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Sprout Your Own Superfoods in 7 Simple Steps


We’re celebrating our exciting Food52 Green Sprout Kit launch this week with a quick review of all the reasons we love these superfoods.  Sprouts are just your everyday seeds, beans or grains taken to the next level in term s of nutrition and deliciousness just by soaking, rinsing and allowing a few days to germinate (sprout) before eating.   While you can find many sprout varieties at most health food stores, growing them yourself is fun, easy and much less expensive.

Sprouts abound with antioxidants; they’re full of protein, chlorophyll, vitamins, minerals and amino acids. And talk about good for you:  ounce for ounce they provide more nutrients than any other whole food known.  Sprouts also contain beneficial enzymes, requiring less digestive energy so they actually invigorate you while your body processes them.

Your home grown sprouts are up to the minute fresh (they grow until ready to eat) and delicious.  Grow them right in your kitchen using just seeds, jars and screens, here’s how!

Getting Started

Beginner Varieties

Any seed, bean or grain is sproutable, but some take a bit more know-how.  Easy and tasty seed choices are alfalfa, mustard, radish and clover.  Or start with legumes!  Lentils, mung beans, garbanzos and green peas are all good choices to start with.

Sprouting Seed and Bean Selection

Choose your seeds base on taste preference.  If you like the small spouts like alfalfa, which are often used in salads, sandwiches and spring rolls, start with seeds.  If you prefer legumes (beans, lentils, peas), which make a killer stir fry, hearty salad or wonderful soup, start there.  Sprouted legumes require much less cooking time than dried and are also more tender.

The legumes you use should be “seed quality”, which are generally recommended for sprouting, as compared to “food quality”, which are intended for cooking.  Seed quality legumes are cultivated for sprouting, while food quality are meant for cooking in their dry, unsprouted state, and tend to have a lower germination rate.

Fortunately it’s becoming easier to find seeds, beans, and grains specifically grown for sprouting. These can be found in most health-food stores, often right in the bulk bins or specialty shops, and are also available online.  Once you have your seeds in hand, store them in airtight containers until you’re ready to use them, glass jars work well for this purpose

Setting Up

Growing Supplies

  • Wide mouthed mason 1 – 1.5 quart mason jar with 2 part lid.
  • Stainless steel screen or fiberglass mesh to cover the mouth of the jar
  • Sprouting bag or towel to cover your sprouting jar
  • Dish rack or flat shallow containers for the jars to drain into.

Finding Space

During the germination process sprouts, like most seeds, prefer a dark, temperate (60-85°) location away from drafts and direct heat.   You can sprout right on your kitchen counter by just covering your jar with a sprouting bar or towel to keep the light out.

Sprout Your Own Superfoods in 7 Simple Steps

1. Measure out your seeds or beans.  In general 1 oz. of seed yields about 1 cup of spouts, so ¼ cup (for a 2 cup yield), seems to be a good starting point for small seed sprouts since they have a short shelf life.  Soaked beans and legumes expand to 3-4 times when sprouted, so plan accordingly.

2. Place seeds in a mesh strainer or in your spouting jar and rinse tap water water, then drain.

If you used a strainer for rinsing, pour seeds or legumes into your mason jar.  Fill the jar ¾ with water, cap with mesh screen and lid and let soak overnight (if prepared in the evening) or for the following times:

  • Small seeds 3-8 hours
  • Larger seeds or legumes 8-16 hours
  • Grains 8-16 hours

3. After soaking, drain the water and rinse the seeds thoroughly.  The soaking water is said to contain natural toxins released from the seeds during germination, so a 2-3 time daily rinse is recommended.

4. After each rinse, place the jar upside down and tilted at a 45° angle in the spot you’ve selected and cover with a sprouting bag or towel.  The goal is to keep them damp but not soaking in water until they sprout.  The warmer and darker the location, the faster they’ll sprout.

5. Let the spouts germinate for the suggested number of days (see chart below). Sprout most seeds 1-2’, grains up to 4’, and beans ¼ to 1”.  You may want to very growth time depending on plans for use.  Shorter sprouts are great for eating whole, you’ll want then longer if you plan to juice.

6. Small seed optional (skip this step for legumes).  Once seeds have sprouted, place the jar in strong, indirect sunlight for the 2 – 3 days after to develop some nutrient-rich chlorophyll.

7. When the jar is full and the sprouts or legumes are ready to use, store in with the sprouting cap intact in the refrigerator for use within 3-5 days.  Be sure the sprouts are not stored in airtight containers and  have drained for at least 5 hours before storing, too much moisture can cause spoilage.

  • Small seeds 4-6 days
  • Larger seeds or legumes 3-5 days
  • Grains 3-5 days

It is recommended that small seeds be hulled, as in shells of the seeds removed, before placing in the refrigerator.  It’s easy to do by soaking in a large bowl of water where hulls will float to the top for easy removal.

Once you get the hang of it, sprouting can be rather addictive.  It’s amazing to watch a tiny volume of seeds grow into a jar full of fresh, antioxidant-packed sprouts in a few days.   You’ll find new ways to enjoy sprouts just so you have an excuse to keep them growing.   Sign up to receive delicious recipe ideas at

One Response to “Sprout Your Own Superfoods in 7 Simple Steps”

  1. […] Your home grown sprouts are up to the minute fresh (they grow until ready to eat) and delicious.  Grow them right in your kitchen using just seeds, jars and screens, here’s how! […]

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