Kitchen Stewardship | A Baby Steps Approach to Balanced Nutrition

Monday Mission: Sprout Something!

March 8th, 2010 · 47 Comments · Do It Yourself, Monday Missions, Upgraded Nutrition

Your mission, if you choose to accept, is to sprout a seed.IMG_8384 I know many folks are getting into their gardening groove already, but that’s not exactly what a mean. I mean sprouting a seed, like a wheat berry, pinto bean, or lentil, then cooking and eating it.

Impact Ratings: healthpositive moneypositive

Level of Commitment: Baby Steps

There is a good body of research that shows that sprouting a seed before consuming it increases the nutrients and makes the whole experience a healthier one, and there’s generally less controversy (but not a lack of it) there than with the soaking grains research.

Be sure to read all the way to the bottom for the giveaway winners from last week and a big announcement!

How to Sprout a Seed or Legume

You can purchase sprouting kits, but I’m all about the free options.

Supplies needed:

  • Glass canning jar
  • Canning ring lid or rubber band
  • Tulle or similar netting, washed (mine was from a candy wedding reception favor)
  • Net bag from onions or citrus (washed well in hot water)
    • OR colander for legumes or large grains
  • Bowl
  • Seeds or legumes

UPDATE: Here’s a better photo tutorial of how to sprout seeds and my free DIY sprouting kit idea.

I’ve sprouted sunflower seeds:IMG_8321

Pinto beans:IMG_8384 Lentils:IMG_8938 Rice:IMG_8971

Spelt:IMG_8385 and little seeds like broccoli and radish, but I forgot to take a picture.

Method:

For smaller seeds or grains:

  1. Soak seeds or beans in water overnight or for about 12 hours.  I do this right in the glass jar – just don’t fill it more than half full of legumes, because they’ll expand.  It takes about 20 minutes to get packed-in pintos out of a half-gallon jar.  Just an estimate.  :p  Only use 1 Tbs or less of seeds if you want sandwich sprouts, like from radish or broccoli seeds.
  2. Put tulle or net bag from onions or citrus over the open mouth of the jar, and attach it with the canning lid (or rubber band, but the lid is optimal).  Choose whatever has smaller holes than what you’re sprouting.  When I do little seeds, I start with the tulle, then move to the onion bag after they start getting long sprouts.IMG_8322
  3. Drain the water out.
  4. Rinse with clear water.
  5. Set the jar partly upside down in a bowl.  This will allow the water to continue to drain out through the mesh, but the seeds/legumes will stay in.  IMG_8324
  6. Every 12 hours or so, rinse the seeds right through the mesh with clear water and pour the water off.  Set up again in the bowl to drain.
  7. If you’re going for sandwich sprouts, allow them to grow until they’re about an inch long.  Sunlight will increase the nutrients further by adding chlorophyll to the mix.
  8. For grains or legumes, a tiny sprout will do just fine.

For legumes or larger grains:

  1. Soak in a bowl of water for at least 12 hours.  Be sure to cover the legumes with twice the amount of water as they will expand.IMG_8931
  2. Pour out into a colander.
  3. Now you can just leave your legumes in the colander, preferably with a plate underneath to catch the water.IMG_8934
  4. Approximately every 12 hours (breakfast and dinner works great), rinse with clear water and set up to keep sprouting.
  5. You’ll want some air circulation, and don’t try to do too many at once to the point where the beans are so cramped that they get moldy.
  6. In 24-72 hours, you should see sprouts!  You can choose to cook them as soon as they sprout or when the sprout is 1/4” long or so.
  7. For these lentils, I chose to partially clear out the seed coat or outer hull by swishing them in water until the hull rose to the top.  What does this do to the nutrition?  I wasn’t sure, but the coating should be the hardest to digest, and Ma Ingalls took all the coating off her corn in Little House in the Big Woods, so I thought I’d try it!IMG_8945 I froze the extras of this huge batch after cooking them.  I like to do as much as my colander can hold without molding at a time to save energy – both mine and the stove’s.  One pound of lentils yielded about 16 cups after sprouting and cooking.  IMG_8974UPDATE:  I just read this: “Soy and kidney bean sprouts are toxic and should be avoided. Sprouted lentils, black eyed beans, partridge peas, peanuts and vetch retain phytates which cause poor digestion and gas,” here, and although the author doesn’t source his post, he’s right about many of his facts.  Besides that, these sprouted lentils DID give me awful gas! (Bet you wanted to know that, right?)
  8. Here is an excellent sprouting guide, with what temp water to use, how long to soak and how long to sprout.  It’s what I needed when I was just fumbling around making things up as I went!
How do Sprouted Seeds Taste?

