Sprouting Seeds, Legumes and Grains

Sprouting (the transitional stage between seed and plant) is the practice of soaking, draining and then rinsing seeds, legumes and grains at regular intervals until they germinate, or sprout. Sprouts are rich in fiber, digestible energy, bio-available (essentially refers to how much of an ingested substance ends up being absorbed by our bodies) vitamins, minerals, amino acids, proteins, beneficial enzymes and phytochemicals, since all of these goodies are necessary for a germinating plant to grow. These nutrients are also essential for human health.

Sprouts are not only fresh, cleansing, alive nutritional powerhouses, but they are inexpensive to produce (quickly and easily) and most can be eaten raw which is optimal since they are bursting with vitamins and beneficial enzymes. Simply add them to salads like a Red Leaf and Candied Walnut Salad or you can cook them for dishes like Mixed Vegetable Curry with Brown Basmati Rice.

Pauline Lloyd from The Vegan News sums up sprouts beautifully, “For the first few days of its life a baby plant—or sprout—is not capable of feeding itself and is sustained entirely on nutrients contained in the seed, the equivalent of mother’s milk. These nutrients only become usable when the seed starts to sprout. During sprouting, the seed’s enzymes convert stored inactive nutrients into a sort of nutritional superfuel which allows the sprout to grow very rapidly during the early days of its life. Proteins are thus converted into amino acids by enzymes known as proteases, fats into essential fatty acids by lipases and starches into simple sugars by amylases. Sprouts are essentially a pre-digested food, the seed’s own enzymes having already done most of the hard work.”

There are several methods for sprouting.
We all have a glass jar at home, right? This is the most common and inexpensive method—the one we use 90% of the time. You can also use a Sprouting Tray,
a Hemp Sprout Bag, or soil. Once you sprout a few times, you will be hooked—it is so easy and fun. Not to mention, you will feel incredible once you start eating sprouts more regularly.

First you should soak your seeds, legumes and/or grains according to the chart below before transferring to one of the sprouting methods. Some people like to add a little salt to the water before soaking to help speed up the process. After soaking, be sure to rinse seeds, legumes and grains thoroughly with fresh pure water until it runs clear to remove the enzyme inhibitors that have been released into the water. It is also recommended to rinse soaking seeds, legumes and grains 2-3 times during the soak. Watercress seeds and chia seeds turn mucilaginous when soaked. Visit the SproutPeople for loads of detailed information about standard and unique seeds, legumes and grains and the methods for sprouting them all.


There are some opinions about sprouts and toxicity out there, like the universal—kidney beans should not be eaten in a sprouted state, only cooked. Many of the other opinions involve commercially grown sprouts. So, if you buy, buy organic. Ultimately, save money and have fun by growing your own.

The step-by-step sprouting process:
Rinse your seeds, legumes and/or grains very well. Lentils and Quinoa shown here.

Sprouting Seeds, Legumes and Psuedograins

Transfer them to a glass jar. Fill jar with pure water and secure the top with a cheesecloth and rubber band. Allow them to soak for the amount of time indicated in the chart below.

Sprouting Seeds, Legumes and Psuedograins

Look how cute and happy they are. So much potential.

Sprouting Seeds, Legumes and Psuedograins

After they have soaked, rinse very well and place back in jar secured with cheesecloth and rubber band.

Sprouting Seeds, Legumes and Psuedograins

Place in a room temperature location, away from direct sunlight. Rinse 1-2 times a day. At the end of day one, your sprouts should look like this:

Sprouting Seeds, Legumes and Psuedograins Day 1

Ooooh, Day Two. Rinse your sprouts 1-2 time a day.

Sprouting Seeds, Legumes and Psuedograins Day 2

Day Three sprouts are usually ready to “harvest” a.k.a. eat. Yay!

Sprouting Seeds, Legumes and Psuedograins Day 3

Quinoa grains are adorbs.

