Sprouting is ideal for many people, particularly those who want to grow something but might not have a lot of room or don’t live in a climate that is well-suited for an outdoor garden. It is also a great activity to take up during the gardening "off" season. Sprouting takes up very little space and can be done on your kitchen counter.
You can grow sprouts to add to soups, salads, stir-frys, smoothies, sandwiches, and more.
What to Sprout
If you look for sprouts at the grocery stores, odds are good you'll only find a few varieties. The truth is that there are lots of seeds that you can sprout at home, giving you plenty of selection and variety in your diet.
Some great seeds to sprout include beans (Mung, Adzuki), wheat (red, white), lentils (red, green), peas, clover, and broccoli. Each of these types provides its own unique flavor.
Ways to Sprout
When it comes to sprouting your own seeds, you have a few options:
Bag: A very simple way to sprout seeds, the bag method uses a breathable bag (made of material such as hemp) to rinse and drain seeds.
Jar: A jar with a sprouting lid or mesh is used to hold the sprouting seeds, which are rinsed with water and drained through the top.
Sprouter / Sprouting Trays: Best for those who want to grow multiple types of sprouts in a small amount of space. Sprouting trays are stacked on top of each other to hold the seeds.
The Sprouting Process
Keep in mind that each type of sprouting seed may have its own specifications for sprouting. Refer to the information on the seed label for specific instructions, as this is just a basic overview of sprouting. These instructions refer to jar sprouting, but can be used as a general outline for all sprouting.
1. Soak the sprouting seeds in about 3x the amount of water. Most seeds need to soak between 6-24 hours. Refer to your seed packet for a more exact duration.
2. After soaking, drain the water from the seeds thoroughly. Tilt the upside-down sprouting jar to ensure all water trickles out in order to prevent mold. Store in a dark place.
3. Rinse the seeds according the packet instructions, usually about 2-3 times a day. Drain water completely after each rinse. Continue this step for the specified amount of time for the seeds you are sprouting—generally 3-4 days.
4. Once seeds have sprouted (you will see leaves showing up), you may want to “green” them by placing them in a sunny spot for a few hours.
5. Store the sprouts in a container in the refrigerator for a few days to maintain freshness.
Keys to Successful Sprouting
There are some important things to remember during the sprouting process if you want the best possible sprouting results:
- Remember to rinse the seeds 2-3 times a day (depending on type.)
- Drain your sprouts thoroughly after each rinsing. This is vital if you want to prevent mold and spoilage, which can mean a ruined crop.
- Let the seeds soak for the right amount of time in warm water before starting the rinsing and draining process. This is usually between 6-24 hours, depending on size/type of seed.
- If using a jar to sprout, tilt the jar at an angle after rinsing and draining to make sure any leftover water can leave the jar.
- Allow air to circulate in the sprouting container to help prevent mold.
- Keep sprouting seeds out of the light until they start showing leaves. At this point, you can set them in a sunny spot for a few hours to let them develop a green color.
- It may go without saying, but if mold shows up on your sprouts DO NOT eat them. Toss them out and start over.
- Make sure to use organic sprouting seeds when you sprout, since you will be eating the actual seeds.