Sprouts are a delicious way to balance nutrition with fresh greens. They are powerhouses of concentrated nutritional goodness packed into a few crisp bites. Seeds and beans release enzymes when germinating which, when eaten, are much easier for the digestive system to break down. We all want to have a healthy diet with fresh sprouts but the clump of sprouts sold in supermarkets are just too much for one person and sometimes it’s shelf life is questionable. The answer is to make your own.
The supplies are simple to gather. A jar, a screen and an attacher, water and some seeds or beans are all you need to get this project going. This is an indoor activity. The temperature needs to be between 65-80 degrees F. Keeping the temperature warm and consistent is key to a good sprout. It is also the reason that commercially grown sprouts can get salmonella. It is VERY important to rinse your seeds gently but often to be sure that the warmth does not become a medium for growing bacteria. The home kitchen has the advantage of taking a freshly grown product from seed to sprout in a few days and placed directly in the refrigerator without shipping issues. Safety first.
This is a great project for children as they learn about botany, nutrition and get to enjoy a treat of their own making. Kids are more likely to try new food if they are involved in the process. Line up a few jars of different sizes with different types of seeds and beans on them. Mark the jars with the dates and types of seeds that are in them. Let the children taste the difference between the sprouts. They can learn about seed parts and seed life cycles in an experience they won’t forget.
This is also fabulous for superfood fans. It is available year round and can be varied according to whim. Athletes can toss larger sprouts from mung beans, lentils, radishes or wheat berries into their smoothies for powerful nutritional boosts. Smaller seed sprouts are easy to toss into salads, sandwiches and wraps. Don’t forget the traditional use of sprouts – stir fries! Bean sprouts have long been the king of texture in a stir fry, adding that needed crunch to a flavorful meal.
In this DIY, I used a one quart mason jar. Smaller or larger jars can be used. I also used a stainless steel mesh lid that I got 30 years ago. It is in fine shape all these years later. You can use whatever jar or screen you want. Cheesecloth and rubber band is fine as substitute. Just make sure everything is sterilized.
NOTE: If you are sprouting larger amounts of sprouts than will fit comfortably in a canning jar when germinate, use the sprout jar for the rinse part of the process and transfer them to a colander with a few layers of paper towel at the bottom so they don’t fall out. As they grow, spritz them with water to keep them moist. This works particularly well for larger items like beans.
- 1 Quart Widemouth Mason jar
- Widemouth Mason jar ring (as an attacher)
- Mesh screen
- Measuring spoons
- Seeds or Beans of choice (see below)
- Colander (if using larger beans)
- Paper towels or thin muslin cloth (if using larger beans)
- Mung Beans
- Wheat berries
- Brown rice
- Micro-green seed mixes
Instructions for Sprouting Seeds
- Sterilize equipment.
- Measure 2 tablespoons of seeds/beans
- Place screen on jar and attach with ring or attach cheesecloth with a rubber band.
- Pour 1 cup of cold water into jar through screen.
- Swish seeds gently.
- Let sit overnight for between 8-12 hours. (Larger beans need 12-16 hours soaking.)
- Keeping the screen on, pour out water and rinse seeds again with cold water.
- Place jar in a dimly lit location out of direct sunlight.
- Repeat step 7 twice a day for 3 or 4 days. Larger beans will need 6 days of rinsing.
- Do not let the seeds or beans dry out. Keep a small amount of water in the jar – just enough to keep them moist.
- If sprouting beans such a kidney beans, take them out the jar when they start to germinate and transfer them to a colander with a few layers of paper towel at the bottom so they don’t fall out. As they grow, spritz them with water to keep them moist.
- Once the seeds/beans are sprouted, store them in the refrigerator so they stay small.
Sprouts will retain freshness in a refrigerator for up to 1 week.