Monday, December 20, 2010

Sprouting at Home

I LOVE sprouts; whether it's alfalfa sprouts in a pita sandwich, or crunchy mung bean sprouts topping a steaming bowl of pho, it's all good to me. I refuse to buy sprouts in the stores though; they are WAY overpriced, the selection is pretty lacking, and I've seen some downright sad looking sprouts here in our stores. 

Luckily, it's INCREDIBLY easy and inexpensive to grow your own sprouts at home. All you need are the seeds, a sprouting jar, and a little bit of knowledge; before you know it, you will be enjoying your own sprouts in just a few days.

Crispy, crunchy, and CHEAP. 

All of this came from 2 Tbsp of dried seed.

One of the best sites online for information about sprouting is Sprout People. Not only do they sell sprouters and seeds, but provide an incredible amount of information about sprouts and their health benefits. 

To sprout, you MUST start with good seeds. Here I have some alfalfa seed, purchased from a local family-owned organic market

I store my dried seeds in mason jars to keep out any moisture/bugs/etc.

Next, you will need a sprouting jar. I have a storebought one as well as a homemade jar, and both work wonderfully.

I paid about $7 for this one, called "The Jar" at a local market.

It comes with 3 screen-top lids that screw on to a wide-mouth glass jar.

The red top is ideal for black-eyed peas, chickpeas and peanuts.
The green top is ideal with lentils, mung beans and wheat berries.
The yellow top is ideal for alfalfa, broccoli and radish.

If you want to make your own, all you need is a quart mason jar, a canning band/ring, and some form of screen. I purchased rounds of plastic craft canvas at a local craft store (Michael's/Hobby Lobby/Joann's/etc should carry it), and trimmed off the outermost ring to fit on top of my jar.

The canning band will secure the screen to the jar. 

NOTE: I'm using a standard-mouth mason jar, not a wide-mouth jar.

Because of the size of the holes, this method really only works for larger sprouts such as mung, lentil or wheat berries.

For a finer screen, you can also cut screen mesh (like for windows) to fit or use muslin or cheesecloth

Before you can grow any sprouts, the dry seeds need to be soaked. Place 1-2 Tbsp of seed in the sprouter jar (keep in mind that the sprouts will grow quickly and fill the jar; a little seed goes a LONG way) and fill with about 2 cups of warm water. Let the seeds soak for about 6-8 hours.


After soaking, the sprouts will need to be rinsed and drained. First, drain the soak water through the holes in the screened top.

Next, rinse the seeds with cool water (about 65 degrees). Turn the faucet on high; the increased water pressure will help aerate the seeds and sprouts. Swirl the jar around and drain well by shaking the jar. You want to drain as much water as possible to prevent molding; the seeds need to be moist, but not soaked.

Prop the jar at an angle with the screened top facing downward to allow drainage as well as ventilation. A sink strainer works great for this. 

Low-tech but it works - I prop my jars at an angle inside a plastic ice bin. Ignore the 2nd jar - those sprouts suffered a premature accidental death (basically they fell over and the jar broke).

Repeat draining and rinsing 2-3 times per day. Typically, I will rinse/drain once in the morning before work, once in the evening when I get home from work, and once just before bedtime. The seeds will begin sprouting in a day or two.

After 24 hours; most of the seeds have already sprouted. 

After 48 hours; all the seeds have sprouted and are filling up almost half of the jar.

After 72 hours; these sprouts are ready to de-hull in the next day or so.

After 3 days, the alfalfa sprouts nearly fill the entire jar.

After 3-4 days, the hulls will slough off of the sprouts. Once this occurs, they can be removed by either changing to a larger holed screen lid, or by submerging the sprouts in cold water and letting the hulls float to the top.

After 4 days; the sprouts are jammed into the jar and are ready to enjoy.

After 4 days, the alfalfa sprouts have filled the entire jar and the hulls can be removed.

The hulls are completely safe to eat if you do not want to remove them. I prefer to remove the hulls both by soaking/skimming as well as changing screen lids. First, I soaked my sprouts in cold water and let the sprouts sink and the hulls float to the top. 

I then skimmed off as many of the hulls as I could, then returned the sprouts to their sprouting jar. I then placed a slightly larger screen lid on top and drained the sprouts; the hulls were removed with the water, but the sprouts remained in the jar. 

The alfalfa hulls have floated to the top to be skimmed off. 

Hulls drain out, sprouts stay in. 

Make sure to wring out as much of the water as possible before storing the sprouts. Shake, squeeze and blot them to make sure they are nice and dry when stored. Wet sprouts will become moldy sprouts.

I store mine in plastic take-out soup containers. I place a piece of folded paper towel in the bottom to absorb any excess moisture and keep them in the refrigerator for several days.

Reusing soup containers - I do it because I'm cheap. Being environmentally-friendly is an added bonus.


  1. MMmmmm Home sprouts! It doesn't get any better than a fresh batch of watercress sprouts!

    Note for you re the accidental breakage. There is no need to keep the jars on an angle. See the little raised ring and four spiky bits sticking out? Legs! I keep mine on their heads in a drip tray from an old window box shaped planter - works great!

    1. Great tip, DartLady!! I'll have to try that - thanks!!