Weird.  Or no different at all, depending who you ask.

Because you’re using up some of the starch in the sprouting process, things like lentils and rice taste a little sweeter.  They’re more like plants than seeds now, so that makes sense.

I really don’t notice it (much) in something like pintos once they’re all made into refried beans.  I’m guessing the longer the sprout, the more the taste will change, and I haven’t seen any research that shows that the nutrition will be increased more the longer the sprout.  For legumes, I would stop after the sprout appears.  I’m guessing that you don’t actually want the tiny plant to use up too much of its stored energy; save that for yourself!

Don’t try to sprout brown rice for five days.  Take my word on that one.  I kept waiting for longer sprouts, but clearly something was happening, because it tasted so sweet it was almost unpalatable.  Not a fun stir fry night!  You only need to soak brown rice in warm water for 22 hours to make it germinate, says ABC Science.IMG_9014 See how the tip of the rice is accented after a basic overnight soak?  That’s all you need to see to know you’re dealing with living food!

How do you Cook Sprouted Grains/Legumes?

Just cook as you normally would.  You’ll probably find that the legumes cook much faster than soaked dry beans, but don’t count on it!  I used a normal amount of water for the rice and had to cook it longer to absorb it all, because the soaked rice already had absorbed some water overnight that I hadn’t accounted for.  If you drain the soak water off, you can get away with using less water to cook, or just have fluffier/more moist rice.

You can use the cooked, sprouted beans or grains in any recipe.  You can also dehydrate the grains and grind them into flour, which can be used in recipes that don’t adapt well to soaking (like cookies!).

Small sprouted seeds go well on salads or in sandwiches, or as a run-through-the-kitchen snack.  Be sure to refrigerate sprouted seeds if you’re not cooking them, and store things like sprouted sunflower seeds in the freezer for longer term (dehydrate in a low temp oven or dehydrator first).  Remember that you just got rid of their enzyme inhibitors and turned them from seeds (stored energy) into plants (growing energy) – they’ll now decay faster!

Added Bonus: Sprouting increases the mass of your seeds and legumes.  It’s like getting 25% more free! How often can real food cooks make use of that advertising gimmick?  ;)

You may have noticed this is a baby steps challenge.  It is soooo easy!  To sprout dry beans, just plan ahead a few extra days, and you don’t even need any fancy equipment.  You can do this immediately.  After the sourdough starter, you’re welcome for an easy one!  ;)

Look for a Food for Thought later this week on exactly how sprouting changes the nutrition of your seeds and legumes.

Be sure to come back tomorrow for the very last Real Food Face-Off!  I guess I’ll have to answer the questions, because someone has to line up against my favorite real food author…drum roll, please!  Nina Planck!

Last Week’s Giveaway Winners

The two winners of the Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day books are:

Jen at A Heavenly Perspective and Laurel at Happy at Home

Congrats, girls!  Jen was first and gets her choice.  Please email me your contact information.

If you didn’t win, check out the book(s) at your local library or order them through Amazon; buy both for free shipping.

The winner of the one-hour consultation with Luanne Gerrity, holistic health counselor, is:

Chanelle of Simply Real

Send me an email with your contact info (phone, email) and I’ll pass it along to Luanne!  By the way, I did make sure Luanne’s answers weren’t counted in the comments for this giveaway.

If you’re interested in re-balancing your life: body, mind, spirituality, diet, and emotions, you may want to look into working with Luanne yourself. Visit her at I’m Hungry for Something to learn more about how she can help you.  (Phone consultations work from anywhere in the U.S.)

———————————————

I’d love to see more of you!  Sign up for a free email subscription or grab my reader feed. You can also follow me on Twitter.

If you missed the last Monday Mission, click here.

Kitchen Stewardship is dedicated to balancing God’s gifts of time, health, earth and money.  If you feel called to such a mission, read more at Mission, Method, and Mary and Martha Moments.

I am an affiliate of Amazon.com and Luanne Gerrity.  See my full disclosure statement here.

This post is entered in Works for me Wednesday at Rocks in my Dryer and Frugal Fridays at Life as MOM.

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47 Comments so far ↓

  • Divina

    I was able to sprout sunflower seeds before and I love the flavor. Do you remove the skin after you soak them? I think I have a problem with my seeds being wet even if I drain them. I guess I need to use a different strainer with a bigger hole.

