Growing your own sprouts at home is a reward all on its own. Learn everything you need to know about sprouting these nutrient-rich shoots right on your kitchen counter!
Believe it or not, sprouts used to be a treat for me.
I grew up in a small town, so finding alfalfa sprouts in the local grocery stores wasn’t an easy task.
I always appreciated them when my mom was able to get her hands on a little plastic container, but I never really gave them much thought.
When I was living near Montreal’s Jean-Talon Market (a magical place) sprouts became a regular thing, but I wish I had known then just how simple it really is to grow your own…
HOW TO GROW YOUR OWN SPROUTS: A VIDEO
Welcome to the Kitchen! Here’s a video where I talk all about how to grow your own sprouts at home. If you like what you see, be sure to check out my YouTube channel for self-sufficiency tips, recipes, and more!
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WHAT ARE SPROUTS?
When you grow your own sprouts, you’re essentially starting out with a seed, grain, or legume.
Depending on what you’re trying to sprout, you normally soak them, but some seeds are more delicate than others.
Curly watercress and chia seeds, for example, will gel if they get more than a spritz of water.
When soaked seeds are drained and left alone, the seed germinates and a tiny plant starts growing.
This tiny plant is called a sprout, and not only is it delicious, but it’s nutritious, too!
IT’S ALL ABOUT THAT CRUNCH FACTOR
In my house, the term “crunch factor” is thrown around a lot, and mostly by my husband, Big Papa. If he ever reads this, he will be tickled pink to know that I’m acknowledging one of his favourite expressions.
For a man who doesn’t care much for things that are green (at least, that’s what he says) he does have a fondness for sprouts, and it’s all because of that crunch factor.
They’re not crunchy like an apple or anything, but they have more bite than lettuce. When you try piling them onto a sandwich, you’ll see what I mean!
WHERE CAN I BUY SPROUTING SEEDS?
You can buy almost anything on Amazon, and that includes sprouting seeds, but since sprouting seeds aren’t their niche, they can be a bit pricey and it’s hard to vouch for their freshness.
If you’re looking to buy online, I’d have to go with True Leaf Market.
True Leaf’s whole business is centred on seeds and their selection is fabulous. I also love that you can buy seeds in bulk (we’re talking up to 30 pounds of seeds, here) and that all of their products are gmo-free.
The other route you can go (which is the one I usually take) is hitting up the local health food store.
The selection is usually basic and you can’t buy in bulk, but you’d be surprised what you can find!
WHAT DO I NEED TO GROW MY OWN SPROUTS?
Fortunately, you don’t need much to get started with sprouting.
I personally like using a tray system at home because I can get more variety without sacrificing any counter real estate.
The only other thing you need is water!
POPULAR SPROUT OPTIONS
Alfalfa Sprouts: I almost always include alfalfa sprouts in my rotation. They seem to be the most popular of all the sprouts and are the easiest to find in-store. They’re fresh, mild, and crunchy. What’s not to love? You can order them (and other sprouting seeds) at an affordable price through True Leaf Market. They have an incredible selection.
Red Clover Sprouts: These bear a striking similarity to alfalfa sprouts, but I like switching it up and trying to notice the difference.
Fenugreek Sprouts: To my surprise, fenugreek seeds aren’t seeds at all, but legumes! They have a spicy fragrance to them and often appear in my rotation.
Sunflower Sprouts: These take longer than the other sprouts to grow as they need close to two weeks. They also require more maintenance once they’re ready to enjoy. If it hasn’t popped off, the shell needs to be removed, and the root needs to be twisted off. If you ever see them for sale at a market, you’ll know why they’re on the pricey side!
GROW YOUR OWN SPROUTS TO REDUCE WASTE
Unless you grow your own food (and not many folks do), growing your own sprouts at home helps to reduce waste if you sub them out for packaged greens.
I’m not saying that sprouts can or should replace lettuce, spinach or arugula, but those convenient boxes (and bags) of greens aren’t great for the environment, and that’s why we buy them, right? For convenience.
When you’re making a sandwich, you can grab a handful of greens from the container and call it a lunch, so keep doing that, but with your own sprouts instead.
WHAT CAN YOU DO WITH SPROUTS?
What can’t you do? Here, let me give you some ideas:
Add them to salads, sandwiches and wraps. One of my favourite salads involves a pint of cherry tomatoes, sprouts, lemon juice and salt and pepper. It's pure simplicity, but it taste incredible and makes me feel even better.
Serve them on top of an omelette or creamy scrambled eggs for that crunch factor.
Toss them in smoothies.
Use them as a finishing touch on soups.
Sneak them into an egg salad or tuna salad to ramp up their nutritional profiles.
Include them in Buddha Bowls.
Add them to sushi hand rolls or spring rolls.
Mix sprouts into your stir fries.
HOW TO GROW YOUR OWN SPROUTS
It’s really very simple to grow your own sprouts. Let’s walk through the process together.
1) Measure your seeds. In my tray system, I typically use a teaspoon per tray for seeds like alfalfa and red clover. For fenugreek-sized seeds or legumes, I use 2 teaspoons, and for sunflower seeds, I use 4 teaspoons.
2) Soak your seeds. Sunflower seeds benefit from a 12-hour soak time, and smaller seeds like alfalfa are happy with 8 hours or less. I usually put them to soak before going to bed.
3) Transfer the seeds to your tray or jar and drain the water.
4) Pour in around two cups of cool water and drain. Do this twice a day.
5)Keep your sprouts in a well lit place (they’re plants, after all–they don’t do well in the dark!)
6) When you’re happy with the size of your sprouts, dehull the seeds by rinsing them in water (check out my video below to see how I do it).
7) Roll them up in a clean dishtowel to dry and keep refrigerated. I like storing my sprouts in berry containers lined with paper towel.
BEST PRACTICES TO KEEP IN MIND
Sprouts are happiest when kept at an optimal temperature between 65-78ºF (18-26ºC).
Sprouts need good air circulation, so don't stash them away in a cupboard.
Sprouts need light. They're plants, after all!
You can "green" your sprouts by putting them in direct sunlight. This gives an extra boost of chlorophyll.
A WORD OF CAUTION
When I was pregnant, I wasn’t allowed to eat sprouts.
Due to the humid growing conditions, it’s possible that harmful bacteria may find their way to your beautiful sprouts which may also lead to food poisoning.
As long as you follow these best practices, sprouts will only add to your vibrancy:
Wash your hands before handling the sprouts.
Wash the jar, screen, and/or tray system with hot soapy water after each use.
If the sprouts are slimy and limp, don't eat them.
Don’t let the word of caution scare you.
Sprouts are awesome and their health benefits far outweigh the risk!
START GROWING YOUR OWN SPROUTS!
Have you ever grown your own sprouts at home?
What are your favourites?
How do you use them?
If you have any questions, let me know in the comments below. I’m here to help!
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True Leaf Market (they have everything you need to get you started in your sprouting journey)
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