Sprouting: Why, How and What

“So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. The one who plants and the one who waters have one purpose, and they will each be rewarded according to their own labor. For we are co-workers in God’s service; you are God’s field, God’s building.”

~ 1 Corinthians 3:7-9 ~

Sprouting: Fun, Easy and a great nutritional boost. Keep reading to learn Why, How, and What to sprout.

Pictured: Sprouted Lentils

Why to Sprout

Without spending years (or hours or even very many minutes), confirming that all of these benefits are accurate as stated, here are some of the benefits that I found online that seemed reasonable and inline with other things we have been learning. (See the cited sources below for more details.)

  1. Increases Nutrient Absorption
    • Actually help the body absorb more nutrition from other foods, not just the sprouts.
  2. Makes Foods Easier to Digest
  3. Decreases Antinutrients and Phytic Acid
    • These include the natural chemicals/enzymes in seeds that keep them from sprouting until they have water.
  4. Increases Protein Availability
    • Sprouts contain up to 35% protein
      • Usually this is higher than the mature plant. One exception being for beans vs bean sprouts which are usually similar in protein content.
    • This protein is easily digestible.
  5. Increases Fiber Content
  6. Breaks Down Gluten for Easier Digestibility
  7. Helps Reduce Other Allergens Found in Grains
  8. May Increase Enzymes and Antioxidants
    • up to 100 times higher than raw fruits & vegetables
    • 1 cup broccoli sprouts = 28 mg vitamin E
      • 1 cup Unsprouted broccoli = 1.5 mg vitamin E
    • beans vitamin B2 increases 51% when sprouted
  9. Alkalizing to the body
    • Which helps offset the effects of stress and a poor diet
  10. Excellent for weight loss
    • low calorie density
      • very low calories compared with nutrition and fiber

In addition, sprouts are:

  1. Cheap
    • ¼ cup of mung beans will fill a one quart mason jar after just a few days of sprouting
    • This produces more filling and nutritious food than before sprouting, and only takes a few days.
  2. Quick to grow
    • compared with growing a full plant
  3. Educational
    • With homeschooling our children, it is amazing to experience things quickly growing from seed to plant… and then to get to enjoy eating… all within about a week.
  4. a Window to a glimpse of God
    • Seeing different aspects of God’s creation, from the grandeur of the universe to the details of a microbe, gives a growing appreciation of the creativity of our Creator God.
  5. Fun
    • You can see the fruit of all your “hard work” in just a few days and be ready to eat this marvelous garden that you have “toiled over.”

How to Sprout

As well as truly being nutritious, sprouting is the ultimate garden for those who like quick results with little work. :o)

All that you really need is a bowl to put the sprouts in, a towel (or something to keep the sprouts moist and covered), water and whatever you are going to sprout.

Here is some examples of my wife’s early sprouting trays (done as a fun and edible experiment with our boys).

Pictured: Sprouted Mung Beans

Notes about the sprouts above:

  • This was in a strawberry container, which allowed it to drain itself. They put water on it ever day to rinse them.
  • The towel you see is a heavier towel. You can also use a lighter towel (such as a paper towel). We were experimenting and found that the heavier towel produced shorter, thicker sprouts, while a lighter towel produces longer, thinner sprouts.
  • The final picture shows the leaves. We sprouted these on our window (normal sprouting is done out of direct sunlight). We ended up planting many of these in our garden and they grew. :o)

However, having a few tools can make sprouting even easier! And since I like “easy”, I’ll explain the way we mostly sprout now.

Materials:

  • Wide-mouth mason jar (usually 32 oz/4 cup)
    • the “wide-mouth” is helpful to get the sprouts out when they are ready
  • Sprouting lid (for the wide-mouth mason jar)
    • Note: Sometimes people don’t notice that you can remove and wash the rubber washer in the lid. It can be easily removed, washed and replaced.
  • Water
  • Whatever you are going to sprout (beans, lentils, nuts, seeds, etc.)

Directions to Sprout

The following directions assume a standard size 32oz (4 cup), wide-mouth mason jar. I will use Mung Beans as my example, but the directions are the same for beans, lentils, nuts, seeds, etc.. The sprouting times may be different and you may learn to start with more or less seeds, beans, etc., but the basic directions are the same and you can give it a try, learn and make changes from there.

