Sprouts, the tasty, crunchy garnish of many a sandwich, salad or stir-fry, are not only bright and refreshing, they’re also nutritional super foods, bursting with vitamins, minerals, protein, fiber, and enzymes that are all kicked into turbo gear during the sprouting process.
Sprouts are not only higher in nutrients than their matured counterparts, but they are also easier to digest and incredibly cheap and easy to make from seeds, grains, and legumes that you may already have on hand. And what’s even better: you can reap the benefits of your sprout harvest in as quickly as three days, and they can be grown any time of year – even in gloomy winter.
Making fresh sprouts at home is so easy that there is absolutely no reason to buy a bag of slimy sprouts with zero shelf-life from the grocery store. Follow these simple instructions, and you’ll be harvesting your own fresh sprouts in no time!
The sprouting process for most seeds, grains, and legumes is essentially the same. Each requires the same basic steps: soak, rinse, drain, repeat. To demonstrate how easy it is to make your own sprouts, we’ll go through the process with both a seed sprout (in this case, alfalfa), and a legume sprout (lentils).
- a glass 24 oz. Ball-type canning jar with a lid
- Cheese cloth or a sprouting mesh top (available in health food stores and online)
- Sprouting seeds (available online, at health food stores, and at Whole Foods)
- A clean kitchen towel
Put two tablespoons of sprouts in the Ball jar, fill with water, and put in the cupboard overnight.
The next morning, drain the water from the sprout seeds, rinse them with fresh, cool water, and drain them.
Next, you want to let the jar rest at a slight angle tilting top down (this allows them to continue draining), and covered with a towel to keep out direct light. We usually make a pillow for the back end of the bottle by folding the end of the towel underneath it. Leave this covered, on the counter or fridge, or somewhere else out of the way but not too out of the way that you forget about them.
Rinse and repeat roughly every six to eight hours for about three days, until sprout tails are about an inch long.
Now the sprouts are ready to set in a sunny window for a few hours to develop chlorophyll. When the little sprout leaves look green, they are ready to eat! If you don’t eat them all right away on a giant pita sandwich with thick slices of avocado then seed sprouts will usually keep in the fridge (in the same jar you sprouted them in) for 7-10 days.
The main difference between seed sprouts and legume sprouts is that legumes create much more bulk. Therefore, they need more space to sprout in.
- A large bowl, and a large fine mesh colander.
- A clean kitchen towel
- Any kind of legume: lentils, white beans, mung beans, etc., rinsed well.
Let’s start with about a cup of legumes. Put them in the bowl, fill the bowl with water, and either cover it with a towel or put it in a dark cupboard overnight.
The next morning, drain the legumes into the colander and rinse them well with cool water, running your fingers through and around the legumes to make sure they are thoroughly rinsed (also, it feels cool).
Put the colander over the bowl so the legumes can continue draining, and cover them with a kitchen towel, keeping them in a dark but conspicuous place.
As with the seed sprouts, rinse the legumes with cool water every 6-8 hours or so, drain thoroughly, and then cover ‘em back up and store away from direct light.
Continue until your legumes have sprouted tails about an inch long. Heads up: they will have pretty much quadrupled in bulk. Luckily, they keep well in the fridge, in an airtight container, for about two weeks.
Use sprouted legumes by themselves, in salads, stir-fries, or soups (like this recipe for sprouted lemony lentil soup).