Sprouting Seeds, Legumes and Psuedograins

Name Start Amount Soak Time Sprout Time Amount Harvested Method Sprout Shelf Life Tastes Like
ADZUKI 1 cup 24 hrs 2-5 days 2 cups Tray or Jar 2-6 weeks Beanie
ALFALFA 3 tsp 8 hrs 2-5 days 6-8 cups Tray or Jar 2-6 weeks Mild, Crisp, Nutty
ALMOND 1 cup 8-12 hrs 1 day 2 cups Tray or Jar 1-2 weeks Almond
BARLEY 2 cups 12 hrs 2-4 days 6-8 cups Tray or Jar 1-2 weeks Mild
BROCCOLI 1 cup 8-12 hrs 5-6 days 1 cups Tray or Bag 1-2 weeks Mild
BUCKWHEAT 2 cups 8 hrs 1-2 days 2 cups Tray or Jar or Soil 1-2 weeks Nutty, Plump, Tender
CABBAGE 3 tsp 6-8 hrs 2-5 days 2 cups Jar 2-6 weeks Mild, Sweet, Cabbage
CHICKPEAS 1 cup 12 hrs 2-4 days 1-2 cups Tray or Jar 2-6 weeks Earthy, Crunchy
FENUGREEK 4 tsp 8 hrs 2-5 days 2-4 cups Tray or Jar 3-4 weeks Spicy, Bitter
GREEN PEAS 2 cups 12 hrs 2-3 days 4-6 cups Tray or Jar 2-6 weeks Delicious
KAMUT 2 cups 6-8 hrs 2-3 days 2 cups Sprouter or Jar or Bag 1-2 weeks Sweet
LENTILS 1 cup 8-12 hrs 2-4 days 3-4 cups Tray or Jar 2-6 weeks Crunchy, Sweet, Delicious
MILLET 1 cup 12 hrs 2-4 days 1-2 cups Jar 1-2 weeks Slightly Bitter
MUNG BEANS 1 cup 24 hrs 2-5 days 2-3 cups Tray or Jar (Dark) 2-6 weeks Crisp, Sweet, Watery
MUSTARD 3 Tbsp 8 hrs 2-7 days 2 cups Jar 1 weeks Horseradish
OAT GROAT 2 cups 8-12 hrs 2-3 days 3 cups Tray or Jar 1-2 weeks Tender, Mild, Sweet
QUINOA 1 cup 6-8 hrs 1-2 days 1-2 cups Jar 1-2 weeks Slightly Bitter
RADISH 3 tsp 8 hrs 2-4 days 3-4 cups Jar 2-6 weeks Spicy
RED CLOVER 2 tsp 8 hrs 2-5 days 3-4 cups Tray or Jar 2-6 weeks Mild
RICE 1 cup 12 hrs 3-5 days 1-2 cups Jar 1-2 weeks Cook or Tough
RYE 1 cup 8-12 hrs 2-4 days 1-2 cups Tray or Jar 1-2 weeks Sweet, Wheat
SESAME 1 cup 8 hrs 1-2 days 1 cups Jar 1 week Bitter
SUNFLOWER 2 cups 6-8 hrs 1-3 days 2-4 cups Tray or Jar or Soil 1-2 weeks Succulent, Sweet
TRITICALE 1 cup 12 hrs 2-3 days 1-2 cups Jar or Sprouter weeks1-2 Nutty, Rye
WATERCRESS 1 cup Do Not Soak 2-5 days 2-4 cups Soil or Tray or Bag 1-2 weeks Spicy, Peppery
WHEAT 1 cup 8-12 hrs 2-4 days 1-2 cups Trayor Jar or Soil 1-2 weeks Sweet

Read the comments or add yours.

Comment Rules

  1. Sprouted for the first time this week. How fun and easy. Thanks for encouraging me to do it finally. I used a Now Foods sprouting jar. Under $6 @wholefoodschi. http://su.pr/22ljhY

    • Hi Denise: I definitely eat those hulls. So glad you now know how easy and fun sprouting is. Tip: save a variety of wide mouth glass jars (small, medium and large) from other foods that you buy for not only for more sprouting adventures, but for storing sauces, lemon juice, homemade nut/seed milks and more. It saves $$ and you get to feel good about reusing those jars. Save your jar lids too and/or buy a cheesecloth and cut off a square to create a rubberbanded lid for your sprout jars when you need them. Keep up the sprouting and share what you discover…

  2. Also, the hulls of my lentil sprouts didn’t float off like I thought they would. If grown long enough (past 4 days), they may fall off more easily. Found out it’s ok to leave lentil hulls on as they add fiber. (http://su.pr/2CabgG)

  3. I’m totally new to this…actually just researching it. Do you dehydrate the grains or just use them as is? How about nuts? Do those need to be dehydrated?

    • Brandy~
      First, high-five on doing the research about sprouting. I know how overwhelming it all can be. It’s important to know that while you can sprout nuts, you don’t have to. It is most important, for quality nutrient assimilation, to remove the enzyme inhibitors that are naturally on nuts—this is done with soaking. Sprouting of nuts, is not only difficult, but unnecessary for nutritional benefits.

      So, it all depends upon how you will be using your sprouts and what texture is necessary. In a salad, fresh sprouts are delicious, sweet and crunchy. When making homemade gluten-free flours for pancakes, etc. you can use dehydrated or fresh sprouts.

