How to Grow Your Own Sprouts in 3 Simple Steps!
Sprouts are extremely nutritious. I’ve been buying them from grocery stores for years, throwing them on my salads, sandwiches, or even in stir-fry. But grow my own? I had thought about that for a long time, but ugh, it seemed like such a hard, time consuming task when I could easily just purchase them from the store (although quite pricey at $3.99 for the smallest container).
It wasn’t until my yoga instructor, Matt, began telling my fiance Dan and I all about how easy it is to grow your own sprouts. Wash, Soak, Rinse? What could be so hard about that? I still wasn’t completely convinced.
Finally, we were at a farmers market in the Finger Lakes region of Upstate New York when we found a shelf filled with all the sprouting seeds you could imagine. We decided to purchase a small container filled with Alfalfa, Chinese Cabbage, and Clover sprouts. It cost about $3.50. I’m embarrassed to admit that small container sat on a shelf in our room for months. The number one thing you have to do before sprouting your seeds is to clean them. You don’t know where the seeds came from, they could have dirt, chemicals, salmonella, or any other type of contaminant on them. The container recommended rinsing them with a small amount of bleach with water. Bleach? No way. I wasn’t going to do that. So there they sat for a few months.
I did research online about alternative cleaning techniques. It always involved a mixture of random things, usually lemon juice included. I’m lazy, and it seemed like a lot of work. Luckily, I found you can buy “Sprout Spray”, which is a safe way to clean your sprouting seeds without having to create a concoction yourself. You can even use this spray on your fruits and vegetables before you eat them.
So the hard part is done. Buy the “Sprout Spray”, and the rest is a piece of cake! You can grow your own nutritious sprouts in 3 simple steps; Wash, Soak, and Rinse!
What you need to buy:
1. Mason Jars (I bought twelve, 32 ounce jars for $10)
2. Sprout Spray (16 ounce bottle cost me $7.99)
3. Sprouting seeds of your choice (they range in prices, from $2 for a small bag to $9 for a larger bag of broccoli sprouts- a little amount of seed goes a long way)
4. Cheesecloth ($2.99)
Total Investment= Between $20-$40, depending on how many different seed packets you buy. Remember, you now own the mason jars forever, and the sprout spray should last you months as well. Depending on how much cheesecloth you buy you may have to replace that, and your bags of sprouting seeds should last you quite a while. My 8 ounce bag of lentil sprouts cost me $4, and I have gotten 4 jars of sprouts already, when using about 2 tablespoons of seeds each time, and I still have a few tablespoons left. Overall, you’re going to save a ton of money from not buying them at the store, you can feel good about how they were grown knowing that you did it yourself without any chemicals or pesticides, and it’s really exciting watching them grow. I think they taste better too 🙂
Step 1: Wash Your Seeds
Grab a dinner bowl from the kitchen, put a tablespoon of the sprout spray in with cold water, and add roughly a tablespoon or two of your seeds. Let them soak for about 30 seconds, agitating the water to make sure all the seeds get cleaned. Drain the water, and give the seeds another quick rinse of cold water. I use a small mesh tea strainer to drain the water without loosing the seeds down the drain.
Step 2: Soak Your Seeds
The seeds need to be soaked in cold or lukewarm water for a period of time before the sprouting process begins. Each type of seed has its own length of time that you should soak them for, but on average its between 6-12 hours. Honestly, I’ve soaked all my seeds for up to 12 hours before (overnight or before I went to work in the morning) and they have all been fine. Smaller seeds such as Alfalfa, Chinese Cabbage, Clover, Broccoli, Radish, etc, can be soaked for 6 hours. Larger seeds such as Fenugreek, Lentils, Garbonzo, Mung, Soybean, etc. typically need 8-12 hours.
I put each separate kind of seed into a mason jar, and make sure it has about 3 times the amount of water covering the seeds as they will expand a little. After the time is up, drain the water from the mason jar, and give the seeds another quick rinse of water.
Step 3: Rinse Your Seeds, and Wait!
Now that the water is drained and the seeds have been rinsed, you leave them in the mason jar (I like to tip the jar on its side, so the seeds can spread out). Take a piece of cheesecloth and put it over the top of the jar, and either use a rubber band or the metal screw part of the mason jar lid, to make sure that the seeds are covered, but that air is allowed to pass through. Your sprouts need to breathe! Put the jar on its side away from sunlight (You can through a towel over the top of the jars if you don’t have a dark room), and leave it there.
Every 12 hours or so (it doesn’t have to be an exact science) rinse the seeds with cold water, making sure to strain all the water out to prevent mold from growing, and then put the jar back where you left it. After a day or so, you will see your tiny seeds begin to sprout! You continue to rinse them every 12 hours for 3-6 days, depending on the seed. I like to let my sprouts grow to be an inch or two long. On the last day, place the sprouts in indirect sunlight, such as next to a window, so that chlorophyll or carotene containing sprouts can get sunlight and turn a little green!
When your satisfied with the length of your sprouts, give them another quick rinse, place them in a sealed container, and put them in the fridge. They are now ready to be enjoyed as a snack, put on salads, sandwiches, or stir-frys! We like to throw them in smoothies, as some sprouts can be quite bitter, so it helps mask the flavor while still getting all the benefits. This is a great way to sneak them into your kids’ diets! They won’t even know they’re in there hidden behind bananas and berries! They also are excellent when sent through the juicer, although the fiber will be removed, the rest of the nutrients are accessed easily and your digestive system will love you for giving it a break from digesting all that fiber. I’ll discuss juicing in another post later.
Your sprouts can last up to 6 weeks in the refrigerator! For best results, continue to rinse them every few days, or even use your “Sprout Spray”.