21 January, 2012

Sprout It Out

Rarely do we come across things that are as easy as they sound.  Growing your own sprouts is one of those things.  Plus they're cheap and fun to grow as well as nutritious to eat!  Sprouts are packed with digestible vitamins, minerals, enzymes, proteins and fiber.

My sprouting is pretty basic, I like having alfalfa sprouts around for sandwiches, salads, and burgers but there are many other types and uses I haven't explored such as grain-sprouted bread or jumbo mung beans for stir fry.  Oh the joys of sprouting the future holds!

Like all raw foods sprouts can suffer from contamination.  Leafy greens, eggs, peanut butter and even ice cream are recalled for this reason.  Growing your own sprouts at home with certified organic seeds is safer than commercial sprouts.  Just another reason to DIY.

Let's get started with materials.

I sprout with the Sprout-Ease Toppers, I bought them a few years back at my local natural food store but you can pick them up here at MotherNature.com for $3.30.  If you don't dig plastic I found these stainless steel sprout toppers from The Sprout People for $10. The great thing about both of these toppers is they fit right on a wide mouth mason jar and there are 3 different sieve sizes that can be used for different seeds and different stages of the process.  You can also use them to sprout 3 jars at a time but that depends on your sprout consumption.  If you're feeling ambitious and not as lazy as me you can make your own using wire mesh and canning rings.

Next you'll need a wide mouth mason jar.  If you don't already have some around the house try the thrift store or borrow one from a friend so you won't have to buy a whole case.  I use the pint size but a quart jar will work just fine.

Finally you need seeds.  I picked mine up at the same natural food store I got the toppers but you can purchase them online if you can't find a provider nearby.  It's recommended to use certified organic seeds and I suggest starting out with alfalfa since they're versatile in their uses.

Now here's how you do it.

1.) Add the seeds.  In my very un-exact-but-works-for-me way I add enough seeds to just cover the bottom of the jar.  If you like to measure 1-2 T should do the trick.

2.) Clean your seeds.  Use the smallest sieved topper and rinse the seeds until the water runs clear.  Not everyone does this but I think it follows the BMPs of sprouting.  Why the jar in my picture has no top on yet?  I don't know, I am the queen of procrastination.

3.)  Soak seeds for 3-4 hours.  Here the seeds are soaking up water so they can begin germination.  This time isn't exact.  If I start my sprouts in the morning I drain them after lunch and if I start them in the afternoon I drain them after dinner.  Pretty precise right? Also larger seeds such as lentils or mung beans will require 6-8 hours.

4.)  Rinse 2-3 times a day. This only takes a minute and you do it in passing. Rinsing provides the sprouts with water and keeps them clean and sanitary.  When I first started sprouting I was so excited and rinsed whenever I entered the kitchen.  Now I just do it in the morning and at night.  Store the jar upside down at an angle in between rinsing so the sprouts are not in standing water and well ventilated.  The soaking process in step 3 is the only time your jar should be right side up until completion.  Mine typically chill on our kitchen counter propped against something.

5.)  Enjoy watching them grow!  I love watching plants grow and sprouts are no exception.  It happens so fast that they provide almost instant gratification.  The sprouts you have at night are noticeably bigger than the sprouts you had that morning.

6.)  Rinse out the hulls.  When you notice the sprouts shedding their hulls switch out the top to the next sieve size or even the largest if the sprouts don't fall through.  For me this happens around day 3.  Rinse and swirl and get as many hulls out as you can.  Do this every time you rinse from here on.  Just get what you can, you won't get them all and they're not harmful so don't stress to much about it.  

7.)  Give them some sun.  A day or 2 before completion put them in a sunny spot to let the chlorophyll develop.  Alfalfa sprouts take 4-5 days so do this around day 3 or 4.

8.)  Enjoy!  It's time to eat them when you say it's time.  Different amounts of time and sun exposure yield differences in flavor and crunch in your sprouts so experiment to find what you like best!  Store in the fridge with the smallest sieved topper or transfer to another container.  The cold will stop the growth and keep them fresh.  Give them a rinse before eating to freshen them up even more.


  1. Very cool!

    I linked to your adorable mushroom crochet tutorial in my Friday Favorites post today, I would be honored if you stopped by to check it out!

    xo, Megan

    1. Thank you so much for featuring my little mushroom! I get really excited when anyone comments, follows or links to me. It lets me know someone has seen what I'm posting and that maybe they like it!