Ever wondered how restaurants and health food stores make those little sprouts from grains and lentils? It’s easier than you could ever imagine!
Although I grew up eating a lot of sprouts (since my mom loves them and made them all the time), I had never attempted making them myself. A heard a fellow nutritionista give a 5-minute presentation about the nutritional benefits of consuming food that was alive- sprouts! I was sold! I picked up a couple of organic cotton bags from the local health food store and set out to make my sprouts. And here’s what I learned along the way.
What is a Sprout?
A sprout is simply a seedling of a plant. The process of sprouting is to germinate seeds to eat them raw or cooked.
What Can You Sprout?
- Short answer: almost anything!
- Pulses (lentils, peas, chickpeas, mung beans, soy beans, alfa alfa, fenugreek)
- Cereals (oats, wheat, corn, rice, barley, quinoa, kamut, buckwheat)
- Nuts & seeds (sesame, sunflower seeds, almonds, hazelnuts)
- Vegetables (broccoli, cabbage, radish, arugula, carrots, parsley, turnips, onions, spinach, lettuce)
- Sprouts are super nutritious! Why, you ask? Well, they contain all the elements a plant needs to grow. A sprout will have more nutrients than the dry seed/bean and the fully grown vegetable
- Grains and seeds contain enzyme inhibitors and something called phytic acid to protect themselves, making them indigestible when dry and raw. Soaking and sprouting causes these inhibitors and acids to become dormant, making them easier to digest for humans
- They are rich in enzymes and can improve overall digestion
- Soaking, fermenting and sprouting also breaks down gluten
- Sprouted foods are higher in protein than their unsprouted counterparts
- Sprouting increases fibre and essential fatty acid content
How Do I Sprout?
Sprouting is easy and not time-consuming. All you need to do during the sprouting process is check in on your sprouts every 4-12 hours and rinse them. Here’s what you do:
- Rinse your seeds (/beans/legumes) thoroughly under running water
- Place your seeds in a cheesecloth or cotton bag (glass jars work too), and place the bag itself in a bowl full of water, cover and keep overnight
- After about 12 hours, remove the bag from the bowl, rinse the seeds (don’t have the remove from the bag itself)
- Place the bag in a dry bowl and cover, or hang in dark space
- Check for tails to appear every 4-12 hours, rinsing each time
- Once sprouts have emerged, remove from bag and rinse
- Add to salads, sandwiches and smoothies!
Note: soaking time varies between 4 and 12 hours, depending on the size and hardness of the seed. Large hard beans such as garbanzo beans need 12 hours, whereas small soft seeds like buckwheat, amaranth, quinoa and many vegetable seeds only need 4 hours. Rinse them and change the water every couple of hours while they soak. 
So give sprouting a try! So far I have made sprouts from lentils and mung beans, both turned out amazing. Add them to salads, wraps, sandwiches and smoothies.
I would love to hear about your sprouting adventures!