Learn how to grow sprouts with your kids and experience the delight of growing this superfood, packed with essential nutrients, right in the comfort of your own home.
Estimated reading time: 19 minutes
What are sprouts?
Sprouts are young shoots that emerge from seeds and are known for their impressive nutrient density. They offer a refreshing and crisp texture, along with a range of flavors, making them a versatile ingredient to have on hand.
Sprouts have become popular among people who want to add nutritionally rich foods to their diet or include a special ingredient to their meal plan. I use sprouts to make our salads, sandwiches and stir-fries healthier. Plus, the kids love the crunch and fresh taste.
Why we grow sprouts at home
We started growing sprouts at home about seven years ago. It began as part of our off grid homeschooling activities.
We had already been growing beans indoors through the winter. So it was easy to grab some of those black beans off the plants and sprout them.
We grew bean sprouts in jars, and my then-three-year-old was fascinated. Come to think of it, so was I. It brought back great memories of growing bean sprouts in mason jars with my grandmother many years ago.
We then moved on to growing sprouts in trays, starting with alfalfa sprouts. Love those alfalfa sprouts on my scrambled eggs and for topping my egg bites.
To date, we’ve grown the following sprouts from seeds:
- Broccoli sprouts
- Alfalfa sprouts
- Bean sprouts
- Lentil sprouts
- Mustard sprouts
Sprouts are a nutritional powerhouse, offering various health benefits that make them a strong addition to any diet. These tiny shoots are packed with essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
Sprouts are an excellent source of fiber, which aids in digestion and promotes a healthy gut. Additionally, they are known for their high levels of vitamin C, which provides a natural boost to the immune system.
Even better, they're rich in enzymes, promoting better nutrient absorption and supporting overall well-being. With their low-calorie content and high nutrient profile, growing your own sprouts gives you a guilt-free way to enhance your meals while nourishing your body.
Choosing seeds for sprouting
The "experts" will tell you that choosing the right seeds for sprouting is crucial in ensuring success when growing sprouts. And they'll say you must select high-quality, organic seeds intended for sprouting. Yet the kids and I have had great luck growing sprouts at home from all sorts of seeds.
Some of the seeds were meant for growing microgreens. Or even planting in the garden. Our mustard seed sprouts were delicious, for example.
Popular seeds for sprouting include alfalfa, mung beans, broccoli, radish, and clover seeds. Think about your taste preferences and desired texture when making your selection.
Whether you prefer a mild and crunchy sprout or a more robust and peppery one, you'll find the right seed variety with some experimenting. Remember to source your seeds from trusted suppliers to ensure their freshness and purity.
To get started sprouting you'll need a few essential items to make the process smooth and efficient. Here's what you'll need:
- A wide-mouth jar or bowl for the initial soaking of the seeds to allow room for the seeds to expand as they soak.
- A mesh lid, also known as a sprouting lid, when using a jar, or a coffee filter or even cheesecloth secured with a rubber band, when using a bowl comes in handy for the sprouting process. We made our own DIY sprouting lids with some plastic canvas.
- Consider investing in a sprouting stand to hold the jar upside-down while the sprouts grow. This optional accessory helps optimize the sprouting process.
- If you plan to sprout different seeds simultaneously, a tiered seed sprouter can be a practical solution. It allows you to separate the seeds while sprouting them together, providing convenience and organization.
Having these sprouting essentials on hand will ensure that you have the necessary tools to grow healthy and delicious sprouts in your kitchen.
How to Grow Sprouts at Home
As mentioned above, you’ll find a couple of different ways to grow sprouts at home. We typically use the jar method.
The tray method is similar and does give you many more sprouts. However, it also takes up a ton of counter space.
How to Grow Sprouts with the Jar Method
When it comes to sprouting, the jar method is the way to go if you plan on consuming the sprouts. It's the most hygienic approach. And it also minimizes the risk of bacteria growth. Follow these steps to sprout seeds using the jar method successfully:
- Begin by thoroughly cleaning all equipment with hot soapy water, ensuring everything is squeaky clean. It's also important to rinse the seeds thoroughly before starting the sprouting process.
- Find the perfect spot in your home for sprouting. Ideally, it should be a well-lit and airy area, away from direct sunlight. You need good airflow for healthy sprout growth.
- To kickstart germination, soak the seeds in water. Place the seeds in a bowl or jar, and add around three times as much water as there are seeds. Let the bowl sit in a dark spot at room temperature for at least eight to twelve hours.
- After soaking, drain the soaking water, then rinse the seeds two to three times daily with cool water until they sprout. This rinsing process is crucial as it prevents bacterial growth. Maintain a temperature of around 68 F (20 C) during sprouting — warm but not too hot.