    Katie Reply:

    Divina,
    I didn’t take the time to remove skins, but some of them came off anyway. You might try the jar with mesh over the top – that drains really well. I did dehydrate my sunflower seeds after sprouting them. I had forgotten that part until I read your comment! :) Katie

    Sa'ada Reply:

    hello katie,

    do you know whether or not i should dehydrate them if i want to make them into sunflower butter?

    thank you

    Katie Reply:

    Sa’ada,
    I haven’t made nut butters, but I guess it would depend on if moisture will make a difference. I’ve learned that I do NOT have to dehydrate before making my date-n-nut power bars…so…maybe nut butter would work with just sprouted! I would test out a small amount and be sure to refrigerate the end product, as it will not have much of a shelf life, if any. :) Katie

  • Wendy

    Thanks for posting this – I’ve always wanted to try this but thought you needed one of those fancy schmancy sprouting trays.
    .-= Wendy´s last blog ..Nutty Cauliflower Skillet =-.

  • Laurie N

    I bought alfalfa sprouts before I found out that they were the one thing I shouldn’t sprout – sigh. I just picked up some mung beans the other day and plan to tackle them soon.

    Pinetree Garden Seeds sells screw on plastic lids with different sizes of mesh. (Ah, found them – https://www.superseeds.com/products.php?cat=5 – they’re called Sprout Ease and sell for $6.98)

    I did just put on seeds to sprout, but they a couple hundred flowers planted in dirt. ;-)
    .-= Laurie N´s last blog ..Food Madness every Saturday in March =-.

  • Holly

    Oh, good-I’m actually ahead this time! My alfalfa/radish seeds are sprouting already. I’ve beena big fan of salad sprouts for a while now.
    I haven’t sprouted beans or grains though. So, I’ll sprout some lentils next.
    .-= Holly´s last blog ..Starting seeds =-.

  • Fruitful Harvest

    Great post!
    I was just asking around in my circle of friends about sprouting grains and beans.

    God was listening…you are an angel!

    I can’t wait to try some sprouts.

    I just bought some red lentils yesteray and I always have beans!

    I never knew you could sprout rice….so cool!

    Peace and Love,
    Georgiann
    .-= Fruitful Harvest´s last blog ..Painting The Stations of The Cross~ =-.

  • Sarah W

    It never occurred to me to sprout rice either!

    Thank you for the idea to sprout a lot then freeze after cooking! Your always have the most simple yet brilliant plans! (And why can’t I think of that myself?? ;) ;) )

    For the snack-y type sprouts, do you cook them or dehydrate them?
    I’ve been wanting to do more sprouts, but I’ve been worried about them spoiling before I can eat them all, but also not wanting to go through the time and energy for a really tiny amount.

    Have you seasoned them with anything for snacking?

    Katie Reply:

    Sarah,
    I realized tonight that I forgot that I even dehydrated the sunflower seeds, but that is what I did. My husband and I didn’t really like them for just munching, so I stick them in granola and bars, hence no special seasoning attempts. Salt is good! ;) I only do a tiny bit of little seed sprouts for sandwiches, because nobody likes them but me and they only last 3-7 days.
    :) Katie

  • Kim

    Sorry for the very newbie question. Where do you get the seeds to soak if you want sandwich sprouts?

    Katie Reply:

    Kim,
    I have only seen them at my local health foods store – they actually sell them “for sprouting”. Now, I also sprouted what I had left of last year’s broccoli seeds for my garden, just to see if I could figure out how before investing $4. !! I don’t know if you’re “supposed” to do that, but it worked! :) Katie

  • Simple in France

    Ok, can I just say that I’m getting addicted to your blog? I have all of these things that I’ve been meaning to try but putting off . . .and you’re so good about breaking it into the ‘baby steps.’ I’m most impressed.
    .-= Simple in France´s last blog ..SIF community spotlight: Tree at Frugal is a Green Journey. =-.

  • Erin from Long Island

    Yup, you’ve done it again! Another Mission near to my heart. I LOVE sprouts! I used to do mung beans a lot, but havent in a while. I tried it out with barley, but it didnt work. After the initial soak, I usually just keep them in a huge, wide bowl or a 2ish inch deep tupperware and put enough water to almost cover them, lay a papper towel over them, and check on them/change the water a couple times a day. No equipment needed!
    Have you tried it with chickpeas? I think that will be my next adventure

    Katie Reply:

    Erin,
    Nope, not chickpeas yet. I bet the skins would come right off, especially if you brought them to a rolling boil (worked for my lentils fairly well). Fun! :) Katie

  • Lenetta @ Nettacow

    Linked. Thanks!
    .-= Lenetta @ Nettacow´s last blog ..40 Bags Update – Bags 34 – 44 =-.

