If you’ve been to a fancy restaurant, or even looked around at your local farmers market, you’ve probably seen sprouts.
They’re usually used on salads and work especially well incorporated with the vegetable mixtures created by a spiralizer.
You can also use them in various types of Asian inspired cuisine, sandwiches or in an authentic and tasty stir fry to give the dish a little garnish, or as I like to put it – “fancy it up a bit!”
If you’re curious about growing these yourself, you’ve landed on the right article.
In this piece, I’m going to walk you through the whole process, and share some of the benefits so you can do it at home. It’s an affordable and easy way to kick up the nutrition levels in your diet.
What is Sprouting?
It’s simply the process of taking seeds, grains or legumes, soaking them in water overnight, then rinsing and draining them.
You sprout them for 2-4 days, and then give them another day or so in the sunlight to grow!
It’s a pretty straightforward process, however, the number of days before you can harvest will fluctuate a little depending on what seed varieties you choose.
What Can Be Soaked and Sprouted?
Below are a few options. There are many other options besides these, but the ones listed here are some of the most popular:
- Nuts: Almonds, Cashews, Brazil Nuts, Hazelnuts
- Seeds: Sunflower Seeds, Flax Seeds, Sesame Seeds
- Grains: Amaranth, Oat Groats, Quinoa, Millet, Kamut, Wheat Berries
- Legumes: Adzuki Beans, Chickpeas, Lentils, Mung Beans
What Are the Benefits?
So you might be asking yourself, “why I would want to sprout?”
There are actually a host of reasons.
One of the biggest benefits is that you are able to remove natural agents that protect the seeds from growing too soon, or getting eaten in the wild – which can be very hard on your digestive system.
When you remove the growth inhibitors, you activate the seeds, allowing the release of vitamins and the production of enzymes.
If you’re looking for foods that are more easily digestible, or ones that produce greater quantities of nutrients, then you should definitely start to soak and/or sprout your nuts, seeds, grains and legumes before consuming them.
Also, you can cultivate these indoors – no soil needed, and really no mess! They can be grown any time of year, and you’ll save a lot of money when you stop buying those small, overpriced containers at the grocery store.
What Equipment is Needed?
As you can imagine, the seeds are pretty important in this process. I really like buying them from The Sprout House as this company only uses organic and non-GMO seed.
These greens contain a lot more nutrients than if you were to eat the whole vegetable, making the quality very important.
If you buy a cheaper brand, you may also notice that they have a lower germination rate, whereas these are very successful at producing.
Also, if you choose something like the product pictured above, you get a huge amount and a nice mixed variety for salads, soups and sandwiches.
When it comes to germinating the seeds and growing them properly, you’ll need some kind of container to help you do that. Below are some of the most popular tools and ones I’ve used in the past.
Victorio VKP1014 4-Tray
This product makes the entire process very easy. It’s a 4-tray system, but you can buy more trays and make it into a 5, 6, 7 or even an 8-tray system (but you have to be pretty serious about eating these if you go for 8 trays!).
The base is for catching the water and the 3 trays are for growing.
Simply place 1-2 Tbsp. of seeds on each tray and then pour 2 cups of water in from the top.
This container comes with a 2-year warranty, is made in the USA, and doesn’t take up much space.
It’s also surprisingly affordable when you consider everything you receive.
Another option is a simple glass jar with a lid.
I highly recommend the one-quart glass version shown below:
One Quart Glass Sprouter Jar w/ Strainer Lid available from Amazon
It’s also surprisingly affordable.
This has to be the most common way to get started. You just soak your seeds in the jar, then drain them and set the container on its side.
Expect to see them fully developed in 2-5 days.
What I really like about this product is the lid – it’s breathable, but also functional due to the strainer on top. You can easily rinse and drain without having to take the lid off, which ends up being very convenient and saves a little time.
I have had really great results with these jars and highly recommend them.
Another option is to use a bag instead of a jar. I didn’t learn about this option until recently, but it’s very effective and exceptionally easy.
The Sproutman – Hemp Bag is one of the most popular as it’s so straightforward to use.
Simply place seeds in the bag, dip the entire thing in a large bowl or sink of water, and then hang up. Continue to dip in water to “rinse” 2-3 times every day.
The great thing about this product is it produces a large amount of greens with minimal effort and, I have to say, it looks pretty good once you have a nice green layer coming out of the top!
The bag is very well made and I can see it lasting a very long time; it’s made with all-natural hemp with no dye, and is resistant to mildew and mold. Check it out on Amazon today.
What Does the Process Entail?
Step #1 – Soaking
First, you’ll want to place whatever variety of seeds you’re trying to cultivate in your sprouting jar, mason jar, or even a glass bowl, and add (at least) 2 times as much water as seeds.
For example, if you’re growing clover, add about 1-3 Tbsp. of seeds to 2-4 cups of water.
Then, cover the container with cheesecloth or the lid of your jar. You’re covering the seeds so nothing gets into them, but you still want air to be able to move through them. Soak for 8-12 hours.
Step #2 – Drain & Rinse
Next, you want to drain the water and rinse the seeds. Repeat this process twice. You will then place the jar at an angle, tilted down, in a dark spot that’s also room temperature (not too hot or cold).
You want the jar to be set on its side so all the remaining water can drain out, as you don’t want to give the seedlings any opportunity to mold.
If you use the sprouting bag, you’ll simply dip and drain. I like to hang mine over the sink. You will continue this for 2-4 days, rinsing twice a day – or if it’s really hot, 4 times a day.
Step #3 – Sunshine
On the last day, if your seedlings appear fairly robust, put them out in the light for 1 more day. This will help them to get green, and get all of that nutrient-rich chlorophyll from the sunshine.
Step #4 – Storage
You’ll want to store your harvest in the refrigerator, in a bag or glass container. They will keep for 2-4 days.
Step #5 – Using Your Sprouts
Depending on the variety, you can also add them to most savory dishes.
About Sarah Hagstrom
Sarah is a health food advocate and loves to spend her time whipping up something healthy and delicious in the kitchen and then sharing either on Foodal or on her own blog "The Seasonal Diet" (www.theseasonaldiet.com). She lives in Sunny San Diego with her husband, where they enjoy running on the beach and weekend adventures.