Kitchen Counter Gardening: Try Sprouting Seeds

If you want tasty, nutritious fresh vegetables during winter, sprouting seeds is the way to go. Moisture, air, a suitable container, a handful of seeds, and a few days are all you need.

| February/March 2009

  • sprouting seeds
    Hemp or flax bags are excellent containers for sprouting seeds. And spourts come in a wider variety than you may realize. Try multi-colored purple radish sprouts or crisp sprouted peas.
    PHOTO: EMILY HELLER
  • scallops
    Scallops on Wilted Pea Shoots. In this dish, the delicate texture and flavor of sea scallops complement the mild-flavored and lightly wilted tender sprouted pea shoots.
    EMILY HELLER
  • tofu squash
    Tofu-stuffed Acorn Squash with Sprouts. Any winter squash will work nicely in this preparation. In the summer, stuff a tomato or eggplant with the tofu salad instead, and substitute peak-season veggies in the stuffing. Both the squash and the stuffing can be prepared in advance, and can be enjoyed separately, too.
    EMILY HELLER
  • hummus
    Sprout Hummus. Unlike some hummus recipes, you can really taste the yummy beans.
    EMILY HELLER
  • sprout sandwich
    Sprout Sandwich. A pita or sandwich can be made with whatever is on hand and in season. Roasted pumpkin and peppers with fresh sprouts make a great winter sandwich.
    EMILY HELLER
  • mashed potatoes
    Spiked Mashed Potatoes. Everybody loves mashed potatoes, but these get an extra-special kick from fresh sprouts — try onion sprouts especially — and roasted garlic. These are tastier and healthier than regular mashed potatoes.
    EMILY HELLER
  • sprout baked goods
    Sprouted grains can be used in most kinds of dough for baked goods.
    EMILY HELLER
  • mung bean and fresh seaweed salad
    Sautéed Mung Bean and Fresh Seaweed Salad
    EMILY HELLER
  • flax bags
    You can sprout seeds inside cloth bags easily. Most sprouting supply companies sell hemp bags, and Sproutman also offers a nice flax bag.
    EMILY HELLER
  • sprouted grain bread
    Sprouted grain bread  
    EMILY HELLER
  • simple sprout setup
    The simple sprouting setup can probably be cobbled together from things you already have in your kitchen.
    EMILY HELLER
  • SproutPeople sprouter
    This product from SproutPeople resembles the DIY sprouter setup, but comes with an easy-to-use stainless steel mesh-screen screw cap.
    EMILY HELLER
  • EasySprout1
    The EasySprout is another simple method for sprouting seeds at home.
    EMILY HELLER
  • SproutMaster trays
    The SproutMaster features neatly stackable trays that are easy to use and clean, and come in small and large sizes.
    EMILY HELLER
  • Sprout seeds
    Many different kinds of seeds can be sprouted easily at home.
    EMILY HELLER
  • stackable sprouter
    This stackable seed sprouter is one easy method for sprouting seeds at home.
    EMILY HELLER

  • sprouting seeds
  • scallops
  • tofu squash
  • hummus
  • sprout sandwich
  • mashed potatoes
  • sprout baked goods
  • mung bean and fresh seaweed salad
  • flax bags
  • sprouted grain bread
  • simple sprout setup
  • SproutPeople sprouter
  • EasySprout1
  • SproutMaster trays
  • Sprout seeds
  • stackable sprouter

Contained inside a single plant seed is all the nutrition it needs to grow into a healthy seedling. And that’s exactly why these tiny guys pack such a wallop of nutrients. You can certainly benefit from eating raw seeds and nuts, but soaking and sprouting seeds helps them begin to do what they were made to do: grow. And that helps unlock some of those powerful compounds. It’s a great — and easy — way to release all that nutrition into a tangy, tasty treat.

When a seed is in contact with moisture, it begins to germinate. During this process, several key nutrients are increased or made more accessible to us. Some of these compounds include vitamins A, B-complex and C; minerals such as iron, calcium and potassium; protein; fiber; essential fatty acids; and various beneficial enzymes, antioxidants and phytochemicals.

Sprouted Cuisine

In culinary terms, sprouts are typically enjoyed as a flavorful addition to other foods, rather than eaten on their own. They can be enjoyed raw or cooked, and fall into three broad categories: salad-, grain- and bean-type sprouts. Eating a variety of different sprouts is the best way to take advantage of their complete buffet of flavors and health benefits. Here are a few dishes that will be improved by the addition of your fresh, homemade sprouts:

  • scrambled eggs or omelettes
  • salads
  • side dishes, such as coleslaw and three-bean salad
  • dips and spreads
  • sandwiches and wraps
  • stir-fries and sautés
  • casseroles
  • soups (added to the pot just a couple minutes before serving)
  • breads (added to the dough before baking; can even use 100 percent sprouted grain dough)
  • even desserts! (There’s a great recipe for chocolate tortes with sprouted almonds at Sprout People.)

And the Nominees Are …

Though some (alfalfa, mung bean) are more common than others, all of the following plants have great seeds for sprouting — experiment away!



  • Adzuki bean
  • Alfalfa  Kale
  • Arugula
  • Broccoli
  • Buckwheat
  • Cabbage
  • Chickpeas
  • Chinese cabbage
  • Clover
  • Cress
  • Crimson
  • Fenugreek
  • Garlic chives
  • Kale
  • Kamut
  • Lentils
  • Mung bean
  • Mustard
  • Onions
  • Peas (green)
  • Quinoa
  • Radish
  • Red Clover
  • Sunflower   

Safe Sprouts

Since 1990, more than a dozen outbreaks of food poisoning have been traced to commercial sprouts, so some people have harbored suspicions about their safety. Should we worry, even if we grow the seeds and sprouts ourselves?

Probably not. Because sprouts are grown at room temperature in moist conditions, they can foster bacterial growth. But these days, most seed sold for sprouting purposes has been tested for bacterial traces. As long as you start with uncontaminated seeds, use clean jars and water, and refrigerate sprouts when they attain perfection, the risk of growing a secret crop of Salmonella is next to nothing.

Suzanne Horvath
3/23/2011 6:09:42 PM

I tried to grow mung bean sprouts, but they were not as large and plump as what I used to buy in the stores. Can anyone tell me what I did wrong? I make a lot of Asian dishes and I need the big, plump mung bean sprouts. Our local stores stopped carrying the fresh sprouts so I'm totally without.


Aliza Sollins_2
1/18/2011 3:44:51 PM

Yum! Sprouts are a great way to get fresh greens in the dead of winter (without trucking them and/or storing them in the fridge.) One of my favorite recent meals was chopped cabbage + carrot + onion + mung bean sprouts. Saute with soy sauce, ginger, rice vinegar, and sriracha. Feed it to a bunch of folks who don't cook a lot and watch their eyes light up. ~ Aliza // www.baltimorediy.org


liam15207
1/16/2011 5:56:04 PM

Found this article useful for dealing with contamination: http://postharvest.ucdavis.edu/datastorefiles/234-412.pdf I would think a short vinegar bath followed by skimming, and a thorough water rinse ought to be fairly effective. Anyone have thoughts on that? I know vinegar kills both E coli and salmonella, just not sure how it would affect the seeds themselves.







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