Starting Your Own Sprouts At Home

How to Grow Sprouts at Home
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Starting your own sprouts at home is easy and fun.  It can put a smile on your face, especially in the winter, because something fresh and green is growing!   Sprouts are great to add to salads and sandwiches and will give your diet a nutritional boost.

Often when we think of sprouts we think of alfalfa sprouts or even mung bean sprouts, but there’s a whole other world of seeds to sprout for eating outside of those two favorites.  How about radish sprouts?  Those are my personal favorite because they add some unexpected heat. Your tongue will wonder what in the heck just happened to a seemingly ordinary tossed salad with sprouts.

Wheat sprouts, on the other hand, are soft and sweet.  Whenever I eat them, I think “Oh, that’s nice.  Eating these feels right.”  Wheat has that power over me.

Another of my favorites is lentil sprouts.  Lentils have a slight peppery flavor and aside from enjoying them as sprouts I really enjoy them in lentil soups and lentil salads.  They are such a great little legume!

How to Grow Sprouts at HomeSprouting seeds can be purchased alone or in mixes.  My favorite mix includes alfalfa, clover, radish, and cabbage.  It’s like eating a garden.

Check your local health food stores for sprouting seeds.  If none are available, then use the internet.  One of the sites that I have found particularly helpful with information about sprouting is Sprout People.  In addition to lots of how-to information, they also offer seeds and a few other items for sprouting.  Check them out on You Tube as well.

How to Grow Sprouts at HomeDespite the fact that there are gadgets available for sprouting, the only equipment you need is a jar, a piece of cheese cloth, and a rubber band.  That’s it.  Plus some sprouting seeds and regular old tap water.  In only four days you can have a quart jar full of sprouts from only 2 tablespoonsful of seeds.  So amazing!

DO NOT get sprouting seeds confused with seeds that you buy for growing your vegetable garden. Generally vegetable garden seeds are not appropriate for sprouting.

Here are the big How-To’s for growing your own sprouts.  This is the uber easy method; nothing but a glass jar, cheesecloth, and a rubber band are needed…in addition to the sprouting seeds, of course, and some water.

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Day 1

How to Grow Sprouts at Home
This is a seed mixture of radish, alfalfa, cabbage and clover seeds.

Start by soaking about 2 tablespoonsful of sprouting seeds.  The seeds can be soaked in a bowl or in a jar.  I chose to soak my seeds in bowls this time because, well, its just what I did.  I changed my mind the next morning and realized that I ought to have started some in the glass jar(s) that I would be using for this post.  Sometimes my brain lags a little behind my enthusiasm.

If you are sprouting small seeds such as alfalfa, broccoli, clover, radish, etc., use about 2 tablespoonsful of seeds.  On the other hand, if you are growing bean seeds or lentils, use about 1/4 cup.  Put the seeds in the container of your choice.  Add enough tepid water (barely warm) to the seeds to cover them by 2-inches.  Soak for 8-12 hours.  Don’t worry if some of them float.  Poke them with your finger to encourage them to sink to the bottom of the bowl.  There will be those who will be stubborn and insist on floating.  Forget about them and walk away.

