How To Start Sprouting At Home + 4 Reasons Why You Should

May 14, 2020

Sprouting is one of the simplest, cheapest ways to provide yourself with incredible home-grown nutrition in your own kitchen. Sprouting is like any other kitchen endeavour. It seems pretty daunting until you actually do it, then you’re left wondering what took you so long to try. With simple equipment that you most likely have in your cupboard, and seeds that you already have in your pantry, it’s a simple and empowering practice that brings you one step closer to your food.

What to sprout

Any seed, grain or bean that has the potential to be a plant is sprout-able. These include: lentils, mung beans, chickpeas, alfalfa, broccoli, radish, peas, just to name a few. Most of these ingredients are sold dried in the whole food store, readily available and inexpensive to buy. They can also be sprouted at any time of the year, offering a huge variety of powerful plant-based nutrition, regardless of the season.

4 reasons why sprouts should be a diet staple:

  1. Plant protein: when a seed is sprouted, most of the would-be-adult-plants nutrients transfer to the shoots, one of which is protein. While seeds, grains and beans are inherently high in protein, sprouting increases their content between 15% and 30%, depending on the plant. The quality of protein improves as the sprouting process begins to break down complex proteins into amino acids, the building blocks of protein.
  2. Gut friendly: sprouts are living foods and, as with fermented foods, they’re great for your gut. The sprouting process increases certain naturally-occurring active enzymes, which helps improve digestion. Enzymes are compounds found in raw plants that are needed for nearly every biochemical process that happens in the body, and something that many of our modern diets are lacking. Sprouts are virtually loaded with them. There are up to 100 times more enzymes in sprouts than raw vegetables and fruits and these enzymes also assist in assimilating vitamins and minerals into our systems.
  3. Vitamins and minerals galore: sprouts offer a dense nutrition boost. According to Dr Haas, the author of Staying Healthy With Nutrition, most of the B vitamins are greatly increased, some more than ten-fold – niacin and riboflavin in particular. Vitamin C levels are greatly enhanced in sprouts, along with beta carotene (the vitamin A precursor), and vitamins E and K, calcium, phosphorous and iron.
  4. Decrease anti-nutrients: at the same time, anti-nutrients such as phytic acid, protease and amylase inhibitors are neutralised. This makes a sprout very east to digest with highly absorbable nutrients.

Most seeds, grains and beans can be sprouted in just a few days, start to finish. What you’ll end up with are nutritional powerhouse versions of each, brimming with the aforementioned plant protein and essential vitamins, minerals and enzymes. Sprouts are so nutritious because they are a living food. When we soak a seed, we end its dormancy and ignite the nutrition inside it needed to grow a plant. So when we eat a sprout, we eat this potential.

Sprouts vs. microgreens

Sprouts and microgreens are similar but not quite the same. They develop at different parts of the growing cycle. Sprouts are germinated seeds and tend to grow quickly, usually about 4-6 days. You can think of microgreens as the middle stage between very young seeds (sprouts) and matured seeds (baby greens or full-grown vegetables). Microgreens take a little longer to grow than sprouts, usually about one week to ten days, sometimes longer. They also require light to turn green.

Once sprouted, microgreens provide the added benefit of chlorophyll (the source of the “green” of the leaf). Chlorophyll is a powerful blood cleanser and blood builder. It replenishes and increases our red blood cell count and increases the ability of red blood cells to carry oxygen and deliver us increased levels of oxygen. In a study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, microgreens contained between four to 40 times more nutrients by weight than their fully grown counterparts. There is a huge variety of microgreens available, ranging from different kinds of vegetables to some types of herbs, including; rocket, radish, beets, coriander, sunflower, chia, mustard greens, amaranth and broccoli.

How to sprout at home

What you’ll need:

  • 1 sterilised glass jar (minimum 1/2 litre)
  • small piece of muslin or cheesecloth
  • rubber band
  • a bowl

Simple sprouting

I am presenting you with a very simple, pretty much foolproof technique. If you want to learn more about different methods, applications, as well as help and advice: Sprout People.