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    [...] Sprouting I’ve read the research. I’ve heard people say it’s good. I just cannot bring myself to do it. It just … looks … weird. I”d never be able to eat after seeing it sprouted. [...]

  • Sarah W

    Do you know whether it matters if the seeds are in sunlight or not?

    Katie Reply:

    Sarah,
    As far as I know, sunlight would add chlorophyll, which adds value to your little sprouts. They have to get long enough though – so for sandwich sprouts, sun is helpful, but rice not so much. Make sense? :) Katie

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    [...] back to the sprouting. I got the idea and the instructions from this post on the Kitchen Stewardship blog. Why try this at all? My initial reason was just for my own [...]

  • Heather

    Just going back and reading your info about soy and lentils. The Food for Life people use sprouted soybeans in most of their bread products. I thought that if the soy was fermented or sprouted it was okay-that is what I learned in my Nourishing Traditions class. They also taught us how to make the lentils. I’d like to ask my holistic nutritionist what her thoughts are about the phtates in the lentils. I just made my first batch of both sunflower and lentil sprouts. Another great thing that I’ve come across…if I eat a tablespoon of my lacto-fermented veggies (sauerkraut) before I eat any gassy veggie like cauliflower or broccoli, it is magic-NO GAS:)!

  • CasualCrafter

    My new favorite blog! I have gotten quite lazy with sprouting since my lasy babe (6 months). On Wednesdy, I gave my 6-year old the assignment of “sproutng”. I found a children’s science book, a glass jar, a strainer, and some sunflower seeds and told him to “get it done”. Today I read your blog and will follow his lead and sprout my what berries! Thank you.

  • shannon

    Hi Katie. After you linked up to this post for your Monday Mission, I re-read it and decided to start lentils and chia seeds last night. So far so good with the lentils but I don’t think chia seeds can be sprouted. Do you know? The water in the chia seeds turned into a gelatinous blob and I couldn’t strain the water it was so think. I’m guessing it’s because they are so high in fiber?

    Katie Reply:

    Shannon,
    That’s a great question. I think there’s some weird issue with chia seeds being high in such-and-such anyway if and when you could sprout them, so I’d just leave that one alone! Those are a good flax/egg type substitute, aren’t they, because of that gelatinous property? Glad the lentils are at least going well! ;) Katie

  • shannon

    I meant “thick” not “think”!

  • Lisa

    Katie,

    Do you soak your sprouted lentils in acidified water (such as whey water) to lessen the impact of the phylates? Have you tried sprouting lentils in whey water? Wonder if they could even sprout in that media?

    Peace,
    Lisa

    Katie Reply:

    Lisa,
    Actually, I don’t soak any legumes in an acid medium, as it makes them tougher to cook. Best practice, even for phytic acid reduction, is a 12-hour soak in 140F water. As for sprouting, no need for the acid because the sprouting itself reduces the phytic acid. :) Katie

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  • Michael

    Unfortunately I signed up for your monthly e-mail before I read this article.

    You stated,”UPDATE: I just read this: “Soy and kidney bean sprouts are toxic and should be avoided. Sprouted lentils, black eyed beans, partridge peas, peanuts and vetch retain phytates which cause poor digestion and gas,” here, and although the author doesn’t source his post, he’s right about many of his facts.

    He is also wrong aboy many of his “facts”. Haven’t you ever seen soy sprouts in a store? Do some research before you feed your readers drivel.

    Katie Reply:

    Michael,
    We hate to lose you, but this seems like a pretty minor deal. If the worst thing I’ve ever told anyone is to cook kidney bean sprouts well, I guess I’ll sleep alright tonight. ??? Folks can do their own checking into sources as well…for example, I don’t eat soy at all if I can help it to avoid phytoestrogens and omega-6s, so soy sprouts are wayyyyy off my list.
    Thanks for contributing to the conversation – Katie

  • Cynthia via Facebook

    Just sprouted some buckewheat groats. I too had gotten out of habit. Lentils are next.