How to Grow Sprouts at Home
After 8-12 hours, the seeds will have soaked up a lot of water and some of them will get so excited that they will have already started to sprout.  Look at that white seed a little off center and slightly up to your right.  That’s a radish seed and it has already started to sprout.  Radishes and rabbits have a lot in common…they’re both super excited about fulfilling the measure of their creation.
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How to Grow Sprouts at Home
If you have started your seeds in a bowl or other container, move them to a quart jar.  I use canning jars, but any jar will work.
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How to Grow Sprouts at Home
After you have poured the seeds and water into a jar, the water will look rather murky.   You’ll be taking care of that in just a minute.
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How to Grow Sprouts at Home
Cut a section of cheese cloth large enough to cover the jar opening with extra to hang down over the opening.  Cheese cloth can be found in most grocery stores in the kitchen utensil section.
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How to Grow Sprouts at Home
Put the cheese cloth over the opening of the jar and place a rubber band snugly around the top of the jar to hold the cheese cloth in place.
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How to Grow Sprouts at Home
Pour off the soaking water.
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How to Grow Sprouts at Home
Hold the jar underneath a running faucet.  The water temperature should be tepid.  Cold water retards growth and hot water will kill the seeds.  Not sure you’d really want the hot water option; a bit counter productive.
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How to Grow Sprouts at Home
Move the jar in a circular motion so that the seeds swirl in the water.  This will help to rinse off the toxins that naturally form during the sprouting process.  That’s a rather scary word…toxins…don’t get too worked up over it.
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How to Grow Sprouts at Home
Pour off the water.  Now repeat the filling, swishing, pouring process once more.  It is IMPORTANT to drain off as much water as possible after the final rinse.  Seeds that are left to soak in too much water will likely rot.  If you are concerned that there is too much water remaining in the jar, simply set the jar with the open end down in a shallow bowl so that any excess water will drain off into the bowl.
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How to Grow Sprouts at Home
Setting the jar on its side is my preferred way of letting the sprouts grow.  It gives them plenty of growing space.  Which reminds me, leave the cheesecloth in place.  It allows air to pass in and out of the jar, which is important for good sprout development.
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The rinsing and draining process should be done morning and night.  That’s twice a day.  Rinse and drain in the AM; repeat in the PM.  Got it?  Very important.
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//Day 2

How to Grow Sprouts at Home
Can you believe this?  After only 1 day in the jar and the sprouts are well on their way.  Those little white tails are the tap roots.  They are the first things to appear.  There’s lots of metaphorical wisdom in this picture.  Also, if you look closely, you will see that some of the sprouts are beginning to send out leaves…those would be the radishes, of course. Radishes and rabbits–fast reproducers.
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Remember the rinsing and draining that we did on Day 1?  Do the same thing on Day 2.  Rinse and drain twice in the morning and twice in the evening.  Important, important, important.  The rinsing and draining is a must do.
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Day 3

How to Grow Sprouts at Home
This is getting really exciting.  Everybody in the jar is so happy.  Look how much they have grown!  The roots are even longer and there are leaves sprouting everywhere.  If there have been seeds resting at the top of the jar you may notice that they have sent roots through the holes in the cheesecloth!
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After you get through staring at the wonder of it all, remember to rinse and drain morning and night.  The rinsing and draining is getting a little trickier because the sprouts are taking up so much room in the jar. 
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/Day 4

How to Grow Sprouts at Home
Congratulations!  It’s a sprout!  No more rinsing.  No more draining.  Put a lid on the jar and stick the sprouts in the refrigerator.  IF you have gotten into the habit of rinsing and draining and you accidentally rinse and drain the sprouts at this stage its okay.  However, you will need to leave them to drain for 12 hours before covering the jar with a lid and putting them in refrigerator.  You want the sprouts to be relatively dry to the touch before storing them.
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Side Notes
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If your sprouts are yellow, no problem. Leave them in full light and they will green up easily within an hour or two. Room light is sufficient or in a bright window.  Just cover them with a piece of clear plastic wrap to keep them from drying out.  I don’t put my sprouts in direct sunlight because sometimes I sort of forget about them and they get parched. That’s a sad ending to a four day adventure in life.
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How to Grow Sprouts at Home
These sprouts are yellow because they have not been exposed to light.

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How to Grow Sprouts at Home
After a couple of hours in the light, the chlorophyll in the leaves has given the sprouts a beautiful green color
…and in some cases purple.

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How to Grow Sprouts at Home
Sometimes I also use special sprouting trays for my sprouts.  These trays have holes in the bottom for drainage and air circulation…and unfortunately for root growth, too.  It is such a bother when the roots grow through the holes because it makes it tedious to get the larger rooted sprouts, such as bean sprouts, out of the holes.  Usually the roots break off and get stuck and then I have to do extra cleaning to remove them.  grrrr.
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How to Grow Sprouts at Home
These particular trays come with a divider so that two different types of sprouts can be grown at the same time.

 

How to Grow Sprouts at Home
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You may also like:

Lentil Soup
Lentil Soup
Lentil, Quinoa and Orzo Salad
Lentil, Quinoa and Orzo Salad
Tuscan Bean Salad
Tuscan Bean Salad

 

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