Day one (night)

Pick through your chosen seeds before putting them into your sterilised jar. Remove any stones, cracked or damaged seeds, and rinse well. Cover the seeds with 2-3 times the amount of water (e.g. 1 cup seeds – 2-3 cups water). Use pure, filtered, non-chlorinated water. Soak for 8-12 hours.

Day two (morning)

Put a piece of muslin or cheesecloth over the mouth of the jar and secure it with a rubber band. Drain the seeds through the fabric screen, letting all the water run out. Run cool water through the screening, agitate the seeds by swishing them around and drain again. Repeat. Set the jar in a bowl at a 45° angle so that any remaining water can drain out, but air can easily get in. Cover the jar with a clean tea towel, but do not cover the mouth of the jar as the seeds need to breathe.

Day two (night)

Run cool water through the screening, agitate the seeds by swishing them around and drain again. Repeat. Set the jar in a bowl at a 45° angle so that any remaining water can drain out, but air can easily get in. Cover the jar with a clean tea towel, but do not cover the mouth of the jar as the seeds need to breathe.

Day three (morning)

Run cool water through the screening, agitate the seeds by swishing them around and drain again. Repeat. Set the jar in a bowl at a 45° angle so that any remaining water can drain out, but air can easily get in. Cover the jar with a clean tea towel, but do not cover the mouth of the jar as the seeds need to breathe.

Day three (night)

Repeat the same steps as the morning.

Day four (morning)

Repeat the same steps as the night before.

Day four (night)

Repeat the same steps as the morning.

Day five (morning)

Your sprouts should be ready.* The tails should be twice the length of the seed itself (some seeds may take a couple more days).

NOTE: make sure you let the sprouts drain for at least 8 hours after their last rinse before you put them in the fridge. Never store wet sprouts as they will spoil quickly. Store sprouts in the sprouting jar with an airtight lid for up to 7 days in the refrigerator.

*For microgreens: follow the same steps for the first 3 days. On the 4th day, follow the same steps but do not cover. Expose the microgreens to indirect sunlight so the leaves can green. Typically, microgreens take 7 to 10 days to germinate and turn green, but sometimes longer. Follow the exact same steps of rinsing and draining twice a day and propping up in a bowl at a 45° degree angle so the excess water can run out. When they are ready (and dry), store the microgreens in the sprouting jar with an airtight lid for up to 7 days in the refrigerator.

Avoiding mould and bacteria

Ensure your jar or sprouting container is thoroughly sterilised and that you’re rinsing your sprouts with cool, filtered water twice daily. Check that your sprouts and microgreens have plenty of air flow and make sure you don’t cover the mouth of the jar as the seeds need to breathe. Sprouts and microgreens do not like sitting in puddles, which is why it’s important to prop the jar at a 45° angle to allow any excess water to run out. Finally, but most importantly, the last rinse must precede fridge storage by 8 hours (minimum). Never store wet sprouts or else they will spoil. if you follow these steps, you shouldn’t have any problems.

How to use

I love the versatility of sprouts and microgreens. Not only are there so many varieties, but they can be used in many different ways. You can top your sandwiches with them, toss them into salads or dips, fold them into grains, puree them into soups, or add to smoothies. I also love using them as fresh finishings on cooked dishes such as stir fries or curries.

I really hope this article has inspired you and given you the confidence to start sprouting at home. It’s so easy, pretty foolproof and in my opinion is the most empowering kitchen project that your body will thank you for. Feel free to comment below if you have further questions.

comments +

  1. Stormie Taggart says:

    Hi, what are your thoughts on purchasing seed quilts for your micro greens ? I just purchased a few from HAMAMA

    • Rachel Baker says:

      Hi again. I have no experience of these. So long as the material is 100% natural (and sustainable) it’s certainly worth a try. Let me know how you get on.

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