6 easy steps to sprout heaven

by Mark Ridsdill Smith on

in Blog, Featured home page

What can you grow from seed when the days are cold, dark and short? Answer: bean sprouts!

A mix of rose radish, chickpea, pea, mung bean and lentil sprouts

A mix of rose radish, chickpea, pea, mung bean and lentil sprouts

Why sprout?

Sprouts can be grown at any time of year in even the smallest home, and on the smallest budget.  What’s more they’re packed with vitamins and nutrients, good for your health and fighting off those pesky colds that abound in cities in winter.

A huge variety of seeds can easily be grown to eat as sprouts including radish, pea, chick pea, mung beans, alfalfa, fenugreek, sunflower, lentil, and broccoli. Each has its own unique flavour and can be eaten on its own or used to add crunch and flavour to winter salads. You can have fun experimenting.

Fantastic value

You don’t need to buy the small, pricey packets of sprouting seeds either. Many dried pulses like mung beans or chick peas from the supermarket or health food shop will sprout just as well at a fraction of the cost. Or the large 500g bags of seeds for sprouting, sold online, can be very good value, too.

How to make your own sprouter

Sprouters are readily available to buy or its super easy to make your own. You may even find that a sprouter made from a glass jam jar is easier to use and gives you better results than many commercial sprouters. All you need to do is

1. Find a decent sized glass jar, preferably with a lid.

2. Drill small holes in the lid – 3mm is fine  or punch them with a hammer and nail. Or you can dispense with the lid altogether and use some hessian or a piece of old shirt instead, attached with an elastic band (this is also a better option for very small seeds like alfalfa that can fall through the holes of a lid).

Drill approx 3mm (1/12th inch) holes in the lid. In this one I also drilled a couple of large holes (5mm) to drain the water faster - hold the larger holes at the top so that the smaller sprouts do not fall out of them.

Drill approx 3mm (1/12th inch) holes in the lid. In this one I also drilled a couple of large holes (5mm) to drain the water faster – hold the larger holes at the top so that the smaller sprouts do not fall out of them.

That’s it. Your sprouter is finished and ready to go.

How to grow sprouts

1. Put some seeds in the bottom of the jar and cover with water to soak for twelve hours. You can add just one type of seed or a mix of varieties, it’s fun to experiment. The seeds will expand a lot as they grow. Half to one inch (1cm – 2cm) of dried seeds will usually fill a jar. It varies between seeds – radish expand more than sunflowers, for example – you’ll quickly learn as you grow them (and it doesn’t matter if you put too few or many in).

Soaking the seeds for twelve hours helps speed the germination process. The seeds will swell to double their size, too.

Soaking the seeds for twelve hours helps speed the germination process. The seeds will swell to double their size, too.

2. After twelve hours rinse the seeds in water (ideally the water should be at room temperature – not too cold and not too hot), then drain the water out of the holes in the lid, leaving the seeds damp but not swimming in water.

Rinse the sprouts in water and drain. Try to avoid rinsing them in very cold water as this can slow the sprouting process.

Rinse the sprouts in water and drain. Try to avoid rinsing them in very cold water as this can slow the sprouting process.

3. Repeat the rinsing process at least once every 12 hours until the sprouts are ready – usually about 2 to 4 days.

After three days, these sprouts are nearly ready to eat. As you can see they're already trying to escape the jar so I probably started with a few too many in the first place.

After three days, these sprouts are nearly ready to eat. As you can see they’re already trying to escape from the jar – so I probably put a few too many seeds in this jar in the first place.

4. Eat the sprouts straight away. Or transfer them to a plastic bag in the fridge where they keep well for several days (my family has happily eaten them at least a week later).

How do you like ’em?

If you grow or buy sprouts, I’ll be fascinated to hear how you like to eat ’em – which varieties do you like best and what’s the tastiest ways to eat them?

 

 

 

{ 24 comments… read them below or add one }

Liz B October 25, 2013 at 6:23 pm

Thanks, some great tips here. My staple is brown lentils and puy lentils. Apart from being tasty, they are very easy and quick to sprout, whereas I’ve had mixed results with alfalfa and others.

Reply

How to root android June 25, 2013 at 8:37 am

Hello, I do think your blog may be having browser
compatibility issues. Whenever I look at your web site
in Safari, it looks fine however, if opening in Internet Explorer, it’s got some overlapping issues. I simply wanted to give you a quick heads up! Other than that, fantastic website!

Reply

Mark Ridsdill Smith June 25, 2013 at 12:52 pm

Mmm, thanks v much for letting me know. I always use chrome or safari and it looks fine – but I’ll check on Explorer, too. Very useful to know this, appreciate it. Mark

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kirsty May 11, 2013 at 9:48 am

Hi. Just started first batch. Cant wait.
Green lentils, black & green mung beans.

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Mark RS May 11, 2013 at 4:21 pm

Good luck Kirsty, hope you enjoy them.

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Natalia May 2, 2013 at 2:28 pm

Thanks Mark,
I’ve done some tests in the meantime. I use a three-layer container with ventilation holes (sold in health food shops, at least in Belgium, where I am). I found that if I move the sprouts away from any corners or edges and make sure they have access to air, the mould seems to not appear anymore.
Thanks again for your wonderful tips!

