Sprouted seeds
Many types of seeds, beans, nuts and pulses that you may have in your kitchen cupboard can be ‘sprouted’ easily in a few days, adding nutrition, flavour and variety to mealtimes.

All you have to do is add water and soak for a few hours or overnight, then drain and leave, rinsing and draining 2 or 3 times a day until they are the size you want to eat them at.

Popular seeds for sprouting include:

  • Mung beans (like the ones available in supermarkets)
  • Chick peas
  • Peas
  • Lentils
  • Wheat
  • Alfalfa
  • Radish
  • Mustard
  • Alfalfa
  • Brocolli

Importantly, you shouldn't use seeds that we sow and plant!

Some seeds have evolved to pass through the animal gut intact in order to spread. Chia and flax produce mucilage to protect them, and most beans and pulses are indigestible raw and dried, so we have to cook or sprout them to break down the enzymes that protect them. Sprouting seeds releases anti-oxidants enzymes and nutrients including amino acids and vitamins B and C.

Very little equipment and space is required to sprout seeds, it really is an activity that everyone can take part in.

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Sprouting seed is generally very safe but there have been cases of salmonella and e. Coli from eating sprouts that have started to decompose or have been kept in warm conditions. Sprouted kidney beans should be cooked for at least 10 minutes before use but generally come with more risk. Other fresh sprouts are usually alright to eat raw or as a cooking ingredient.

There is advice on NHS UK about sprouts and health here which you should read before taking part: Sprouted seeds safety advice

Even if you’re unsure about eating the final product, it’s a great experiment anyway, especially for children to see what can come from the dried goods in your cupboards.

If you’re keen on growing something you can eat, check out these recipes or search for more online.

  • Health benefits of increased nutritional content – Vitamins A,B, C & D, antioxidants and omega 3 fatty acids.
  • Educational and awe factor as the seeds’ germination and growth is highly visible
  • Develops skills like measuring, dexterity and careful handling
  • Sense of achievement as sprouts grow
  • Easy and quick results, can be done anywhere
  • Abundant sprouts mean gifts for friends, family and neighbours encouraging social interaction (at a distance!)
  • Opportunities to use sprouts in smoothies and cooking
  • Let them choose which seeds to sprout to encourage interest and involvement
  • Experiment with different seeds and have a race to see which germinates and develops fastest
  • Taste test! – which sprouts test best?
  • Opportunities to learn about botany and how and where food crops are grown
  • Use suggestions in ‘making it easier’ to enable younger children to be involved in all stages of the activity.
  • Only sprout small quantities of seeds at a time to keep weight down
  • Use small plastic containers as they are easier to handle
  • Use a sieve or colander to strain water used for soaking and rinsing, as this requires less dexterity and strength than a muslin ‘lid’

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Equipment and prep

You may have some seeds you can use out of the cupboard or you can have a look in the supermarket. We found some green lentils and some buckwheat.

Sprouting jars

We were lucky enough to have access to a large Kilner jar to grow the sprouts in. If you don’t have one, anything sterile and waterproof will do. Remember that the seeds will expand rapidly, and take up 4 or 5 times as much space when they are ready to harvest.

Step 1

First, make sure the jars are sterilised and allowed to cool before adding the seeds. As you can see from the pictures, the seeds are added leaving plenty of space.

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Step 2

Clean cold water is then added and the seeds need to be rinsed a couple of times to remove any dust and plant material.

Step 3

Add water to allow the seeds to soak overnight and fix a breathable cloth over the jar opening. Muslin is best as this can be used a sieve as well as being breathable. We used (fresh!) kitchen cloth and elastic bands.

Seeds soaking in jars

Step 4

After soaking, the water is drained off using a sieve, muslin or your hand, and the more water is added to rinse them again. Drain this off, but leave the seeds very moist. You don’t want them sitting in water but you also dont want them to dry out. The best way to maintain this balance is to rinse and drain at least twice a day.

Rinsed beans
Day 3 sprouts
Day 3 lentil sprouts

Results

As you can see, our lentils sprouted very well and continued to grow over the next few days. The buckwheat wasn’t successful though, it could be the seed was too old or had been toasted, and they were discarded. On day 6 the lentils were rinsed carefully a couple of times and put into a container in the fridge.

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Day 6 lentil sprouts

Usually, you could harvest successful crops after about 5-7 days. Make sure to rinse well and use within a couple of days.

As mentioned above, sprouting seed is generally very safe but there have been cases of salmonella and e. Coli from eating sprouts that have started to decompose or have been kept in warm conditions. Check the advice from the NHS about sprouts and health here

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Martyn M weeding Charlie Garner 2019