how to make your own sprouts

Posted on May 8th, 2012

Slide into your Birkenstocks, tie on your recycled bamboo apron and turn up Steely Dan on the stereo (or tune to Portlandia on ABC)  because today we’re sprouting legumes!


If you were the kid with the mushroom kit or the Venus flytraps on your windowsill that you’d race home from school to just sit and… watch, you’ll love sprouting. If you rather like watching any creation you’ve made grow, you’ll love sprouting, too. So much veiw-able gratification as they do their sprouty thing.

The rest of you? Read on to see why it’s a good idea to try this cooking technique. And scroll below for some recipes. Me, personally, I avoid eating too many legumes: I find them super rough on my guts. Sprouting is certainly the best approach I’ve found for making them a smoother experience.

First, why sprout?

Sprouting kills toxins

Phytic acid, a toxin found in the fibre of legumes, leaches calcium, magnesium, iron, copper and zinc from our bodies. Not great. Sprouting neutralises this nasty acid (as does soaking before cooking). It also inactivates aflatoxins –  potent carcinogens – in grains.

Sprouting increases vitamins

It increases the amount of B vitamins and carotene in the little beady things. Vitamin C is also created in the process.

Sprouting (almost) fixes the farting issue…

….because the complex sugars responsible for intestinal gas are broken down into simpler glucose molecules.

Sprouting alkalises

I’ve shared about why eating more alkalising foods is a good thing before. Legumes tend to be acid forming but by sprouting them you are effectively making a plant…and plants are always alkalising.

Sprouting increases enzymes

Legumes – the nasty little things – also contain enzyme inhibitors, which unfortunately not only inhibit enzymes in the actual seed, but can also inhibit your own valuable enzymes once they have been eaten. So sprouting first neutralises these WHILE ALSO adding extra enzymes into your system. This helps your digestion immeasurably…but also…

Sprouting slows aging

I’ve written about how more enzymes = less aging in last week’s post (a simplistic reading of things, to be sure). Have a read here to get the drift.

But a word of caution

Now. Sit down here and take heed, my child. You don’t want to eat too many raw sprouted legumes. Don’t go overboard. They still contain a few toxins… and can bring on the farting issue if consumed in bulk. The best idea is to also cook your sprouts where possible. I braise or steam mine, or add them to stews and soups. See below for more.

sprouted legumes

1 cup of dried legumes (chickpeas, brown lentils, mung beans work really well)


Soak the legumes in the water overnight. In the morning drain and rinse in a wire sieve. Leaving the legumes in the sieve, prop the sieve over a bowl and put a saucepan lid over the top. Leave on the bench for 2-3 days, rinsing twice a day (I rinse really well, filling the bowl with water up and over the legumes and stirring up a little before draining). In summer, you’ll need to rinse more often.  White shoots will start to form after a day or so. Once they’re about 1/2 cm long, put in a storage container in the fridge.

Things to do with ya sprouts

* steam lightly and then sprinkle on a salad

* Toss through stirfries or casseroles or soups

* For a snack. Braise in a little chicken stock (I freeze in icecube trays for just this purpose) and a dash of Liquid Aminos or tamari.

* Add to a mish-mash meal. Steam some veggies (broccoli or zucchini) and the sprouts or braise as above (with some Liquid Aminos) and then toss through 1/2 a chopped avocado, feta and rocket…perhaps some capers…

* Try this recipe for Teriyaki Lentils.

* Or this one for a curried sprouted lentils recipe (topped with a coriander sauce)

* Or check out the recipes in Sally Fallon’s Nourishing Traditions

Do you sprout? Any tips? What do you do with them? Fixes the farting issue? OK, maybe that goes too far…

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  • Jessica Nazarali (@JessicaNazarali)

    I love sprouting! I throw them into all my salads, it’s so satisfying watching them grow!


  • Tricia

    Does anyone know how to prepare chia seeds? Do they need to be sprouted???


    seeker Reply:

    no i dont think you need to sprout chia seeds, they’re good to go as they are, as far as i know …. i just sprinkle them on yoghurt/in a smoothie/over salad & put them in my gf bread etc …

    sarah, have you ever looked at how we breathe in relation to ph? ie. breathing through the nose and less often is alkalising, whereas over breathing and through the mouth produces more acid in the body …. its really fascinating stuff …
    take care not to over breathe/hyperventilate … its more common than one would think …

    looking forward to trying sprouting …. very exciting! xo :)


    Caitlin Reply:

    I have heard that you get more out of chia seeds if they are soaked, as if you just eat them whole/raw they are not easily digested by our guts. I like making chia pudding for this reason- soak chia in almond milk overnight and add fruit. Yum!


    seeker Reply:

    sounds gorgeous! thanks caitlin. i know i need to drink plenty of fluids after eating chia to keep it all moving through! :)


    Sarah Wilson Reply:

    Soaking chia seeds – even for 5 mins – in some sort of liquid turns them into a bulky gooby agent very good for getting your bowels moving. Spourting chia… try this link

    Mona Reply:

    Thanks for that link, Sarah…Chia Pets were never a ‘thing’ over here in the UK so I first heard of them when I was reading up on chia seeds, lol. Sprouting them seems like a lot of effort for something that isn’t problematic in its original form though…

    Sharon in Philly Reply:

    How much of each do you use? I think I need to use more of the seeds.


