Your guide on how to grow sprouts at home. Learn to make your own sprouting jar, select the right sprouting seeds, know what to sprout and learn about the health benefits. Growing sprouts at home isn’t a taunting task with the right information. It’s easy, healthful and rewarding at the same time!
What Can Be Sprouted?
All grains, beans, nuts and seeds in the whole grain form can be sprouted. Being whole grain means that the grains have not been processed to remove the bran layer and the germ. The beans have not been split in half or canned. The nuts and seeds have not been milled into a powder or paste, and have not been roasted or blanched. In short, any breaking, grinding, heating, cooking, polishing will damage the grains, beans, nuts and seeds so that they will not germinate, or have a reduced chance to germinate. Note the hulling of the outside shell does not prevent germination. For example, brown rice will sprout, and white rice will not. Hulled barley will sprout, and pearl barley will not.
Here is a list of the popular varieties used to grow sprouts.
- mung beans
- hulled barley
- wheat berry
- brown rice
I have grown sprouts personally with half of this list in the past. Sprouting the smaller seeds and beans that produce edible sprouts and microgreens are quite worthwhile. Microgreens, such as radish sprouts, broccoli sprouts and alfalfa sprouts are great in sandwich, salad, smoothie and as a garnish in any dish. Many people like to use edible sprouts such as mung bean sprouts, lentil sprouts and fenugreek sprouts the same way as they use microgreens, but often times I still cook them lightly for easier digestion.
Once you get into sprouting the larger beans and grains, you won’t end up with a food product to be enjoyed for the sprouts. You are getting some extra nutritional values. However, you can not eat them raw, or they may upset your stomach. You will still need to cook them thoroughly, such as sprouted chickpeas and sprouted kidney beans, as would their non-sprouted counterparts.
After all, you may find it isn’t as worthwhile time-wise to sprout the bigger beans and grains. If your goal is to reduce phytic acid (see “sprouts have many health benefits” section for more details), soaking overnight, fermenting and ensuring a long enough cooking time can achieve the same result. Soaking, fermenting and longer cooking are practical alternatives to sprouting when time is limited for preparing the larger beans and grains. When I can plan my meals in advance, I sprout my large beans and chickpeas from time to time, to reduce the cooking time and achieve more tender beans.
Another thing to keep in mind is, although all beans, grains, nuts and seeds can be sprouted, I don’t know for sure if all can be safely consumed. For example, in modern Western culture, you hear about people sprouting their walnuts (I live in Canada; sprouted nut butter is a health fashion); but in traditional Eastern culture, people would throw away sprouted walnuts deeming them no good or poisonous (not poisonous in the way to kill people, but enough irritating substance to upset a weak stomach). There is always controversy in every topic. Until proper studies and science can prove one way or another, I will go with the traditional belief I am familiar with on this one (often there is a reason for it). The bottom line, stick to sprouting what you are comfortable with and those that have been eaten regularly for thousands of years.
What Do You Need to Grow Sprouts at Home?
You will need the following to start sprouting at home.
- A sprouting container can be a home-made sprouting jar (see video). You may use cheesecloth instead of mesh lid for small seeds. You can also purchase a ready-made sprouting lid to fit on a mason jar you already own. Or you can buy a nice sprouting kit that comes with everything to grow sprouts. I recommend buying the sprouting lid as the more economical solution, if you don’t feel like making your own.
- Good quality sprouting seeds are easier to find than you think. See the section above on “What can be sprouted?” for details. You can buy raw organic unprocessed grains, beans and seeds sold as regular foods from grocery stores. They will sprout. Seeds for microgreens are usually sold as specialty sprouting seeds at health food stores or online. Or you can buy a variety pack like this one below to try everything.
Sprouts Have Many Health Benefits
Growing up in Asia, I was always told that sprouts are good for us. Mung bean sprouts, soybean sprouts and pea sprouts are so popular in Asian diet that I think we all take sprouts for granted. Here is to reminding us these tiny sprouts are full of benefits:
- Exceptionally nutrient dense, easy to digest and assimilate
- Rich in antioxidants, phytochemicals, hormones, essential fatty acids, enzymes, vitamins, and chelated minerals
- Phytic acid is broken down increasing mineral absorption (Phytic acid on one hand has been labelled as the major anti-nutrient in all grains, beans and seeds, preventing mineral absorption by binding with minerals, such as iron, zinc, calcium etc. in our digestive track. Phytic acid on the other hand is said to act as an antioxidant and assists in the removal of heavy metal due to the same said ability to bind with minerals. Phytic acid naturally exist in many foods and will never, or need to be, completely eliminated. If you eat a whole food diet and healthy, you shouldn’t need to worry so much as to avoid all foods containing phytic acid. However, for those who have mineral deficiency, on a mostly plant-based diet, I think it may be beneficial to reduce the amount of phytic acid in foods to increase the amount of minerals available. I say this often – there is always 2 sides of the coin and moderation is key.)
- Gluten is broken down reducing gluten sensitivities
- Possess extraordinary life force energy
Recipes to Make with Sprouts
How to Grow Sprouts at Home
- 2-4 tbsp sprouting seeds can be any grains, beans or seeds of your choice
- 1 L mason jar with mesh lid or cheese cloth as cover
- Place the sprouting seeds in a 1 L mason jar. Rinse, drain and add water again. Cover the jar with a sprouting lid or cheese cloth.
- Soak for 6 - 12 hours or overnight.
- Drain and rinse a few times, then place upside down, away from the sun, with a 45 degree angle so that the water can trickle out.
- Repeat step 4 every 12 hours, e.g. once in the morning and once at night.
- You should have good sprouts growing in 3-5 days.
- Store sprouts in the fridge and eat with 7 days.