How to Sprout Beans, Grains and Seeds

Sprouts are good for you. — me

I tried to find a credible source to cite for the nutritional benefits of consuming sprouts. My search results listed page after page of blog posts touting the benefits of sprouts and sprouting. Although I do believe sprouting provides health benefits, I can’t cite just anyone, especially another blogger. Most of us are just average people with a keyboard and an Internet connection, not experts, myself included.

I know some bloggers here in America have risen to dizzyingly heights of power previously unheard of. By this logic, as a food blogger, I now qualify for the position of US Secretary of Agriculture. But I still prefer to cite credible sources that base their information on facts and research. The best online sources I found on sprout nutrition came from WebMD and SF Gate

Then I pulled my trusty copy of Nourishing Traditions off the bookshelf (good old books…). According to author Sally Fallon:

The process of germination not only produces vitamin C but also changes the composition of grain and seeds in numerous beneficial ways. Sprouting increases vitamin B content, especially B2, B5 and B6. Carotene increases dramatically—sometimes eightfold. Even more important, sprouting neutralizes phytic acid, a substance presence in the bran of all grains that inhibits absorption of calcium, magnesium, iron, copper and zinc.

Sprouting is very easy and you don’t need to buy any fancy equipment. You can splurge on a special sprouting lid for mason jars or simply use one of the following to sprout your soaked beans, grains and seeds:

  • A jar with a piece of cheesecloth secured to the lid
  • A colander covered with a plate
  • A pie dish covered with a plate

For this post, I used a pie plate covered with a plate.

The steps are simple too:

  • Soak overnight
  • Rinse and drain twice a day
  • Wait 2 to 4 days for tails to grow at least the length of the bean, grain or seed
  • When ready, refrigerate sprouts for up to a week

By the way, sprouting makes a great science lesson for kids.

To cook or not to cook sprouts?

I have been eating my sprouts raw in salads or even just by the handful as I pack my finished product into a container for the refrigerator. But Sally Fallon warns against “overconsumption of raw sprouted grains as raw sprouts contain irritating substances that keep animals from eating the tender shoots. These substances are neutralized in cooking. Sprouted grains should usually be eaten lightly steamed or added to soups and casseroles.”

The FDA (I’m waiting for that job offer any day now…) warns people against eating raw sprouts as they can harbor pathogens such as Salmonella, Listeria or E. coli. The agency has put out many recommendations on sprouted seedsfor industry. But keep in mind, the FDA has also stated that “Raw milk is inherently dangerous. It should not be consumed by anyone at any time for any purpose.

Perhaps I have the risk-taking gene. I’ll take my chances and continue to sprout my mung beans. (Maybe I’ll buy a Harley too.) Consider yourself forewarned of the dangers of producing your own food. (Do you think I’ll get that job?)

And now some pics.

french lentils soaking 20170204
French green lentils soaking
sprouting french lentils day 0
Very well-drained French green lentils spread out on a pie plate
kanye west water bottle quote
Cover the lentils with a dish. Artwork provided by my subversive teen.
sprouting French green lentils
French green lentils after one day of sprouting
Extreme closeup of French green lentils, day 1
French green lentils, day one
sprouting french lentils day 4
Four days of sprouting produced long tails
sprouted lentils
Another view of sprouted French green lentils
soaking mung beans
Overnight soak of mung beans
mung beans for sprouting
Well-drained mung beans spread out on a pie plate
sprouted mung beans
Sprouted mung beans day 4
sprouted mung beans
Ready-to-eat mung beans
jar of mung bean sprouts
Store beans in the refrigerator for up to a week

Sprouted Beans, Grains and Seeds

Sprouted Beans, Grains and Seeds


  • 1 cup sourdough starter, unfed and and room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 1 cup warm water (100° to 105° F)
  • 2 cups to 2 1/2 cups white flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 2 tablespoons course salt plus more for sprinkling
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • large pinch citric acid (optional)
  • large pinch ginger (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons baking soda


  1. Dissolve yeast and sugar in warm water and set aside for about 10 minutes, until yeast becomes foamy.
  2. Combine 2 cups white flour, whole wheat flour, salt and, if using, citric acid and ginger.
  3. Choose your sprouting "equipment." Place beans, grains or seeds in a jar with a piece of cheesecloth attached securely to the lid, in a colander covered with a plate and resting on another plate or spread across
  4. Wait 2 to 4 days for tails to grow at least the length of the bean, grain or seeWhen ready, refrigerate sprouts for up to a week.
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12 Comment

  1. Great information!
    I know not the same direction with sprouts, but have you ever (successfully) made Rejuvelac? I’ve been researching how to/uses of fermented cashews, almonds and using Rejuvelac for the fermentation comes up a lot.

    1. The Zero-Waste Chef says: Reply

      I have read about rejuvelac in The Art of Fermentation but have never tried it. I’d love to try making it. What are you going to do with your fermented nuts? Make nut cheese?

      1. Yes; also found recipes for “buttermilk”, “butter”, “sour cream” -all based on fermented cashews…

  2. Sprouting is faster when soaked overnight and tied into a tight bun using a muslin cloth for another 12 hours and placed in cool dry place.

    1. The Zero-Waste Chef says: Reply

      Thanks for the tip. I have lots of muslin. I’ll try this out.

  3. I’m going to sprout French lentils right now…and did you know that the soak water is like vitamin candy juice for plants? And it’s free.

    1. The Zero-Waste Chef says: Reply

      Oooh, that makes sense about plant candy juice. Thanks for the info! Enjoy your sprouts 🙂

  4. This MADE my week! I have had this jar of mung beans sitting on my kitchen shelves for forEVER (they must be a year old by now) because I somehow never managed to cook them properly, and all my experiments with cooking times etc. always ended up producing mush. Now a handful of the little green buggers are happily sprouting away on my kitchen counter and will be stir-fried with some mince, ginger, red onion and garlic plus oyster sauce tomorrow night. THANKs so much for the idea with the colander – this makes the process so simple. Very much looking forward to a quick and simple, super healthy and making the best of kitchen oldies supper tomorrow! Cheers – Tobi

    1. The Zero-Waste Chef says: Reply

      Hi Tobi. You need such a small amount that sprouting is perfect for using up the dregs of beans you have sitting in the back of the pantry. I have a couple of mystery beans in mine and this is what I’ll do with them. Your plans for your sprouted mung beans sound delicious! Enjoy! ~ Anne Marie

  5. Oops – sorry for the double post. I thought something went wrong since I didn’t see my comment right away… Feel free to delete.

  6. I’ve never tried to do this before, but I’m intrigued. Can you sprout all types of beans? I have some chickpeas that I might try this on if that’s the case.

    1. The Zero-Waste Chef says: Reply

      Hi Alyssa. I have read that you can use all types of beans. I haven’t sprouted chickpeas it should work. If you try them, please let me know how they turn out. ~ Anne Marie

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