Growing sprouts is a pretty simple process! All you need is seeds, a jar, and a screen. In as little as 5 days you will have fresh sprouts!
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Growing sprouts is something we have done on and off for many years. We now have our own little indoor garden growing in a glass jar on our kitchen counter. We use sprouts almost every day and love eating them on avocado toast or adding to salads. Broccoli sprouts are our favorite sprouts to grow.
Sprouts are also a great supplement of fresh produce in the dark wintertime when there is not much coming from the garden. They also help me as a gardener to have a little something to be growing in the wintertime!
Benefits of Growing Sprouts at Home
- Sprouts are super easy, cheap, and fast to grow
- Don’t require a lot of space or equipment
- Sprouts are very low in calories and fat but are packed with a lot of fiber, nutrients, and vitamins.
- They are high in both vitamins K and C and also have good levels of folate, manganese, copper, phosphorus, magnesium, riboflavin, zinc, iron, thiamine, and Vitamin A.
- Broccoli Sprouts (my favorite sprout to grow) contain sulforaphane- which according to Dr. Michael Greger in his “How Not to Die” books says that sulforaphane is cancer-fighting and may also help protect your brain and eyesight and many other health benefits.
Are Sprouts Safe to Eat?
An added benefit of growing sprouts at home is food safety. Because sprouts require a warm moist environment to grow and are usually eaten raw or only lightly cooked they are breeding grounds for food-borne illnesses. There have been close to 30 outbreaks of E. Coli or salmonella in the US since 1996 tied to commercially grown sprouts.
We never buy sprouts from the store. We prefer to grow sprouts at home in a mason jar. Growing them at home in a clean environment greatly reduces your risks! You are the one in charge of making sure that the jar and lid are clean and that you are properly rinsing and storing the sprouts.
However, we highly recommend avoiding alfalfa sprouts. According to Dr. Michael Greger in his book, “How Not To Die,” alfalfa seeds have too many “crooks and crannies where bacteria can hide.” There are plenty of other seeds to sprout that are just as good so don’t risk getting sick and just don’t grow them.
Supplies for Growing Sprouts at Home
There are not really very many supplies you will need which is why growing sprouts is so easy and inexpensive to do. You only will need four things a jar, a screen, and the seeds.
A clear canning jar with a screw-on lid is the best option. Other jars will work well too, but canning jars seem to be the most convenient. Start out each growing session with a clean jar, preferably washed in a dishwasher and then sterilized with boiling water.
When we first started out growing sprouts we just used a piece of cheesecloth screwed in under the band of the mason jar, or even just attached to the jar with a rubber band. But then we discovered these fantastic sprouting lids. They are so much more convenient and much easier to use! The screen just screws onto a wide-mouth mason jar and works perfectly!
Our experience over the past few years of having some sprouts constantly growing on our countertop is that the stainless steel mesh screen lids work better. They allow for more airflow than the plastic mesh lids, this helps keep the sprouts fresh and keeps them from spoiling before they are fully grown.
3. Sprouting Jar Stand
A sprouting jar stand is super important to have for the drainage of seeds. When we first started out sprouting our own seeds at home we would just put the mason jar in a bowl and it just didn’t drain the seeds well. Since we got these stands it works so well.
4. Seeds-Do I need specific sprouting seeds?
When choosing seeds for growing sprouts be sure to buy seeds that are specifically meant for sprouting. Don’t use seeds meant for farm or garden growing as they could be treated with chemicals and fungicides. Choosing an organic option will also help you avoid GMO seeds.
Where do you find sprouting seeds?
- You should be able to find sprouting seeds at most health food stores
- If you are lucky like us and have “progressive” grocery stores, they may carry them in the bulk food section.
- Natural Grocers and Whole Foods
- True Leaf Market– this is our favorite place to get our seeds!
Types of seeds you can sprout
- Mung Bean
- Green Pea
- Garbanzo Bean
- Dun Pea
- Sunflower Seeds
How to Store Sprouting Seeds
- Store your seeds in your fridge and they will last for over a year.
- Store seeds in your freezer and they will last even longer.
Start Growing Sprouts with a Kit
A great way to get started growing sprouts is by purchasing a starter kit! True Leaf Market is our Favorite place to buy sprouting supplies and they have some great starter kits! Our favorite is their broccoli sprouts kits. These kits come with everything you need to get started growing sprouts, a lid with a screen, a stand, a nice-sized package of seeds, and a very good booklet on how to grow sprouts that include over 3 dozen different seed types.
You can buy this broccoli sprouting kit 2 ways, with or without a jar. If you have plenty of mason jars at home then choose the kit without a jar.
Here are links to both kits:
Broccoli Sprouts Kit without Jar
6 Steps for Growing Sprouts
Step 1: Clean the Seeds
The first step in growing sprouts is to clean your seeds. Measure 1 tablespoon of seeds and put them in a bowl. Check for any foreign debris like sticks, twigs, or rocks. This type of debris is usually what causes foodborne diseases. Once you have removed this, rinse the seeds, let them sit for a few minutes, and then drain.
