In our house, sprouts are a healthy splurge. They’re not a regular grocery item, but a special treat we’ll pick up here and there. They have a way of jazzing up any plate of food. Plain ole salad? Throw some sprouts on top! A ham sandwich? Add some chickpea sprouts. Craving an over the top grain bowl? Add some alfalfa sprouts.
Naturally, learning how to grow sprouts indoors is a great way to save money and enjoy this delicious food more often. Sprouts are also an awesome way to keep growing green things throughout the winter, much like hydroponic gardening, all you need are a few simple tools to get started growing your own greens year round!
What are sprouts?
Sprouts are very young plants, harvested just a few days after they germinate. You’ll often see them in Asian cuisine or piled up on a sandwich. They are younger sprouts than microgreens, although they’re used in similar ways.
Depending on the seed, sprouts bring a subtle flavor to your dish. The flavor can range from spicy radish to licorice fennel, or a sweet green pea flavor. The sprouts add crunch and texture, while also being a nutritious food to indulge in, usually higher amounts of nutrients than the fully grown plants themselves.
What seeds can you use to grow sprouts?
There are many, many seeds that you can use for sprouts. Popular sprout varieties include:
- broccoli sprouts
- chickpea sprouts
- lentil sprouts
- green pea sprouts
- alfalfa sprouts.
The important thing, however, is to make sure you’re using high-quality seeds. Try to find heirloom, non-GMO seeds to ensure food safety and quality.
Why are sprouts controversial?
Sprouts have undergone a bit of controversy in recent years. Sprouts are often associated with foodborne illness, like Salmonella and E. coli. The humid conditions that sprouts are grown in can cause germs, and when served uncooked (as sprouts typically are) sprouts can lead to food poisoning. However, the real issue comes down to the quality of the seeds. So, make sure to buy the good stuff when learning how to grow sprouts.
- a jar
- a rubber band
How to Grow Sprouts
Learning how to grow sprouts is simple–and sort of magical. It’s the ultimate gateway drug to hydroponic plants. You’ll be hooked on year-round healthy greens!
Soak the seeds. You’ll need about one tablespoon of seeds for a standard 16 oz jar. Fill the jar with water and let the seeds soak, covered, for 6–8 hours. The amount of water isn’t hugely important, but you definitely want to fill it enough for the seeds to germinate. Aim for at least a cup of water.
Cover your seeds with cheesecloth and seal it with a rubber band. This is the easiest way to stay on top of rinsing your sprouts, which you’ll be doing quite a bit. Store the seeds in a dark place at room temperature during the germination process.
After the initial soaking process, drain your seeds. If you have a sprouting kit, these usually come with a colander, so you can use this. Otherwise, use the cheesecloth as a sieve. Once drained, the seeds should clump up a bit, forming a jelly texture.
Rinse the seeds two or three times a day for 3–4 days. Make sure to drain excess water out by tilting the jar upside down over a sink and letting it empty completely. Rinsing the seeds routinely will keep the seeds moist and encourage them to germinate.
Va-va-voom! In no time, you won’t believe your eyes–you’ll have baby sprouts forming. Day by day they’ll blossom a bit more. After a few days, once they reach about two inches in length, they’re ready for harvest. Simply rinse them and remove them from the jar. Wrap them in a clean towel and pat them dry, or use a salad spinner to remove excess water.
Tips for How to Grow Sprouts
Where to grow sprouts?
It’s ideal to grow sprouts in a well-circulated room at about seventy degrees fahrenheit. Although natural lighting can be helpful for seedlings, it isn’t necessary to place sprouts in a windowsill.
How should I store sprouts?
Once the sprouts are harvested, keep them in the fridge for 3–4 days.