Sprouting 101: how to sprout and why you should

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Everything you’ve ever wanted to lớn know about sprouting, including what sprouts are, why you should try them, & how lớn sprout.

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Was anyone else really big into sprouting beans when you were a kid? I’m talking the whole put a bean on a damp paper towel inside of a zip-top bag kinda deal. I always loved doing that. I thought it was so much fun lớn see this little unassuming bean go from, well, a little unassuming bean into something alive và green. Once the beanstalk was a certain size, my parents would help me transfer the little dude into a pot with some soil và we’d continue khổng lồ watch him grow.

Eventually, something more interesting would always come along (Sonic the Hedgehog! A new Ghostwriter episode! A movie where Devon Sawa shows his butt!) and my foray into horticulture would end. But fast forward lớn now, và my love of sprouting things comes in so handy in my kitchen!

I’ve been collecting your sprouting questions for a few months now, và we have a lot lớn cover in this post, so I’m going lớn dive right in!


Table of Contents


Okay, how vày I actually sprout?Troubleshooting

What are the benefits of sprouting?

Sprouts are one of the easiest foods you can grow indoors. They require barely any space—if you can fit a Mason jar on your counter, then you have enough space. You don’t need any special equipment. And heck, you don’t even need a sunny window! Sprouts are a veggie that everyone can (and should) grow.

Aside from the fact that sprouts are an easy, cheap, & tasty vegetable anyone can grow, sprouting also has some real nutritional benefits. Sprouting legumes, grains, và seeds makes them much easier khổng lồ digest by breaking down the anti-nutrients that are common in those foods. If you’ve ever had troubles digesting a particular grain or legume, I highly recommend trying it sprouted before writing it off all together. You might be pleasantly surprised that sprouted beans or grains don’t bother your body! In general, sprouting also increases the vi-ta-min C và B nội dung and the fiber! Sprouts rock.

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Is it safe lớn sprout?

I know a lot of folks are worried about sprouting safety because there have been so many outbreaks of salmonella & e.coli associated with sprouts from the grocery store. Why is this the case? Well, the warm humid environment that sprouts grow in is also the prime climate for bacteria khổng lồ spread. In large-scale commercial operations, it’s almost impossible lớn keep the environment clear from all types of pathogens.

But luckily for you, the chance of getting a food-borne illness with sprouts is greatly diminished when you sprout at home. You control the seeds you use (and if they’ve been tested to be không tính phí of salmonella and e.coli). You control if your sprouting jar is clean or not. You control how much air circulation your sprouts get. You control who touches the seeds (and if they wash their hands first). You control how long the sprouts stay in the jar before being rinsed.

Basically, I never buy sprouts from the store (or get sprouts out a restaurant), but I’ve been happily eating sprouts grown at home for a decade now without a lick of trouble. Và if you’re still concerned, you can always cook your sprouts to lớn put the final nail in the coffin of any leftover bacteria.

What can I sprout?

You can sprout almost any legume, seed, or nut. Everything from chickpeas to lớn broccoli khổng lồ millet lớn radish khổng lồ red clover khổng lồ mung beans. There are a few exceptions—not because they won’t grow a sprout, but because the effort required lớn get it “right” isn’t really worth it or because they aren’t good for you.

Chia seeds, flax seeds, và other mucilaginous seeds (the ones that create the goo) are tricky khổng lồ sprout properly. You definitely can do it, but I generally just avoid it because there are so many other seeds that are way easier lớn sprout.

Avoid sprouting kidney beans for raw eating. They contain a toxin that causes nausea, vomiting, & diarrhea in many folks. If you do choose khổng lồ sprout kidney beans, make sure khổng lồ boil the finished sprouts for at least 10 minutes before consuming them.

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Quinoa contains a high concentration of saponins, which in some folks causes a strong allergic reaction that makes them feel ill.

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Nuts like almonds don’t actually make sprouts, they make “soaks,” which is what it’s called when a seed doesn’t produce a root during the sprouting process. They are still delicious, & the soaking process helps break down the anti-nutrients (so digestion is easier) and makes them a healthier choice. Then if you like, you can dehydrate them if you want crunchy snacking nuts.

Do I need special sprouting seeds?

Technically, no. You can walk into the grocery store & pick up a bag of lentils, và chances are, they’ll sprout fine. BUT, I recommend you buy sprouting specific seeds for two reasons:

Here in the States, many foods that come in from other countries are irradiated lớn stop sprouting before they hit our grocery store shelves. This means that no matter how well you take care of your seeds, they are never going khổng lồ sprout.

Sprouting seeds are all tested và verified to be free of e.coli và salmonella. Growers of sprouting-specific seeds take great care khổng lồ make sure the seeds they sell are very clean—meaning they are miễn phí of harmful bacteria và other pathogens that can thrive in the sprouting environment. That bag of lentils you picked up from the grocery store? The packagers of that were assuming your plan was lớn boil them at high heat—which would kill any pathogens. Sprouting seed providers know that isn’t the plan for their seeds & adjust their growing và packaging processes accordingly.

Where vì chưng I get sprouting seeds?

My local health food store carries some packets of sprouting seeds, but the vast majority of my sprouting seeds I purchase online. I’ve ordered sprouting seeds và mixes from Johnny’s Seeds (I really lượt thích their Organic Sprout Mix). But far & away, my favorite place khổng lồ order sprouting seeds is from Sprout People. They have an amazing selection of varieties, mixes, and tools. I’ve also been really impressed with their germination rates and how long the seeds stay viable. I have a few bags from them that are going on three years old—and they sprout just as well as they did the day I go them.

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Do I need special tools?

Nope. To lớn get started, all you need is a large clear jar (you don’t even need a lid), a small piece of natural, breathable fabric (cotton and cheesecloth both work), & a rubber band. That’s it. We tend lớn use wide mouth quart Mason jars for most sprouts, but sometimes we’ll also bởi wide mouth half-gallon Mason jars if we want a lot of sprouts. If you find yourself enjoying sprouting, then I vì chưng recommend spending the few bucks on these sprouter lids that fit on wide-mouth Mason jars. They make the rinsing và draining process ever so slightly easier.

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Can my fur-and-feather babies eat sprouts, too?

Oh, heck yes they can! Chickens, in particular, will devour sprouts lượt thích it’s their job (which it kinda is—to turn those sprouts in my eggs for breakfast). During the winter, I like to grow a few batches of sprouts per month for the chickens khổng lồ get them some fresh food. We like these bird mixes from Sprout People và this foraging set from Peaceful Valley (we also plant that foraging mix).

Dogs & cats are less apt khổng lồ eat seed sprouts themselves, but they vì chưng love themselves some wheat grass—which just means you need lớn let your wheat sprouts grow a little bit longer!

Can I make sprouted grain flour at home?

Sure can. Follow the process below for whatever grain you want lớn use (wheat, rye, etc.), but only let your seeds just begin khổng lồ sprout—you’re looking for at most 1/4” of a sprout. Then place them in a food dehydrator on the lowest setting until completely dry—about 24 hours. Grind in a grain mill, and voila, homemade sprouted grain flour! You’ll probably want to vị a larger volume of sprout (using a half gallon jar works) lớn make enough for baking.