3 Reasons to Grow Your Own Sprouts

Sprouts are easy to grow. It takes 2 minutes a day: 1 minute in the morning and 1 minute in the evening to rinse and drain the sprouts. After six or seven days, the sprouts are ready to eat. Some varieties, such as lentil sprouts, grow faster and are ready in four or five days.

Sprouts are economical. Two tablespoons of clover seeds cost about 60 cents and will expand to fill a quart jar. That’s about eight cents for a ½-cup serving. A pound of clover seeds is about 2½ cups and it will grow into 80 cups of sprouts. Lentil sprouts are even cheaper.

Sprouts are nutritious. They often contain more nutrients than freshly-harvested mature vegetables. Plus, factor in the nutrient loss that happens during shipping and storage of vegetables. This makes the nutrient difference even more significant.

 Sprout Safety

Some nutrition writers lead you to believe that certain sprouts contain toxins and should not be eaten. This is a myth.

In case you are wondering about the safety of eating sprouts, keep this in mind: no salmonella outbreaks have been traced to home-grown sprouts or to organic seeds.

Follow these tips for safely growing sprouts:

  • Buy only food-grade seeds that are intended for sprouting.
  • Purchase seeds from reputable companies that test seeds for contamination. Most natural food stores and seed companies sell seeds for sprouting. My favorite is Sprout People.
  • Buy organic seeds since they are handled more carefully.
  • Use clean jars and water, and refrigerate finished sprouts.

What to Sprout

The easiest to spout and most common seeds are:

  • Clover
  • Alfalfa
  • Broccoli
  • Radish
  • Lentil

Equipment for Sprouting

Wide-Mouth Mason Jar: If you don’t have a wide-mouth mason jar, you can likely get one from a friend or neighbor. Most thrift stores have them for sale.

Sprouting Lids: You can buy sprouting lids that fit on wide-mouth mason jars at most natural food stores, or online  They are available in wire mesh or plastic.  For the greatest versatility, it’s ideal to have three different sizes of mesh lids: fine, medium, and large like the set offered by Sprout People.  But you can get buy with one or two sizes, depending on the size of the seed you sprout.

For a DIY version, you can cut a piece of metal mesh to fit inside a mason jar ring. Or you can use pantyhose or two layers of cheesecloth and a rubber band to hold it in place.

Other Sprouting Methods:

One of the most popular sprouting methods is the Easy Sprout Sprouter. I have used it and it is definitely the easiest method I’ve tried. The only downside is that it is plastic. 
Easy Sprout Sprouter

There are also trays, bags, and automatic sprouters. I am focusing on the jar method here.

How to Grow Sprouts

Day 1: Evening: Place seeds in the jar and cover with two inches of water.  Place a fine-mesh sprouting lid on the jar and soak overnight or for 8-12 hours. This is what lentils look like after they have soaked overnight.lentils soaking in a jar

Day 2: Morning: Drain thoroughly. Fill the jar with cool tap water and drain thoroughly.  Gently shake the jar to distribute seeds along the side. Place the jar, screen side down, in a cereal bowl or dish drainer an angle to allow ventilation and drainage.lentils starting to spout in a jar

Day 2: Evening: Fill the jar with cool tap water. Drain thoroughly.

Day 3: Morning: Fill the jar with cool tap water. Drain thoroughly. Move to a well-lit area (not direct sunlight) so sprouts develop chlorophyll and turn greener.

Day 3: Evening: Fill the jar with cool tap water. Drain thoroughly.

Day 4: Morning: Fill the jar with cool tap water. Drain thoroughly. If desired, switch to a larger mesh lid in order to rinse away the hulls that float to the top. (This makes the sprouts more attractive and helps them keep longer.)

Day 4: Evening: Start eating lentil sprouts. Do not rinse first. Refrigerate leftover sprouts.lentil sprouts

For other sprouts: Fill the jar with cool tap water. Drain thoroughly.

Day 5: Morning: Fill the jar with cool tap water. Drain thoroughly.

Day 5: Evening: Fill the jar with cool tap water. Drain thoroughly.

Day 6: Morning: Fill the jar with cool tap water. Drain thoroughly.

Day 6: Evening: Start eating the sprouts if they are ready. Do not rinse first.

Sprouts are ready to harvest when the leaves are open, mostly green, the sprouts have grown 1-1½ inches long, and the jar is full. alfalfa sprouts

If sprouts are not quite ready, repeat the rinsing and draining for 1 more day.

How to Eat Sprouts

Eat the sprouts by the handful, in salads, sandwiches, or wraps, or anywhere you would use lettuce.

salad with sprouts

How to Store Sprouts

Let the sprouts drain for 8-12 hours. Replace the mesh lid with a solid lid. Refrigerate and eat within several days.

 

How to Store Seeds for Sprouting

Store seeds in a cool, dark, dry place. A jar in the refrigerator or freezer works well. Or in a cool place in the pantry.

To Learn More about Sprouting

Sprout People

Sproutman

Sprouts—The Miracle Food: The Complete Guide to Sprouting by Steve Meyerowitz

Print Recipe
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How to Grow Sprouts

No dirt or green thumb required. Sprouts are an easy, inexpensive way to “green” up your diet. Don’t limit yourself to alfalfa sprouts. Try other sprouts such as clover, radish, and lentil.
Prep Time2 mins
Total Time12 mins
Course: Salad, Vegetable
Cuisine: American
Keyword: gluten-free, oil-free, raw, vegan
Servings: 8
Calories: 4kcal
Author: Heather Reseck

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons alfalfa or clover seeds
  • 1 cup cool water

Instructions

  • Place seeds in the jar and cover with two inches of water. Place the fine mesh sprouting lid on the jar and soak overnight or for 8-12 hours.
  • Drain thoroughly. Fill the jar with cool tap water and drain thoroughly. Gently shake the jar to distribute seeds along the side. Place the jar, screen side down, in a cereal bowl or dish drainer an angle to allow ventilation and drainage.
  • Repeat rinsing and draining thoroughly every 8 to 12 hours—in the morning and the evening.
  • Day 3: Move to a well-lit area (not direct sunlight) so sprouts develop chlorophyll and turn greener.
  • Day 4: If desired, switch to the medium mesh lid in order to rinse away the hulls that float to the top. (This makes the sprouts more attractive and helps them keep longer.)
  • Day 6: Sprouts are ready to harvest when the leaves are open, mostly green, the sprouts have grown 1-1½ inches long, and the jar is full.
  • Eat plain, in salads, sandwiches, or wraps.
  • To refrigerate: Let drain for 8-12 hours. Replace the mesh lid with a solid lid. Use within several days.
  • Makes 4 cups; 8 (½ -cup servings)

Notes

Variations:
Lentil Sprouts: Substitute ½ cup lentils for alfalfa seeds. Cover with 4 inches of cool water. Start with the medium mesh sprouting lid. Repeat rinsing and draining twice a day for 4-5 days, until the sprouts have ¼ -½ -inch tails. Switch to the large mesh lid in order to rinse away hulls. Use in salads, in Curried Lentil Sprout Salad or in sandwiches.

Nutrition

Calories: 4kcal | Carbohydrates: 1g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 1mg | Potassium: 13mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 26IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 5mg | Iron: 1mg