- While waiting for the seeds to sprout, keep seeds in a jar or container, but ensure they are not too tightly packed. They should remain damp but not overly wet.
- Once sprouted, it's time to harvest them. Most sprouts are ready to harvest after two to three days but feel free to harvest them whenever you're happy with their size and appearance. Give them a final rinse and drain them thoroughly.
- Before storing, dry the sprouts. Wrap them in a muslin or tea towel, gently patting them dry. After drying, transfer them to a storage container in the refrigerator.
- Depending on the type of sprout, your homegrown sprouts will keep in the fridge for five days to six weeks.
I tend to grow sprouts in winter. They're like a taste of summer in the dark, cold days.
Growing Sprouts in Trays
For larger quantities, try growing your sprouts in trays. Here’s why trays might be your preferred choice:
- Larger Volume: Trays accommodate more seeds, so you get a greater yield.
- Variety: Use different sections of the tray for various seeds.
- Even Growth: Trays allow for a more uniform spread of seeds, leading to even sprouting.
To grow sprouts from seeds using the seed starter tray method, start by spread seeds evenly across the tray. Keep the tray in a well-ventilated area. Water or spray the sprouts gently to maintain consistent moisture.
I cover the sprouts with damp paper towels or cheesecloth and spray through that.
Use sprouts to top egg dishes, add to wraps, or in salads. Eat them raw, enjoy them lightly cooked, or blended into dishes.
You'll find endless possibilities for using sprouts in your meals. Here are some popular ideas for using and enjoying sprouts:
- Add sprouts to your favorite salads for a refreshing crunch and a boost of nutrients.
- Top off your sandwiches with a generous handful of sprouts for an added layer of texture and flavor.
- Add sprouts into wraps or tacos for a vibrant and nutritious twist.
- Stir-fry sprouts along with your favorite vegetables for a colorful and nutrient-packed side dish.
- Blend sprouts into smoothies for a hidden dose of greens and added texture.
- Use sprouts as a topping for soups or stews to add a fresh element.
- Sprinkle sprouts over avocado toast, pizza or bruschetta for an extra layer of taste and visual appeal.
- Mix sprouts into omelets or scrambled eggs for a nutritious breakfast.
- Create a wholesome and satisfying Buddha bowl by combining sprouts with grains, roasted vegetables, and a flavorful dressing.
- Mix sprouts into sushi rolls for a unique and healthy twist on traditional rolls.
We find experimenting with different sprout varieties a fun wayto discover new flavor combinations.
Growing Sprouts with Children: A Homeschool Activity
Try growing sprouts with kids at home if you want a fun hands-on activity. We believe teaching our children as many self-reliance skills as possible is important, and learning how to grow sprouts is an easy one to start with.
That’s also why they helped us build our off grid chicken coop. And also why we started growing sprouts indoors with them.
Introducing sprout growing as a homeschool activity offers many educational and developmental benefits.
Benefits of Growing Sprouts with Kids
Here are a few more benefits of growing sprouts with kids — actually, these benefits apply to adults as well!
- Learning science: Children observe the life cycle of a plant, from seed germination to sprouting.
- Responsibility: Caring for sprouts teaches children about responsibility and routine.
- Nutrition Education: It’s a practical way to educate children about the importance of healthy eating.
Engaging Children in Sprout Growing
When I decided to teach my daughter how to grow sprouts at home, she was just three years old. And that was a perfect age.
Even if you’re homeschooling a preschooler or kindergarten child, they can help in the following ways:
- Selecting Seeds: Involve them in choosing the seeds, fostering a sense of ownership.
- Daily Care: Assign them the task of rinsing and draining the sprouts.
- Observation Log: Encourage them to keep a daily log of the sprout growth, enhancing their observational skills.
FAQs About Growing Sprouts
You have questions. We have answers!
What Is the Best Method for Beginners to Grow Sprouts?
For beginners, jar sprouting is recommended. It’s simple, requires minimal equipment, and is a great way to learn the basics of sprout growing.
Can Sprouts Be Grown All Year Round?
Yes, sprouts can be grown indoors all year round. We grow them in the dead of winter in our off grid home. They don’t depend on seasonal changes, making them a perfect continuous source of fresh greens.
Are My Sprouts Safe to Eat?
To ensure safety, always use seeds intended for sprouting. And maintain cleanliness throughout the growing process. Remember to rinse the sprouts thoroughly before eating them.
By the way, cut sprouts get moldy pretty quickly if you store them in the fridge. (Ask me how I know.)
By exploring jar and tray methods of growing sprouts and involving children in the process, you can turn sprout cultivation into a fun, rewarding and educational experience. Whether for personal enjoyment or as a family activity, growing sprouts is an excellent addition to a self-reliant, off-grid lifestyle.