Step 2: Add the Seeds to Your Clean Jar and Soak
Next, transfer the seeds to your clean (sterilized) mason jar and fill the jar about 1/3 full with water. There is some discussion out there about what type of water you should use. Many experts recommend using filtered or even distilled water. The thinking behind that is that chlorinated water (city water) may inhibit sprouting. However, I have never used anything but tap water when growing sprouts and we have done dozens of successful batches over the years and never had a problem.
Let the seeds soak for 12 hours in the jar (overnight). Once they have soaked for 12 hours drain the water off through the screen. Try to get as much water out of the jar as possible. Then give the jar a good shake to spread the seeds around.
Step 3: Rinse and Drain for 3 Days
Now for the next 2 or 3 days, you want to add cool water to the jar to rinse the seeds every 8 to 12 hours (2 or 3 times a day). Once you have rinsed the seeds try hard to get all the excess water out and then give the jar a shake. It is okay if the seeds are sticking all over the sides of the jar. In fact, you want to avoid a big clump of seeds in the jar, get them to spread out as much as you can.
For the first 3 days store the jar in a dark corner of your kitchen away from both direct and indirect sunlight. Store the jar on its side or even slightly elevated towards the lid so any excess water drains off.
You should start to see the seeds sprouting in around 24 hours (depending on how warm it is). After about 3 days the sprouts should be growing nicely and (again depending on how warm it is) you should start to see green leaves emerge on the sprouts.
Don’t forget to rinse and drain the seeds at least 2 times per day during this time.
Step 4: Move Your Jar into Indirect Light
Once most of the sprouts have green leaves on them, the next step in growing sprouts is to move the jar to a spot with INDIRECT sunlight. Look for a spot close to a window, but out of the direct sun. Indirect sunlight on days 4 and 5 will really start to “green up” your sprouts.
Exposure to direct sunlight will cause the sprouts to grow too large and possibly be bitter. So keep the jar out of the sun, but close to it. During this time you continue to rinse and drain the seeds twice a day, taking care to drain out as much water as possible.
Step 5: De-husk the Growing Sprouts and Do a Final Rinse-(Optional)
On roughly day 6 your sprouts should be just about done. De-husking the sprouts is a step that isn’t 100% necessary, but instead is more to make the sprouts more “visually pleasing”. We often skip this step.
To de-husk you simply remove the growing sprouts from their jar and submerge them in a bowl of water. Carefully separate the sprouts and loosen up the large clumps. Then swish the sprouts around in the water. Most of the “husks” from the seeds should float to the top of the water and any ungerminated seeds will sink to the bottom. Simply skim off the husks using a spoon (or even your jar screen).
Then carefully remove the sprouts from the water and return them to their jar. Rinse and drain one more time and allow them to sit in indirect light for another 12 or so hours. This will give the growing sprouts a little more time for a final bit of growth. You also want the sprouts to dry out well. You have to be careful here, you don’t want them to dry completely, but dry sprouts will store a lot longer.
Step 6: Remove the growing sprouts from the Jar and Enjoy!
Once your sprouts are done remove them from the jar and enjoy! We love to add sprouts to salads, sandwiches, soups, smoothies, and even as a topping on many vegetable-based dishes! They have a great crunch and a nice “zingy” taste and flavor!
If you are not going to use all of your sprouts right away they can be stored in a plastic bag or some type of sealable container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. But we have found they are the best quality if you eat them in 3 or 4 days.
Well, there you have it! That’s how to grow sprouts at home in 6 easy steps. Keep in mind that the 6-day time frame is not set in stone. Sprouts can be ready in as little as 5 days in warmer weather, so keep a close eye on them.
I’d love to hear about your success at growing sprouts. Please leave me some comments below on how it went and also leave us your ideas on how you use your sprouts!
Karen A Colley
thank you so much-you explained everything so well- we are just starting to do (grow) sprouts- your article helped us to understand- we have some green beans and cucumber seeds started (just some seeds we had in the kitchen drawer)- after reading your suggestions, we have ordered a (high grass) special lid from Swanson’s and some special Mongo seeds- we look forward to getting sprouts- thank you again.
I have a question about the water used to rinse seeds for sprouting in a jar (or on a tray)
Can softened water be safely used and is the ph of the water very important given the short sprouting time? My house water is moderately hard so I use a water softener and the ph tests slightly alkaline at 7.5
I’m afraid I’m not nearly that technical to be able to answer your question. We just use tap water without a softener. But these are used in such an early stage that I doubt PH would come into play at all.
Karen A Colley
Hello- as a follow up;- we have followed your instructions & thank you again! – GOOD NEWS all is going well and today is day 7, we will have tasty fresh sprouts over a salad tonight. We just wanted to let you know that we added a step to the process, (we have used a light peroxide rinse for 30 years in our gardening, cleaning pots and sometimes just to give a spray zip to a plant), so we decided to add a teaspoon of peroxide to the jar rinse on the first day and again day 6- the sprouts filled the jar and we have pretty green leaves– we are very pleased.
Any suggestions to keep my sprouts from all clumping in the middle of the jar? I try my best to rotate the jar so the seeds are well distributed, but once they sprout I often wind up with a big clump that’s green on the outside, but all the sprouts in the middle are pale.
I have the same problem. The only thing that seems to help is if very early on before the seeds have sprouted you keep them spread out in the jar.