A Beginner’s Guide to Sprouts

by Hans Ericsson


Sprouts are healthy, nutritious, and tasty, but they can also be really expensive. Here are some tips on how to start sprouting at home to save money and eat healthy!

This past year, one of the things that I wanted to do was live a healthier lifestyle, and I knew that eating more vegetables was going to be a large part of that. Iโ€™m not vegan, but after some education and watching several incredible food documentaries, I now only consume meat an average of 1-2 times a month, instead of 5-10 times a week.

When I do consume it, it comes from a local source, and the less I eat of it the less I feel the need to have it. While my vegan girlfriend is thrilled that I hardly eat meat, I am pretty much never full. Louis C.K. said it best: “I don’t stop eating when I’m full. The meal is not over when I’m full. The meal is over when I hate myself. That’s when I stop.”

So what does this have to do with sprouts?

For the uninitiated, sprouts are freshly germinated roots typically coming from some kind of vegetable, bean, pea, or other seed. You can grow them fairly easily in nearly any indoor environment and sprout a very wide range of seed varieties. I have always enjoyed sprouts in salads, wraps, and Asian dishes but generally didn’t purchase them because store bought sprouts were out of my budget.

Iโ€™ll admit that I was a little skeptical when one of my coworkers gifted me with a sprout incubator. I donโ€™t know why, but I assumed that the process was going to be messy, or somehow just not worth doing. Why else would they cost so much in supermarkets? Obviously this was going to be a process, but I figured I would give it a go, just to say I tried it. I was sure that the end result was going to be an awkward conversation ending with me saying โ€œMy favorite kind of sprout? Oh, thatโ€™s a tough call, but Iโ€™d have to say original flavor. Iโ€™m more of a traditional sprout fan.โ€ Needless to say I was beside myself when I found out how easy the process was.

Since then, I’ve found that adding lots of sprouts to my salads, veggie wraps and snacks actually fill me up, which is something I canโ€™t say about many other vegetables. This was a huge realization for me, as not only am I spending next to nothing on a creative, delicious, healthy food product, Iโ€™m also growing it myself. I have sole control as to how many I have, what kinds they are, and what, if anything is done to modify the growing process. Also, itโ€™s healthy or something. I donโ€™t know. It sure feels healthy.

How to Grow Your Own Sprouts

I’ve been using my fancy plastic sprout incubator, but you can make a sprouting jar instead with things you have lying around your house. All you really need are:

  • a clean jar
  • some cheese cloth
  • rubber bands

Soak the seeds overnight, then drain them, cover your jar with cheesecloth that you secure with the rubber band, and turn the jar upside down. Rinse your seeds daily, until your sprouts…sprout! If you need more details on how to start your sprouts, check out this video:

Some seeds to try sprouting:

  • alfalfa
  • sunflower
  • lentils
  • peas
  • radish
  • broccoli
  • quinoa

Everyone should be growing their own sprouts because if I can do it, so can you. Unless you donโ€™t like sprouts, then you shouldnโ€™t. I guess maybe if you want to grow them to give them to someone else that would be okay.

The only downside to sprouting at home is that not all raw sprouts are edible. Itโ€™s important to do a quick Google search before you start a batch, as there are some seeds, like soy- and kidney beans, that will produce a toxic sprout. Most of the toxic varieties come from the solanaceae, or “nightshade,” family of plant which includes tomato, potato, and eggplant. Stay away from those and you should be all set!

Hans Ericsson is a travel writer based out of Portland, Maine. When not in the states, he enjoys cruising all over England in a UK car rental while looking for the perfect sprout.

Image Credit: Sprouts photo via Shutterstock

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