  • Shauna

    I started soaking a whole bag of lentils without reading all the directions for Dosas in Everything Beans. Finally decided to start over (they had soaked 2 days), and try sprouting them to salvage them. Loving them in my salads and wraps, but I tried them in Dosas (not dehydrated first) and ended up with a gooey mess. Too much moisture to cook properly. Lesson learned!

  • Rebecca via Facebook

    We have talked about it but have yet to get there.

  • Rebecca via Facebook

    Where do you find spelt? I have a hard time finding in flour as it but my mom might do better with it sprouted.

  • Kate via Facebook

    Frozen sprouted lentils! What a good idea!

  • via Facebook

    A few years ago we bought a sprout machine (pricey, but well worth it since we grow A LOT of sprouts) http://www.discountjuicers.com/easygreen.html I never thought of freezing them! They’re a perfect add-on when you’re low on veggies.

  • via Facebook

    Didnt know you could freeze them.

  • Liz H.

    Another reader weighing in on the soy sprouts. Dr. Robert O. Young sells a low-temp. dehydrated powder made from sprouted soy. I’ve heard both sides of the phyto-estrogen issue. I’ve heard that they’re relatively weak estrogens which bind to the receptors thus preventing damaging xeno estrogens from binding to those receptors. Then I’ve heard that the phyto-estrogens are to be avoided. Personally, I try not to consume soy at least until I have the time to research it better.

  • Michelle Isla

    Hi Katie, I’m new to the idea of getting conscious about grain consumption and I admit that I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed :-/ I’m learning a lot through your site so I thank you for having it! I want to know what the verdict is on sprouting legumes. I followed your link to the guy who says its either toxic or that they still retain much of their phytates, I may write him and ask for his sources. I’m just confused and wondering whether I should not sprout them but soak them or whether any of it makes a difference. I read your post with the link to the rapid fermentation for brown rice so I’m good there but I’m wondering what to do with lentils, black beans, and kidney beans which I’ve tended to consume quite a bit in the past.

    As a vegetarian of 10 yrs, raising a vegetarian daughter, I’ve relied on grains and legumes A LOT to feed us. You can imagine how my mind is exploding right now since opening it up to all this new information about whether we even should be eating these as frequently as we have been! I’ve started eating some organic free range chicken and real butter again but transitioning my daughter is proving to be challenging. She’s 6 now and doesn’t understand why I would want her to eat an animal when she hasn’t eaten one all her life. That’s a whole other issue, I’m digressing…LOL. Anyway, I would love your input on legumes for now. Later I will learn more about other grains and learn how to use them for baking, etc. I also ‘liked’ your FB page so hopefully I’ll continue to learn through that. To my surprise, several of my friends had already ‘liked’ your page :-). Thanks again Katie!

    Katie @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Hi Michelle!
    Welcome aboard! With so many transitions, I can imagine the pressure this puts on your brain. :)

    I can’t say that I’ve learned much more about soaking and sprouting after this post, although sprouting, to me, makes an awful lot of sense. That said, I usually don’t sprout my legumes in advance, but always slow soak and slow cook them. We do what we can! Listening to YOUR body will really help and trusting what feels right.

    In the past year or two, our family has really cut down on grains in general, since so much information on how harmful they *might* be keeps coming at me. In a lot of ways, it’s easier just to skip them – then I don’t have to worry about soaking or sprouting or wondering which is best! I’d say work on making homemade chicken stock as a big step in the right direction – it’s so healthful and might ease your daughter into meat products. (?)

    At some point, you might want to do an elimination diet or cleanse, because at the end of that, when reintroducing things like grains and legumes, you will really notice more what effect they have on your body.

    Good luck!

    :) Katie

  • Krysta

    Reading up on the kidney beans- I have them and black beans sprouting now.
    Apparently the toxin is present with them raw (the link you posted was a raw-foodie) and to destroy the toxin you discard the soaking water (if not sprouting), wash and boil for 10min in fresh water, then cook like normal. According to this guy: http://davesgarden.com/guides/articles/view/2385/
    Thoughts?

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Krysta,

    As far as I know, cooking the kidney beans will fix the problem completely, and I can’t imagine eating them just sprouted…too crunchy for me! :) Katie

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Welcome!  Meet Katie.

I embrace butter. I make homemade yogurt. I eat traditional real food – plants and animals that God created, not products of plants where food scientists work. Here at Kitchen Stewardship, I share how I strive to be a good steward of my family's nutrition, the environment, and our budget, all without spending every second in the kitchen. Learn more about the mission of KS here.

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