  • Maria

    Oh yeah, I sprout. Sprouting goodness all ’round!


  • Mona

    Tricia, chia seeds do not require sprouting as far as I know…not a legume or a grain.


  • Kirsty

    I love sprouting! I’ve made a few mistakes when I first started out, soaking and storing in the pantry rather than the fridge. That’s not a good idea as they go moldy – same with nuts etc.

    I cook sprouted legumes in exactly the same way I would cook them in raw form and I also like to eat them raw in salads.

    Seeds don’t need to be sprouted, Tricia. They are packed full of the good stuff in their natural form :)


  • Tricia

    Thanks for the info guys. Seems we can enjoy chia seeds without any preparation :)


    Sarah Wilson Reply:

    correct – they pose no digestive issues


  • Emily

    Possibly dumb question – what type of beans do you use to sprout? Can you use dried ones? Or canned ones? Or only fresh?


    Kirsten Reply:

    Dried ones only, I think :)


    Sarah Wilson Reply:

    only dried… lentils, mung beans, chick peas…


  • Rebecca

    Ooh! Question…what are liquid aminos???


    seeker Reply:

    liquid amonos – on sale here and it tells you a little bit about them …. im gonna try them! although I was interested to read that it comes from soya bean, which i thought was problematic for people with gut issues – maybe its ok as in such small amounts is not threatening?!


  • Caitlin

    I was into sprouting a few years ago, I lived in the rainforest though, so mould was a big issue. I gave myself a terrible bout of food poisoning because, unknown to me, not only was i growing sprouted mungbeans, but also probably e-coli or salmonella too. I am too scared to make my own sprouts now! The tropics is not ideal for sprouting them on your benchtop I suppose! Anyone else have similar issue?


    Jen Reply:

    I have read instructions that advises disinfecting sprout seeds. This article describes one method using 3% food grade hydrogen peroxide as a disinfectant.


    Use 3% food grade hydrogen peroxide as a disinfectant. One teaspoon to a cup of water is good. Use this to disinfect your jars and even your seeds before your begin Sprouting. Hydrogen peroxide is an effective anti-viral, antibacterial and anti-fungal solution to use. Be sure that the hydrogen peroxide is the 3% Food Grade type. This can be found at most health food stores.


  • Mia Bluegirl

    Seems like a lot of effort to go to for something that is still slightly toxic and not really all that high in nutrients. Especially when you could go for a carrot or broccoli, which is edible as it is, and doesn’t need to be de-toxified.

    I can see the fun of sprouting tiny things, though. It’s always fun watching something grow.


  • Maria

    Question – Sarah, are fermented vegies meant to have a slightly sour taste? Okay might sound like a stupid question, but my sauerkraut never does – it just tastes like slightly salty cabbage! So I’m wondering whether it’s actually fermented…? I follow Sally Fallon’s recipe down to the T though. Use whey and all.


  • Alison

    Oooh happy coincidence/psychic powers! I just bought a nut milk bag for almond milk and read that I can grow sprouts in it too so thought, “I’ll search Sarah’s website coz she’ll have something about sprout-growing”…sure enough! Love your work :)


  • Cassandra

    Thanks Sarah, that’s a great idea using the pot and lid! Loved the opening paragraph to, made me laugh, maybe ’cause I can relate! haha


  • Lisa Ingram

    I like the old jar and old tights method. pop in the seeds and the water, tie the piece of tights on with a lacca band. Pour out the water. You can fill the jar the next rinsing time thru the fabric and pour it out again, no lids. Handy because I am in a very very tiny house and tiny kitchen so no putting downing space anywhere in our place! Lisa


  • Cosi

    Hi Sarah,
    I have IBS (fructose malabsorption) and love sprouts- I can’t tolerate legumes which is really difficult as I really like them and they are nutritious and easy… but sprouts are great!
    I don’t always have time to sprout, but my local organic shop has crunchy sprout mix- I put them on everything- salads, on top of veggie curries.
    My fave thing for them is a recipe for a tahini and lime coleslaw-

    Crunchy sprouts, grated carrot, grated zucchini, thinly sliced cucumber, thinly sliced capsicums, coriander, thinly chopped mild (ish!) chilli, vietnamese mint.
    Dressing: tablespoon of tahini, lime juice, olive oil, splash of tamari, pepper, finely minced fresh ginger.
    I also top with some dry toasted (hot pan, no oil) black and white sesame seeds.
    Mix in a big bowl and enjoy! :)

    So yes, even with IBS I find sprouts fantastic.
    Thanks Sarah for the tips on sprouting- I used to do this with my mum as a kid!


  • Tonnia Williams

    Does sprouting change the carbohydrate count on legumes? My daughter is a type 1 diabetic and we carb count.


  • Meghan @ Making Love In the Kitchen

    I LOVE sprouting! I can’t get enough sprouts into my diet- always always always put them on rice cake with avocado spread, it is so fantastic and tasty.

    Great tips! More peeps need to know about how easy peasy sprouting is. I made a sweet little tutorial vid which has gotten a great amount of traffic:

    Thanks for sharing, Sarah!


  • Lily

    Hey Sarah,

    I’m really excited about making my own sporuts! But one thing I’m slightly unsure about is their storage afterwards? How long do they keep in the fridge if I make a big batch? Or is it better to make smaller portions regularly ?

    Love your blog!!


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