How to Sprout Seeds for Inexpensive & Tasty Nutrition

Sprouting seeds is a way of adding extremely nutritious phytonutrients to one's diet without great difficulty, expense, or space necessary.

1. Start with a jar, such as a canning jar (or reuse a glass jar such as a pasta sauce jar).

2. Add a screened lid. If you have a standard canning jar, you can purchase or make a simple screen to fit under the screw-on lid (your local natural foods store may have the screen lid that fits standard mason jars).

For reused glass jars, retain the original lid, and drill out or otherwise remove the center so that you have a circular opening and only a small rim. If you have a small rotating tool, this should work for both cutting out the lid's center while it is clamped in place with a vise or clamps, as well as smoothing away sharp edges with a sanding or grinding tip.

3. Purchase seeds. Seeds, preferably organic, are usually available in the bulk herbs or bulk grocery areas of natural food stores or may be ordered in quantity online. They keep for a long time, particularly if frozen until needed.

Organic seeds are preferable as conventional seeds may be treated with fungicides or retain other chemicals from their parent plants. (Expect to spend less than $10 in most cases for several weeks' worth of sprouting seeds.)

  • Wheat berries - delightful, slightly sweet sprouts that, if planted, supply wheatgrass.
  • Alfalfa seeds - mellow fresh green taste that might be described as slightly sweet, slightly bitter.
  • Radish seeds - sharp bite to these sprouts makes them a good addition to mild salads or in sprout mix.
  • Mung beans - high in a well-tolerated protein; mild starchy taste that compliments many salads; thicker sprout.
  • Adzuki beans - high in protein with a nutty sharp taste; thicker sprout.
  • Broccoli seeds - difficult to find and reputedly harder to sprout, however very delicious mild flavor akin to alfalfa.
  • Spelt berries - similar to wheat in appearance and taste -- only a bit nuttier and perhaps more mellow.
  • Flaxseeds (golden or brown) - can be sprouted in spite of waxy coating; beneficial fats, protein, and delicious.

4. Add seeds to jar (barely cover jar's bottom) and soak overnight. Be sure to keep seeds separate, as most have different optimal sprouting conditions and times.

5. Rinse separate seeds at least twice per day. All seeds, and particularly the wheat, spelt, and flaxseeds, are susceptible to mold if not rinsed properly and frequently (2 - 6 times per day). To rinse, fill jar 1/3 full, cover, and gently swirl or shake. Drain through screened top, taking care to keep screen from being covered more than a third by seeds or sprouted seeds.

Store in a dark, cool place. Keep jars tilted with screened tops facing down, so that the bottom of the jar is tilted upwards and to one side slightly, with a dish or pan beneath to catch runoff moisture.

Note: Moisture should be allowed to leave the jar and fresh air to circulate, therefore the screen must be kept unblocked and drainage ensured.

6. Allow time. Sprouting times vary for all seeds, however most are ready within 3 to 5 days. Two tiny leaves will appear for each of the sprouting types, at which point they should be ready.

Refrigeration at this point preserves them: preferably sprouts should be transferred to a non-airtight but moisture-conserving container, similar to the conditions that mushrooms are ideally kept at, and used within two or three days.

Mold at any stage is possible, but less likely if proper rinsing and speedy consumption are the rule.

7. Experiment with rinsing schedules, sprouting conditions, and new seeds/beans. Be willing and uncritical to experience failures (mold, lack of sprouting); simply begin a new batch in a thoroughly clean / steamed jar and try something slightly different. Keep a log or journal to note what works!

Quirky tip: Sprouts always have at least one root as well as top growth (leaves, etc.). If no root is present, it is not properly called a sprout!