Scrumptious Sprouting for Your Meals

By Nora Dunn on 3 December 2007 (Updated 28 May 2010) 13 comments
Photo: Nora Dunn

Instead of buying those expensive sprouts in the produce section at the store, did you ever consider making your own sprouts? Sprouting mung beans, alfalfa, broccoli, and even lentils or wheat berries make for some yummy fresh meal ingredients, and at a fraction of the price you would pay for the sprouted stuff.

Just a tiny handful of mung beans (pictured above) can in a few days produce copious amounts of bean sprouts for you to use in stir fries, salads, and even sandwiches.

There are a number methods for sprouting (one of which Philip shared with us in his inexpensive recipe article), but one of the easiest I have experimented goes as follows:

Soak your beans of choice in water for 8-24 hours. I usually let them go for closer to the 24 hour mark, depending on the sprout. Some beans take longer to germinate than others.

After soaking, empty the mixture into a container with holes in the bottom and sides. I tend to use a large yogurt or margarine container into which I have made small puncture holes, but you could also use a strainer or colander depending on the bean. Many other methods promote the use of a glass jar with a modified lid for drainage. I like using plastic containers because they're easy to come by and I can cover them (to guard against hungry critters) and keep them in a dark place.

Twice daily, rinse your sprouts thoroughly. This aides the sprouting process and also helps with rinsing any husks or bitter residue off.

And presto — you have sprouts! Depending on the bean, you will usually have sprouts within 2-3 days.

Experiment with what you want to sprout to find what works best for you. It’s cheap! The small amount of beans you see pictured above cost me about 10 cents, and produced the amount you see in the adjacent container. Sure beats the couple of bucks I would have shelled out for the finished product, and I have a sense of personal pride in my sprouts too!

This is also a great project to get the kids involved in, as we approach the holiday season and kids need some projects to keep them busy.

Here are some sprouting resources (including alternative sprouting methods) for your reading and learning pleasure:

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Guest's picture

Now that is being frugal :)

Guest's picture
Badgerette

I will try this - thank you!!!

Guest's picture
Guest

The way I grew alfalfa sprouts as a teenager was to put ~1T of seeds in a quart sized zipper bag, filled with enough water to cover completely. Let soak overnight, then poke the bag with a pin, dozens of times, and squeeze the water out. Rinse seeds once or twice daily, setting bag near a kitchen window, on a paper towel to absorb any excess moisture. Voila, sprouts in 2-3 days. Haven't tried it, but now they have the bags with holes already in them (for veggie storage) which may work equally well. Mmmm. May have to find a new alfalfa seed source.

Guest's picture
Naomi

That's funny, I was just wondering the other day how to do this. I don't have access to the seeds though. I suppose there isn't any way to grow more alfalfa sprouts from the ones you bought, is there?

Myscha Theriault's picture

You know, I've been meaning for years to get into this. Now that I live in the middle of nowhere, it should be extra motivation. Thanks, Nora!

As for seeds, Walton Feeds always used to carry them in bulk, and I believe Wild Oats and other health food stores carry them. As for me, I'll probably have to place a bulk order, since there really aren't any Earthy-crunchy stores in the area for at least a 2-4 hour radius. Oh well, that should help me stick to it, right?

Guest's picture

Thanks for this! I've been wanting to start doing some sprouting on my own, especially broccoli sprouts. Now to find the seeds!

Cheers
Scott Kustes
Modern Forager

Guest's picture
Guest

sprouts are known to have one of the strongest anticarcinogens in them.
Research done in 2002 found that the lowest rates of cancer in the world are found in japan and far eastren countries.this as directly related the the consumption of sprouting vegetables.the rest of the diet is not really condusive to good health...
I have been preparing and eating sprouts like this for 7 yrs and besides a bout of food poisoning(bad chinese food ironicly) i have not been sick at all in those 7 yrs.Not even a runny nose.
So...this is not only a way of saving cash on tasty meals but a way to avoid doctors bills.
Brilliant post

Guest's picture
Guest

sprouts are known to have one of the strongest anticarcinogens in them.
Research done in 2002 found that the lowest rates of cancer in the world are found in japan and far eastren countries.this as directly related the the consumption of sprouting vegetables.the rest of the diet is not really condusive to good health...
I have been preparing and eating sprouts like this for 7 yrs and besides a bout of food poisoning(bad chinese food ironicly) i have not been sick at all in those 7 yrs.Not even a runny nose.
So...this is not only a way of saving cash on tasty meals but a way to avoid doctors bills.
Brilliant post

Guest's picture
Bellen

After about a 10 year hiatus I've started growing sprouts again. The lettuce we get here in southwest Florida is the worst I've ever seen and at $1.50 per head, with about 25% waste due to rot, rust, etc. I'd had it. Sprouts are wonderful - in salads, soups, on sandwiches. Try them, especially tangy ones, with crunchy peanut butter on WW bread - heavenly.

Guest's picture
Guest

Mung Beans are what I most often find in non-health food places, lentils work too. If you want to buy online I had the nicest transaction with Sprout People http://www.sproutpeople.com/

Guest's picture
Jon A

I know that lots of foods carry risks with them. I also understand the difference between *eliminating* risk (which is impossible) and *managing* risk, which is what each of us does when we put on our seat belt.

When I saw this post, I thought 'Great idea! Now I can eat raw sprouts again.' I haven't eaten them for years because of the risk of salmonella and e. Coli.

Unfortunately, even the sprouts you sprout yourself may carry the same risks as the ones you buy in the store.

http://www.drweil.com/drw/u/id/QAA202343

Does anyone have suggestions for how to reduce the risk?

Nora Dunn's picture
Nora Dunn

Interesting...I hadn't heard of this before, and I have been an avid sprout eater for ages. Does anybody have input on this?

Guest's picture
reanaz

These people are very, very pro-sprout, so you kind of have to take it with a grain of salt, but here's the SproutPeople's response to allegations that sprouts are a leading cause of food-borne illness--http://www.sproutpeople.com/safe.html. I think the bottom line is to be careful where you get your seeds, because infected seeds are pretty much the only way home-grown sprouts can be affected, unless you're spraying your little jar of sprouts with manure or spritzing them with salmonella spray. Well, I guess if your water is infected that would do it... but then you have a lot bigger problems than infected sprouts.
I think most of the organic craze if overblown, but this is one case where buying organically-produced seeds might be worth it.