One thing people often ask me is how they can effectively increase their nutrient intake. Focusing on a nutrient-dense, primarily plant-based diet and taking a high-quality multivitamin is always a great start, but something I often encourage people to do is grow their own sprouts at home. Sprouting is a cheap, easy, and fun way to have nutritious sprouts available to you year-round, even in the colder months when decent fresh product is scarce. And believe me, a handful of fresh sprouts can be a very welcome treat. My partner and I have been known to eat a whole batch of sprouts as soon as they’re ready, taking turns grabbing handfuls from the germinator while standing over the sink. Not very classy, but very satisfying.
Sprouts are often much higher in nutrients, enzymes, and other beneficial phytonutrients than the adult plant itself. For example, broccoli sprouts can have 30 times the amount of the precursor to sulforaphane, which has been shown to promote healthy cell expression and protect against cancer. These tiny little growing plants are amazing, and definitely worth the little bit of effort they require.
In order to sprout seeds, they must first be soaked for 2-8 hours, then drained and rinsed 2-3 times a day. Different seeds require different soaking and germination times, but generally speaking most sprouts are ready to be eaten within 3-5 days. The draining and rinsing process is important to ensure that mould doesn’t grow on your sprouts. Once the sprouts are big enough, add them to salads, sandwiches, wraps, soups, or as garnish to almost any dish. Leftover sprouts can be stored in the fridge.
Alfalfa is one of the most well-known sprouts, and also happens to be our favourite. We rotate the types of sprouts that we grow to ensure we’re getting a wide variety of nutrients. We frequently grow mung beans (bean sprouts), lentils, adzuki beans, garlic chives, mustard, peas, broccoli, radish, clover, fenugreek, and kale sprouts. There are also some really nice blends available, one of my favourites being Mumm’s Spring Salad Mix.
There are many different methods for sprouting, so choose the method you think would work best for you. We really like our glass germinator for its useful ability to stay propped up for proper drainage. It also sits perfectly on the edge of the sink, allowing water to drain away without making a mess. Some people just use a jar with a mesh lid, but I find this less convenient since you still need to find a way to prop the jar upright. The only downside to the glass germinator is that you can only sprout so much at once. If you need to sprout in larger quantities, or would like to grow different types of sprouts at the same time, a sprouting tray comes in handy. There is also the sprouting bag method, which I’ve never personally tried. Whichever method you choose, fresh homegrown sprouts can be yours in just 3-5 days, at any time of the year. So what are you waiting for? Get sprouting!
- Soak your sprouting seeds in filtered water. Follow the directions on the package to determine how many seeds you will need, and how long they will need to be soaked. You will need less of larger seeds such as sunflower, and more of smaller seeds such as mustard. Also, some seeds should only be soaked 2 hours, while some may need to be soaked overnight. Sprouting charts are a helpful resource for finding out all this information, though it should be listed on the package as well.
- When your seeds are done soaking, rinse them 2-3 times until the water runs clear then set them in your desired germination container.
- Rinse your sprouts 2-3 times each day. When the sprouts are 1-3 inches long, they are ready to eat. Enjoy your fresh sprouts immediately!