Friday, July 6, 2012

Sprouting Basics


When I first began thinking in terms of serious prepping, I considered my gardening options. Here in the wilds of Wyoming, we have a very short growing season. In my particular situation, I also live at 7,000 feet altitude. It can snow any day of the year.  Even though it is now early July, we can end up with nights in the high thirties or low forties.  It can literally snow any day of the year up here.

My situation is compounded by the fact that I do not own my own property. I live in a rental trailer and have no room for a garden.  I asked myself how I could provide myself with fresh greens in the dead of winter when the grocery store prices are too high for me to afford. 

I realized that one could sprout seeds at a kitchen window even in the dead of winter.  Another advantage of sprouting seeds is that they are compact and easily stored.You only sprout a tablespoon full at a time. These seeds will keep for years.I store mine in a food-safe plastic bucket in the closet.

I searched on-line to find a company that would sell me seeds for sprouting. You can also find them in health food stores.

Linda’s Note:  Do not use gardening seeds unless you produce your own.  Many commercially packaged seeds are chemically or genetically treated with pesticides and things that can be harmful if you eat them.  Look for a source of seeds specifically produced for sprouting for human consumption.

Linda’s note:  one of the best advantages of sprouts is that the nutrients are super-charged.  For some reason, they have far more nutrients at this stage of growth than at any other.  Vitamin C is especially rich in most sprouts. Additionally, the protein content in sprouted beans is much higher.

My favorite sprouting seeds are:
  • Alfalfa
  • Broccoli
  • Clover
  • Radish
  • Sesame
  • lentils
  • Sunflower
Personally, I don’t particularly care for mung bean sprouts, but many people love them, especially for oriental dishes.  I prefer fine thin sprouts which are ideal to add to sandwiches or toss into salads. You can get just about any kind seeds you like. Even bean seeds can be sprouted. 

Linda’s Sprouting Kit

I've played around with all sorts of sprouting gadgets over the years before finally settling on a system that works best for me.  You should consider the needs of your own family before deciding what, if anything, to purchase.

My kit consists of:
  • Sprouting device
  • Seed soaking cups – a mason jar or a drinking glass works just fine if that’s all you have
  • Measuring spoon
  • Labels for seeds when they are growing (sometimes you can’t tell them apart). I use little plastic markers.  Tape on the side of the container also works just fine.
Linda’s Take on Sprouters:

Sprout Master

When sprouting seeds, all you need is some way to keep those seeds moist while letting excess water drain out. 
  • It can be as simple as a nylon mesh bag that you rinse under running water and let hang. 
  • You can find plastic lids with various sizes of mesh to fit over the top of mason jars. Put the seeds inside, fill it with water and rinse, then turn the jar over to allow excess water to drain out. 
  • You can take an old nylon stocking and attach it to the top of a jar with a rubber band and use it for straining your soaked seeds.
  • There are all sorts of stackable plastic gadgets for sprouting and draining your seeds.  I once had a round green gadget with four stackable trays. You pour water in the top and it trickles through to the next tray until it eventually gets to the bottom.  I didn’t like this one because it washed seeds into the little drain spout. They got stuck there and invariably produced mold.
  • Some units were so large that my sprouts would go bad before I could use them all.
I finally settled on the Sprout Master System.  It comes in small and large sized trays.  I purchased four sets of the small trays.

  • Each tray has a divider so you can do half as much if you want.
  • The lids have a lip for easy stacking and storage in the refrigerator
  • They are small enough that I can produce just enough for one week.  In about four days I start the next batch. That way I can keep a constant flow of greens growing.
  • There are no fussy little thingies attached. It’s a simple rectangular box with a grid on the bottom. Super easy to clean. I’ve never had a mold problem with these.
Linda’s Note:  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again.  Don’t be in too much of a hurry.  Check your local thrift store regularly.  Who knows what will show up.  Thank goodness for people who buy things without finding out what to do with them or how to use them!  

The large sprouting box with the label on it is much more expensive than the smaller sets.  The only reason I have it is because I found it in the thrift store for $1.00.  I bought it “just in case” I might need to do a large batch some time, although it wasn’t necessary.   

How to Sprout:
Soak those seeds

 The first thing to do is soak your seeds. I found tiny portion cups with lids at the dollar store.  They are just the right size for a tablespoon or so of seeds. Measure out your seeds and put one in each cup. Fill the cup with water, snap on the lid, and give it a shake to make sure all the seeds are wet. 

Let them soak overnight.

Next Day

Usually by the next day the seeds have swollen to about double their size and are ready to grow.  Rinse the seeds thoroughly and place them in the sprouter.  I prefer to use labels so I can keep track of which is what. 

Growth begins

By the next day you should see tiny roots emerging. Two or three times a day just take the trays and rinse them under the faucet. Give them a little shake to get rid of the excess moisture and place them on their lids. It keeps water from dripping on your counter.

Two days later

Within a few days, there is a definite change. Depending on the variety, you will begin to see touches of green.

One week later

One week later mine are only at this stage.  At first I couldn’t figure out what was wrong, because normally, by this time the trays are nearly full of sprouts.  Then I realized this was December. And it’s 8 degrees outside.  To conserve on heating fuel, we allow the temperature to drop into the fifties in our house (even lower at night).  I am convinced that because of the cold, it significantly slowed down the growing process. 

In any case, it took several more days before they fully matured.  Even so, this is an economical way to get vitamin rich nutrients and fresh veggies even in the dead of winter.

What to do with sprouts:
  • Eat them fresh in a salad
  • Use them instead of lettuce on a sandwich
  • Use them in baking breads
  • Bean sprouts
    • Add to salads
    • Sauté them in stir fry dishes
    • Dehydrate bean sprouts for future use


  1. Hello Linda ;

    I am a new ; well a renewed ; sprouter ... I love my SproutMaster too. I fussed with jars a number of times over the years. Thanks for putting such a lovely pictorial instruction together. I refer to this page on my site.

    Cheryl at cthepower dot org

    1. HI Cheryl, Thanks for the support! I'm so glad you are enjoying the site. What are your favorite things to sprout and how do you use them?