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Growing Sprouts for a Burst of Winter Greens - Megen Hall, High Mowing Organic Seeds' Sales Associate

Megen ToaldoYou can’t beat the flavor of a fresh and verdant homegrown salad in the midst of winter. All it takes is a mason jar, a sprouting lid, water, and seed…and a little bit of time and care. Whether you choose to use a sprouting tray or this mason jar method, growing sprouts is easy and well worth the effort.

organic sprouts and shootsThere are countless varieties of seeds to sprout, but Alfalfa and Mung Beans are among the few that are great for the novice sprouter. Whichever varieties you should choose to sprout, there are a few simple rules to follow for great success. First, be sure to purchase seed that is sold specifically for sprouting. This way you can be certain that the seeds have been handled in a sanitary manner and do not have any seed coatings, since you will be eating the seed as well as its sprout.

Next, place approximately 2 Tbsp of seed into a clean mason jar (more than that can result in overcrowding and can lead to mold). Fill your jar with warm water to rinse the seed, drain (using your sprouting lid) and refill, covering the seed with about an inch of water. Throughout the process of sprouting, it is important to cover your jar with a cloth, such as muslin or a towel, to keep out light and dust, but allowing air to flow.

The timing of the process will depend widely on the temperature of your home. In cooler temps, sprouts grow slower, and vice versa. Soak the seed for about 12 hours in a warm location. Rinse with warm water and drain your sprouts 2-3 times daily, for the next few days. Some sprout experts suggest repeating the rinsing process twice each time. You want to keep the seed moist, but not soaked. Store the jar on its side to help spread out the seeds, allowing maximum airflow to the most seeds possible. After the sprouts have shed their hulls (some varieties have hulls, while others do not), place them in a bowl of water. Hulls will either sink or float for easy removal.

Once grown to their desired maturity, it is time to green up your sprouts on the windowsill. First, rinse and drain as previously done, but this time place your jar in a bright spot, out of direct sunlight, to encourage the chlorophyll and carotenes to develop. This process takes about a day. (Not all varieties require greening up. Refer to your seed packet for specific varietal instructions.) At the end of the day, rinse with cool water, drain in a colander, but don’t let them dry out. Sprouts are best when eaten immediately, but you can store them in the refrigerator in an airtight container for 4-5 days, rinsing each day.

Enjoy experimenting with our family favorite recipe for sprouts, which combines a mixture of our preferred sprout varieties (we like radish, alfalfa, and Mung bean combo). Mix with chopped apples, currants, minced red onion, and chopped and toasted walnuts. Top with a blend of balsamic vinegar, mayonnaise, and a dash of maple syrup. Tastes delicious and packs a nutritional punch!!


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Comment by fred walsh on December 15, 2010 at 4:17am

In step 2 you say to keep the jar covered to keep out light, i have been sprouting for yrs and have never heard this, why do you do that, whats the benefit, I sprout in a mason jar with a sprouting lid, upside down in my sink strainer, usually have two or three going at once, my sprouts have always done well, is there an advantage to keeping them in the dark for the first few days? Just curious...thanks

Comment by Jenni on December 15, 2010 at 12:15pm

Thanks for this great post! I've also read that you need to soak the sprouting seeds in bleach beforehand. Do you do this? Also, would it be ok to soak them in hydrogen peroxide instead (I really would like to avoid bleach)?

Comment by fred walsh on December 15, 2010 at 12:50pm

Wow soaking in bleach? no I havnt heard  that either, that just sounds a bit scary to me..really all i do is put about 2 rounded tbsp of seeds, (a bit more if youre doing mung beans) into a clean mason jar, fill it with fairly warm water, swirl seeds around till all the tiny air bubbles are gone, someties theyll clump together untill fully wetted,  then i dump the water, replace with about 3/4 jar of warm water and let sit about 4 hours, drain and leave upside down(on about a 45* angle) in my sink strainer, twice a day i fill my jar with water swirl for about 10 seconds and then drain, when i drain, i try to roll the jar slowly so the seeds stick to the sides and not lay in a wet lump. in about a week i have tons of sprouts,  I must be extremely lucky but have not ever had a problem with mold or spoilage.  good luck.. and let me know if you find that there IS some sort of presterilization i should be doing...would hate to get sick or anything. 

Comment by Jenni on December 15, 2010 at 12:59pm

I recently purchased mung bean sprouting seeds from Botanical Interests.  As part of their directions, it states  "if not properly disinfected, all seeds have the possibility of carrying E. coli bacteria. Please disinfect the seed prior to sprouting by soaking in a 2% bleach solution (1 tsp. bleach to 1 cup hot tap water) for 15 minutes. Rinse thoroughly."

If I must disinfect, I'd prefer to do it with hydrogen peroxide rather a toxic product like bleach.  I wonder if this would be as effective and what ration of peroxide to water I would need to use.

Comment by Cornelia on December 15, 2010 at 1:57pm

Yikes. I get my sprouting mixes from SproutPeople. They have excellent product and instructions on their web site. I have never heard of a bleach solution before sprouting. Sounds downright scary!

Comment by High Mowing Organic Seeds on December 15, 2010 at 2:01pm


If the seed is "certified sprouting seed" then it has been tested for e-coli and other diseases, so you wouldn't need to disinfect it.  If you are using un-certified seed, then yes, hydrogen peroxide would be ok.

Comment by High Mowing Organic Seeds on December 15, 2010 at 2:11pm

Hi Fred,

The reason that we suggested growing the sprouts in the dark is that it makes them more tender. Once light hits, they green up and can become tougher. They also stretch more in the dark and become longer because they are searching for light and their natural inclination is to grow upwards against gravity. But it's all a matter of personal preference - growing in the light is fine as well!


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