How to Sprout

Have you been wanting to try sprouting but weren’t sure where to start? Sprouting can seem intimidating if you’ve never done it yourself, but it’s one of the easiest forms of “gardening” and there are SO many benefits to sprouting at home!

As part of the first annual Manitoulin Garden Tour, The Island Jar hosted a Sprouting for Beginners workshop to introduce people to the idea of ‘countertop gardening’. In Northern Ontario, even if you have a huge garden, you only have fresh food for a few short months in the growing season. Sprouting is a great way to have fresh greens year-round, and it’s also perfect for people who live in apartments or don’t have much outdoor space to be able to garden!

We’ll walk you through some of the benefits of sprouting, and give you a quick how-to to get you started. We’ll be hosting more workshops on the topic so be sure to join our email list! We’ll keep you posted on upcoming workshops & events.

Reasons to Sprout

  1. Sprouts are very nutritious (Click here for more generic nutritional info, or here for detailed nutrition info on specific sprout types)
  2. Growing your own sprouts is economical
  3. Sprouts are easy to grow
  4. There is a lot of variety (you can sprout just about any edible seed)
  5. They have a low environmental impact

How to Sprout

Here’s what you’ll need:

  1. A wide-mouthed jar
  2. A bowl or drain rack that allows you to invert the jar at an angle
  3. A sprouting lid, or some screen/netting/cheesecloth with a rubber band
  4. Fresh potable water (filtered is nice but not necessary)
  5. Seeds with good germination, preferably grown organically for human consumption

We’ve got sprouting lids & a variety of sprouting seeds available at The Island Jar, downtown Little Current.

Instructions:

Soaking:

  1. Put 1-2 tbsp of small seed, or 1/4-1/2 cup of large seed in the jar
  2. Rinse with water and drain
  3. Let the seeds soak in the jar for approx. 2 hours (brassica family), 6 hours (small seeds), or 12 hours (bigger grains or beans) in enough water to allow them to swell completely (enough water to cover the seeds then double or triple the amount)
  4. Affix your sprouting lid or screen & rubber band
  5. After soaking, pour out the water through the screen

Sprouting:

  1. Place the jar away from direct sunlight upside down and on an angle to allow the excess water to drain out and air to circulate. You can use a bowl, something to prop the jars up on, or a specific stand made for sprouting.
  2. Rinse twice daily (morning and evening), drain and set upside down on an angle again

Harvesting:

  1. For sprouted beans or grains: after 2 days they will be ready to eat or cook/bake with, without a final rinse, and leftovers can be stored in the fridge.
  2. For leafy sprouts (e.g. sunflower, alfalfa, etc.):
    • after 4-5 days of sprouting, rinse one last time
    • let drain, prop up, continue growing for 5-6 hours
    • place them in direct sunlight to ‘green up’
    • store in the refrigerator

Storing:

  1. Well drained sprouts should keep well in the fridge for up to 10 days.
  2. Optional: transfer sprouts to another dry jar/container, put folded paper towel/clean tea towel underneath the sprouts in the jar. Put lid on and refrigerate. This removes excess moisture and extends life.

Helpful tips:

  • Don’t worry if you oversoak your sprouts – they are very resilient!
  • Some sprouts tend to clump together as they grow. To separate, fill the jar with water, remove the screen and stir gently with a fork. Remove hulls if desired (in water they will separate or sink). Drain as usual.
  • The drier they are the better sprouts keep. Be sure to let leafy sprouts grow/dry another half day after the final rinse before storing in the fridge.
  • Some brassicas like radish and broccoli develop very fuzzy root hairs that can be mistaken for mould.
  • There are also other methods such as a Hemp Bag, or planting in soil (micro-greens).

Click here for info on growing specific types of sprouts.

Sprouting Safely

Sprouts, like any fresh live food, carry risk of pathogen contamination. It’s a small risk, but worth double checking that the brand of sprouting seeds you’re buying takes it seriously. The company whose seeds we carry, Mumm’s, samples each lot as it arrives in their warehouse. Samples are sent to an independent lab to be sprouted and tested for salmonella and E.coli. They sell only certified organic seeds.


You can sprout any dry seed or bean you might have in your cupboard (e.g. chickpeas or lentils), but the packagers of those products were assuming your plan was to boil them at high heat—which would kill any pathogens. Sprouting seed providers know that isn’t the plan for their seeds and adjust their growing and packaging processes accordingly.

How to Use Sprouts

  • As an ingredient in dishes (e.g. salads, sandwiches, wraps, fresh bowls, etc.)
  • As a garnish (crackers & cheese, banana and PB, etc.)
  • Cooking/baking with sprouts: 
    • Make sprout breads from sprouted wheat, rye or barley, snacks like hummus from sprouted garbanzo, or even sprouted wheat pizza! This adds more nutrition, fiber, etc.
  • For more ideas on how to use your sprouts, click here.