and legumes and makes them easier to digest. If you’ve never tried to grow sprouts at home, you are missing out on an easy way to have fresh food year round.
The most common seeds used to grow sprouts are:
- Broccoli Seeds
- Red Clover Seeds
- Mung Beans
- Pumpkin Seeds
- Sunflower Seeds
- Chia Seeds
Supplies to Grow Sprouts
There is equipment specifically designed for sprouting, like sprouting trays, which make sprouting easier and allow for more growth at once, but all that is really needed are:
- A wide-mouth quart size or half gallon size mason jar
- A Sprouting lid or a piece of cheesecloth and a rubber band
- A bowl or box to help the jar stand upside-down at an angle
- Organic Sprouting seeds (I buy mine in bulk here) – Make sure they are specifically labeled “sprouting seeds” and “organic”
How to Grow Sprouts
- Wash hands well and make sure that all equipment is clean and sterile.
- Pour one type of seed into the jar. Use about 1 teaspoon of small seeds like alfalfa or broccoli or 1/4 cup of beans and lentils (for a quart size jar).
- Cover with 1 cup of filtered water and put lid or cheesecloth over the jar.
- Allow to soak for up to 12 hours. It is often easiest to do this at night and soak overnight.
- In the morning, strain off the water. This is easily done with a sprouting lid. If you are using a cheesecloth, strain through a fine strainer and return to jar.
- Rinse well with filtered water and drain again.
- Place upside down at a slight angle so that excess water can drain off and air can get in. I find a dish rack or medium size bowl is perfect for this.
- Re-rinse the sprouts several times a day with filtered water, returning to the tilted position each time.
- You should see sprouting in a day or two and most sprouts are ready to harvest in 3-7 days.
- When done sprouting, rinse thoroughly in cool, filtered water and store in a covered container in the fridge for up to a week.
There are some important notes about growing sprouts. Please read this article for cautions and specific instructions. Some seeds (like walnuts and pecans) do not sprout and some beans (like Kidney beans) are dangerous and should never be eaten sprouted. Also, special care should be taken to avoid bacteria growth in sprouts.
Ever eaten sprouts or made your own? Let me know below!
Discussion (29 Comments)
I got a Sprout House sampler pack to start with so I could decide my favorites seeds before buying in quantity.
me too. just did the same.
Firstly, is quinoa normally difficult to sprout?
Also, can sprouted nuts, seeds or grains be boiled or must they omly be eaten raw? I’ve tried eating mung beans raw after sprouting, however I find thrm hard to digest and get an upset stomach.
Your insights would be mostly appreciated.
Thanks in advance,
I had bought the sprouting trays but the mason jar method is so simple! I’m a domestic flight attendant, and can bring the mason jar with me and have fresh sprouts. It’s like gardening on the airplane!
I soak mung beans for twelve hours in a glass of water. Then tip them into a steamer – stainless steel, lots of holes in the bottom. The beans are swollen by now so don’t fall through. Then I put a plate underneath and a lid on top to keep light out – this is what makes them sprout like crazy. With light everything slows to a crawl and by the time the shoots are a few inches long the seed husks are starting to rot. Then once in the morning and once at night I fill the plate underneath with water. This plate isn’t flat – it has raised edges so the water rises a few mm inside the steamer, soaking the seeds. This soaking method prevents them from being disturbed. If for example I use tap water from above then the seeds get disturbed and their shoots grow at all sorts of crazy angles, slowing down their growth upwards. the idea is to get uniform shoots a few inches long all growing upwards so that it’s easy to grasp them and wash off the husks at the bottom.
Once the shoots are an inch or so long and tightly packed together then it’s easy to soak them from above instead of soaking the plate below.
One or more steamers can be placed on top of each other with different sprouts in them.
I appreciate the instructions for uniform sprouts
I’ve grown sprouts before and it was a very good experience. After a move I got out of the habit but I plan to start back again soon. I really like the tip of using mason jars to do this. I’ve always used a sprouting tray that I got along with my beans from sproutpeople.org. I’ve never tried your supplier but I’ll check it out. I liked sprouts mainly in salad and sandwich wraps. Thanks for posting the article, it gives me renewed motivation to get back to sprouting!
How do you sterilize your sprouting jars?
Katie - Wellness Mama
I run them through the dishwasher…
How come you need sprouting seeds specifically? Why won’t normal planting seeds work? Or chia seeds you get at the grocery store? Or normal dried beans? And on the microgreen post you had a link to a mix of seeds for growing microgreens. Can you not use sprouting seeds to grow microgreens or grow normal brocolli seeds and just trim them down while they’re micro?
Katie - Wellness Mama
You can use any seeds, sprouting seeds and microgreen seeds are just typically cheaper because they are in bulk and are not sprayed with anything
Can all of these be sprouted in their food state or only as seeds?
Katie - Wellness Mama
For sprouts and micgrogreens, seeds are needed.
Thanks! For some reason this has always intimidated me. I guess b/c I always saw people w/these elaborate sprout growing things that I couldn’t afford. It made it seem like I would have moldy stinky sprouts if I didn’t have one…..I’ll give it a try.
Thanks for this! Your tip on using a tilted jar in a bowl to drain & aerate is brilliant.