Reply

Mark RS May 3, 2013 at 11:48 am

Hi well done for solving that puzzle, Natalie! You’re welcome for the tips – great to hear they’re working for you. Happy sprouting! Mark

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Natalia April 26, 2013 at 2:08 pm

Hi Mark,
I hope you don’t mind me coming back with another question. In having a close look whilst sprouting begun, I found a small portion (just on a few shoots) of white, hairy looking stuff which I assume might be some kind of mould. This happened on the mixed seeds, but not on the lentils and other beans. I removed it and it doesn’t seem to affect the rest. Have you ever had this problem and do you know how to avoid it?

Reply

Mark RS April 26, 2013 at 9:41 pm

Hi Natalia
It sounds like it might be mould. I’ve occasionally found that on mine. If it’s just a little I don’t personally worry about it – having said that, I’m not a health expert so I’m not in a position to offer reliable advice to you on the subject. I do, however, find that mould appears less if I rinse the sprouts more often, sometimes three times a day. So that maybe something you’d like to try.
Mark

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Frank April 24, 2013 at 8:30 pm

Where do you buy the seeds to start sprouting?

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Mark RS April 24, 2013 at 8:42 pm

Frank, you can either use dried pulses from health food shops – like mung beans, chick peas, whole lentils or peas – as these will usually sprout OK. This is usually by far the lowest cost way. Or you can buy seeds sold for sprouting, available online in many places. Buying in bulk is usually much better value than buying small packets. Quality can vary so shop around. I use http://www.skysprouts.co.uk/ – I’ve been delighted with the quality and taste of their seed sprouts, and they are great value, too.

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Frank April 24, 2013 at 9:04 pm

Thank you!

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Mark RS April 24, 2013 at 9:16 pm

My pleasure – I hope you have fun growing them!

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Natalia April 24, 2013 at 12:23 am

Hi. Thanks for these tips. I was just wondering how you know when they are really ready to eat? I’ve been trying to find this info on the net but cannot find anything specific. Is there any sign to look out for like the splitting of the bean, leaves on seedy sprouts or something like that? I’m on day three of my first sprouting ever (lentils on one level and a mix of alfalfa, roquette, radish, etc on the other) and I have no idea when I should consider that they are ready to eat.
Any advice would be much appreciated.
Thanks,
Natalia

Reply

Mark RS April 24, 2013 at 9:10 am

That’s a very good question and you’re right, no one ever really explains that. It varies a bit between seeds but usually there is a window of a few days in which you can eat them. Most sprouts take 3 – 5 days, although it can be a bit longer in cold weather. I’m not really sure how exactly to explain it! But my guess is that – if your seeds have grown small roots and shoots – you can eat them now. What I’d recommend is eating a few now and leaving some for tomorrow and the next day so you can see how they develop. Eat a few on each day and discover what stage you like best! Once the sprouts have developed a proper pair of leaves they are full grown and at this point its usually best to transfer them to a plastic bag and keep them in the fridge. They’ll stay fresh and tasty for a few days in there. Oh dear, I’m not sure if that helps?

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Natalia April 24, 2013 at 11:17 pm

Thanks for this very clear reply, which is indeed very helpful. With your explanations and your photos, I now have more of an idea of what to do. I tried them today and indeed had the intention to try some today, some tomorrow and some the next day… but I got so carried away that I have almost eaten them all! some had the little roots and shoots and some didn’t. I definitely have to be more patient with my next batch, which is already on it’s way. I can tell I’m going to get addicted to this new form of gardening and eating! Thank you again for your precious advice.

Reply

Duane April 22, 2013 at 3:08 pm

I’m new to sprouting so this may be a dumb question. After they sprout, do you cut the sprout off the seed or eat the entire thing?

Thanks,
Duane

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Mark RS April 23, 2013 at 9:48 am

Hi Duane, thanks for asking that – no such thing as a dumb question here… When sprouting you can eat the whole plant, roots and shoots.

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Neta August 1, 2013 at 9:05 pm

But what about the seed? Can I eat it in cases like pea?

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Mark Ridsdill Smith August 13, 2013 at 1:11 pm

Yes, you can eat the sprout and the seed case, Neta. (apologies for the slow reply, just back from hols).

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Edible Little Balcony January 25, 2013 at 3:38 pm

I love growing sprouts, too! They’re great not only with salads, but are great in sandwiches or my favorite: with cream cheese on a cracker.

Love your site, I’m also a fellow small-space grower and have begun my blog at: http://ediblebalcony.blogspot.com.

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Mark RS January 28, 2013 at 11:33 am

The cream cheese and cracker idea sounds tasty, I look forward to trying – sprouts are a bit addictive aren’t they? Thanks, too, for sharing the link to your site, it’s looking good, lots of useful stuff on it. Cheers, Mark

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Jamie December 7, 2012 at 11:36 pm

I just heard due to the potential risk of salmonella, a tsp. of vinegar added to the water can be beneficial.

Reply

Lucia December 7, 2012 at 9:48 pm

Great article, guys.I am very passionate about sprouting. For how I eat ‘em ‘n’ how I grow ’em please see here: http://www.facebook.com/TheClayLikeCompany . Please ‘Like’ if you like :)

Reply

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