      The water in nuts, grains, seeds and legumes will contribute to the natural rotting process, so dehydration (removal of water) keeps sprouts enzymatically active, but with a longer shelf life (you may notice at health food stores now, they are selling dried sprouted grains, legumes, etc.). I tend to soak/sprout grains and nuts, dehydrate them and store them in an airtight jar in my pantry so I am always ready to prepare what I want without the major time investment. Also, preparing them myself ensures that they are dried at enzyme-friendly temps (under 100°F). Oftentimes, for legume sprouts and psuedograins (ex: quinoa), I usually eat them fresh. They sprout quickly, with minimal effort and keep in the fridge for about a week so I can use as needed. Let me know if I can help with anything else in particular, like certain recipes, etc. Good luck.

  4. Dixie

    Some sites recommend filtered water. Is culinary tap water okay to use?

    Thanks, I am new to this.

    • Heather Crosby

      Hi Dixie,
      Great question. You really just want to use the cleanest water you can for soaking/sprouting since the little sprouts will take in everything in the water (the good and the bed). I have a filter on my faucet since I use this technique so often, and I know folks who pick up some spring water at the store to keep on hand for soaking (which I will do when traveling). If you only have access to tap water though, it’s better to get sproutin’ than to not, so use tap. Maybe for “insurance”, boil the water first, and allow it to cool to room temp, before soaking. Have fun and hope that helps.

  5. Janine

    I am exited to try sprouting. I am confused on how to proceed after my legumes have sprouted. Do I pull the sprout off if each bean and eat the sprout raw? Do I then cook the legime like I normally would? Do I consume the legume and sprout together raw?

    • Heather Crosby

      Sprouting is so easy and fun, I bet YU will love it—there aren’t too many rules besides no kidney bean sprouts (toxic). You can eat that little sprout with the entire legume, no need to pull it off. When cooking, you can cook the entire thing according to the instructions for unsprouted, just know that your cooking time may be less with sprouts. And you may need a tad less water. Experiment and have fun.

  6. If you are sprouting for:breaking down the enzymes,extra protein wouldn’t cooking lessen the value of your effort?

    • Heather Crosby

      Yes, Safari, thanks for pointing this out. 🙂 Cooking/heat can diminish nutrients for some foods (and enhance it in others, particularly certain vegetables), but no matter how one enjoys these foods (some folks in need of more plant-based foods in their diet don’t enjoy raw), it’s best to soak no matter what so the available nutrients that are consumed can be assimilated into the body. x H

  7. I have found that when you do your first rinse(important)to use the drain off to water your house plants,put into compost or mix it in to your pets meals.

  8. natalie

    I have just discovered sprouting and purchased a sprout lid with a bag of assorted sprouting seeds. I stumbled onto your website while searching for ways to get started and was fascinated by the idea of sprouting lentils, quinoa, and chickpeas…I had no idea! I’m curious how to use them once they have sprouted? Do you eat them raw in a salad or are they necessary to be cooked? Great tip on using the leftover water for plants which I plan to take outside to my garden.

    • Heather Crosby

      Hi Natalie,
      Raw sprouts are going to have the most enzyme power, and you can eat them plain, tossed with dressings or spices, added to wraps and salads or enjoy them with a simple squeeze of lemon juice and a pinch of sea salt and fresh ground pepper. I love sprouted lentils, mung beans and buckwheat raw and tend to cook sprouted chickpeas (which will diminish some beneficial enzymes) since I find their raw flavor a tad too earthy—but definitely try them raw or in the suggestions above because everyone is different. They don’t need to be cooked, but the flavors change when they are. Raw sprouts are usually sweeter and once cooked they are meatier. Lentils also get a nice peppery-ness to them once cooked. My best suggestion is to play and see what you like best! Enjoy, H

  9. susan

    Ive purchased sprouted lentils from Whole Foods that had salt and vinegar on them. Awesome snack for my son with diet issues. What is the process they used in order for the lentils to be bagged and on the shelf?
    Do I need to rinse, sprout for necessary time and then bake in oven like I do with chick peas?
    How would I add flavoring thanks

    • Heather Crosby

      Hi Susan. My guess is that they sprout them, season them then dehydrate them. Once all the water is removed, sprouted legumes, nuts, seeds, etc. are shelf stable. I would try the following (check out this post, too):
      1. Soak over night in water
      2. Drain, rinse and cover with a towel to sprout 1-3 days.
      3. Toss with seasoning and dry out completely at the lowest oven temp you can (or dehydrate)

      Let us know how it works!

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