Grow some grub in your kitchen, even in the middle of winter, by learning how to sprout!

Sprouting is a low-cost, healthy habit that can add homegrown greens to your meals with just a small time commitment every day. It’s almost idiot-proof in its simplicity, and the materials you need can be picked up for only a small investment.

Some of the most common seeds to sprout are alfalfa, red clover, lentils, mung beans, and wheat berries. Try some of each to see which ones your family gobbles up.


  • Quart-sized Mason jars
  • Cheesecloth (or metal sprouting screen that fits inside jar lid) and rubberbands
  • A drip tray
  • A dark place to keep the jars – kitchen cupboard works great
  • A supply of seeds, grains, and beans to sprout

To begin, put two tablespoons of alfalfa seeds in the jar and fill half way with filtered or spring water. Let them soak for eight hours (overnight), then cover with cheesecloth and drain the water out. The soak water is great for watering houseplants. Rinse the seeds with fresh water and drain again. Place the jar upside-down on the drip tray (leaning them at an angle lets them get air, which is important for sprouts).

Rinse the seeds at least twice a day, draining them well and putting them back over the drip tray. It’s important to rinse them with fresh water so they don’t get moldy or rot, and setting the schedule for morning and night keeps you on track (rinse the sprouts, feed the dog, take out the trash…).

When the seed leaves appear, the sprouts can be brought out of the dark cupboard and placed on the counter in indirect sunlight. Don’t put them directly in the sun, or you’ll end up with a slimy mess, as they get way too warm.

When you see the tail of the root appear, they’re edible, but for some, like alfalfa and clover, growing them to a length of about 3 or 4 inches is the norm, which takes 4 to 7 days. With alfalfa and clover, if you let them grow too long, they will take over the jar and be really hard to remove, so harvest them when there’s still some room left. Rinse well, or pour them into a bowl and swish them around to float off the seed husks (we don’t mind them, but some do).

Measurements and soaking times for sprouting seeds:

  • Alfalfa: Soak 2 Tbs for 4 to 8 hours
  • Red Clover: Soak 2 Tbs for 4 to 8 hours
  • Broccoli: Soak 2 Tbs for 8 to 12 hours
  • Fenugreek: Soak 1/4 cup for 4 to 8 hours
  • Radish: Soak 3 Tbs for 4 to 8 hours
  • Wheat and rye berries: Soak 1 cup for 8 to 12 hours (can be blended in food processor for a raw porridge)
  • Whole lentils: Soak 1 cup for 8 to 12 hours (can be eaten in 8 hours, no need to grow longer)
  • Raw hulled sunflower seeds: Soak 1 cup for 6 to 8 hours, then eat
  • Chia: Soak 1 cup for 6 to 8 hours, then eat
  • Sesame: Soak 1 cup for 6 to 8 hours, then eat

Try mixing alfalfa and clover together, or adding radish and broccoli to the mix for a zesty flavor. Top a green salad with sprouts, add them to sandwiches and lunchboxes, or sprinkle with soy sauce and eat them as is.

The joys of sprouting are many: you can grow some of  your own food, you don’t have to pay the 2 to 4 bucks for a little box of sprouts at the store, and you and your family are eating highly nutritious fresh raw food.

Image: Ctd 2005 at Flickr under Creative Commons License



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