Seed Sprouting Secrets

   Seeds are usually first soaked for up to 12 hours and then rinsed and drained every 8 hours afterward until they, well... SPROUT! 

Seeds are usually first soaked for up to 12 hours and then rinsed and drained every 8 hours afterward until they, well... SPROUT! 

Why?

Want to add a healthful nutrient-packed punch to your plate? Try sprouts! Sprouts are living food. They are filled with healthy enzymes that are missing from the usual dormant beans, seeds and grains we cook and eat everyday. Sure, you can buy them at the store... even traditional grocery chains now carry a large variety including alfalfa, broccoli, kale and even mung bean - but for some extra fun and freshness maybe it's time to grow your own. Kids will love this super speedy project and who knows... maybe they'll even eat a few! Plus, if you aren't looking forward to doing without your home-grown herbs and veggies throughout the winter, think of sprouting as your very own kitchen garden. Good news for all you gadget gals (or guys) - you'll find plenty of fancy sprouting doohickies on the market. For the rest of us, you've probably already got everything you need to start sprouting!

What do you need?

Basically some glass containers, water and food-grade dried seeds or beans - NOT the kind you plant in the yard as most are treated with chemicals. My husband and I eat a lot of peanut butter so I always have plenty of empty jars around. If you don't eat peanut butter (what!) then any clean glass jar will do - jam, pickle, mayo, whatever - you don't even need the lid. All your empties ended up in the recycling bin? A shallow dish works fine too.

You need to loosely cover your seeds while they're sprouting plus you'll need to drain and rinse them regularly. I use cheese cloth cut to fit the top of my jar, attached with a rubber band. If you purchase sprouting jars they will most likely have a screen insert in the lid to let you drain and refill your container. If you are sprouting in a dish then you can just cover it with a paper towel or clean kitchen towel but you'll need to use a fine sieve to rinse and drain your sprouts. For me the cheese cloth works great, I just throw it out when I'm done and I didn't have to go online to order it! 

Now comes the really fun part - choosing your seeds! Again, you may not have to go any father than your own pantry (or the nearest grocery store) When I raided my cupboard I found... lentils (green and black), mung beans, quinoa, and fenugreek. 

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Now what?

Clean seeds are happy seeds. Rinse them well. Especially the quinoa - it has higher levels of saponin, which bothers some people more than others. Once your seeds are rinsed:

  • plop them in a jar and cover with water
  • soak 8-12 hours (or less) depending on the seed type
  • drain, rinse, swish around and drain again
  • now let your seed jar drain upside down so that moisture won't collect in the bottom and ruin your sprouts... yuk.
  • repeat the last step about 2-3 times a day or every 8 hours
  • in just a few days, your sprouts will be ready!
  • eat them... or store in the fridge until you're hungry :)

How long you need to soak and then continue the rinse/drain cycle really depends on your seeds. For example, the quinoa seeds don't need to soak at all but others really benefit from a nice long first soak. The best thing is... you don't have to be an expert (I'm certainly not).  Basically your sprouts are ready when you say they are; some people like them when they're just beginning to sprout and others wait until it's practically  a seedling. Questions? The very best resource that I've found is SproutPeople so definitely check them out. They'll show you how to sprout just about anything, anywhere... and they have lots of cool seeds and sprouting gadgets too!