  1. Put ¼ cup of dry beans in the mason jar
    • The amount is flexible. This just gives an idea of how little you need.
    • Note: These are the dried beans such as mung beans, red beans, garbanzo beans, etc. NOT long string beans.
  2. Put on the sprouting lid
    • The lid will stay on until the beans are sprouted and ready to eat
  3. Rinse the beans
    1. Put enough water in the jar to cover and rinse the beans.
    2. Dump out the water
  4. Soak the beans for 24 hours
    • Fill the jar with water.
      • It doesn’t have to be to the brim.
      • The beans will expand when they soak up the water and “wake up”. There just needs to be enough water to keep them covered while they are soaking. 
    • Note: The soaking “wakes up” the beans, prepares them to grow and brings them back to life.
  5. NOTE: Keep your sprouts out of direct sunlight during the entire sprouting process.
    • Sunlight will cause the sprouts to grow leaves and start growing into the full plant.
      • This isn’t bad for you, actually it can be good, but may cause the sprouts to have a more bitter taste.
      • They can be in a darker corner of the counter, or in a cabinet.
    • If your sprouts are growing dark green they were probably in the light.
  6. After soaking for 8-12 hours: Dump out the soaking water
  7. Rinse the beans
    1. Put enough water in the jar to rinse the beans. 
    2. Dump out the water
  8. Drain the rinse water
    1. Dump out the water
    2. Set the jar upside down to let it drain for about 15 minutes.
      • The sprouting lid has feet to raise it above the sink, so that it can drain.
    3. The seeds will still be damp, but not soaked.
    4. Put your seeds out of direct sunlight.
  9. Lay the jar on it’s side
    • This allows airflow, which keeps the sprouts from getting mold.
  10. REPEAT steps 7 through 9 twice a day (Rinsing and Draining the beans)
    • You should rinse and drain the beans twice a day.
    • This keeps the beans moist so that they will stay alive and grow.
    • It also keeps the water fresh, so that mold doesn’t form.
    • If you forget occasionally and only do it once a day, it should be fine, but it’s best to do it twice a day. (Perhaps once with breakfast and one at dinner.)
  11. Eat or refrigerate your sprouts
    • When they are ready, you can eat or refrigerate your sprouts.
    • They are ready whenever you say they are ready. Some people like very short sprouts, so may only sprout for 1-3 days. Some like longer sprouts, so may sprout for about a week.
    • Getting used to the taste of sprouts may take some time (especially if they had sunlight and started to turn green/bitter). Here are some tricks.
      • Include sprouts in other foods such as salads, smoothies, etc.
      • While some sprouts will die and lose much of their value if cooked, some hardy sprouts, such as mung beans, can be added to a stir fry, etc. when you are almost done cooking.

If you really get into sprouting and need more spouts, you can also buy a sprouting tray, though we haven’t reached that level. We just use several mason jars, so we can sprout different things, and start them at different times.

What to Sprout

You can sprout just about any RAW bean, lentil, nut or seed. If it is safe to eat, it is safe to sprout. If it has been cooked, all life is gone and it will not sprout.

Two of our favorites are:

  • Mung Beans
    • We buy organic mung beans at a local asian market
  • Lentils
    • We buy lentils at a local mediterranean market

You can play around. If you aren’t sure if something will sprout, try it with a small amount. If you aren’t sure if it is raw or not, you can try sprouting it and see if it works.

Lessons from sprouting

God made an amazing creation! A seed, dried bean, etc. can sit dormant for months, years, decades and sometimes even centuries and millennia, and yet given the right circumstances (water and air), can sprout and bring forth new life and duplicate to new plants.

1 Corinthians 3:7 reminds us that, “… neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow.” This can be seen so clearly with sprouts. We literally take the seed God created, keep it wet and watch it grow. I know of nothing that man has made that has this ability to grow, change, and reproduce all on its own (other than things that have God made materials as a part of them). Yet, it happens around us all the time. Sprouting gives a just a glimpse into this amazing ability that God has built into creation. This process was started in Genesis 1:11 and continues to this day. (Genesis 1:11-12, “Then God said, “Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds.” And it was so. The land produced vegetation: plants bearing seed according to their kinds and trees bearing fruit with seed in it according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good.”

God’s creation is indeed very, very good!

Likewise, when God plants the seed of faith in us, when that seed is given what it needs, the Word of God, time with Him in prayer, and the fellowship of believers, it will sprout and grow. God does this work, to give us true life, cause us to grow and then to reproduce seeds of faith in the world. (cf: Matthew 13)

Enjoy your sprouting journey. Let us know if you have any questions, comments or suggestions.

References