Sprout It!

Homesteading - the resurgence of self-sufficiency - has really gained momentum in recent years. Some take it to extremes and it becomes "survivalism" (see: Doomsday Preppers), but for many, it's simply a back-to-basics way to reclaim the skills of our past. This becomes more and more appealing as we face a future that's so completely immersed in and dependant upon technology. There's something very comforting about the authenticity of gardening, canning, and making your own whatever. In one of my previous posts, I waxed jealous about all the cool crafting ideas that come from this movement.

Amazon has this new thing they do called "add-on items" where, at the time of checkout, they serve up a few, inexpensive things tangetially related to what you're purchasing. They are, essentially, impulse buys. The incentive is that you get free, two-day shipping. Of course, this isn't an incentive to those of us who already have Amazon Prime but it's still kind of fun to be offered these little by-the-cash-register items.

So, when I bought a couple of homesteading-related books recently, imagine my delight when I was served up an Amazon Add-On of a "sprout lid" for wide-mouthed Mason jars. For only $2?! Count me in!

Here's the deal with me and sprouts... I LOVE alfalfa sprouts. I could put them on everything. However, I rarely finish an entire container of store-bought sprouts before they go bad. And, as we all know, Alex hates wasting food. So the idea of sprouting at home has always been appealing.

I thought I'd buy some seeds locally but never got around to it and then, one night, I just pulled the trigger and bought them, online through Amazon, from the same people, The Sprout House, who brought me my lid. For $15 I got enough alfalfa seeds to last me for a really, really long time.

Thus began the sprouting adventure.

Holy cats. If I'd known it was this easy, I never, ever would have bought them from the store! Here, in pics, is how I went from seeds to edible sprouts in three days:

Step 1: Put seeds in jar. I used two tablespoons.

Step 2: Soak in water for 8-10 hours.

Step 3: Drain all water.
You'll notice that the seeds are sticking to the sides of the jar. I read online that this was a good thing to do - swirl them up and allow them to stick. It helps to keep them from sitting in any leftover water in the jar (which will rot the seeds). My friend, SSAF, recommended tilting the jar upside down (sorry I didn't get a pic of that) to ensure that any leftover water would drain out. So, I just propped it up against the backsplash of the counter and put a folded paper towel under the jar. Don't put the jar fully upside down or you'll trap the moist air in the jar. Tilt it.

12 hours in. They're growing!!!
After the initial soak/drain, you must rinse and drain the seeds twice a day. I did as part of my morning routine and just before I started cooking dinner.

And this is what happened after just three days: 

Approximately 1 C of edible sprouts
A small amount of unsprouted seeds.
One thing I learned was that not all the seeds will sprout at the same time, that's why you end up with a few unsprouted or only partially sprouted when most are ready to eat. I haven't quite figured out what my next move is... Do I keep the sprouts in the jar and refridgerate the whole thing? Do I remove them from the jar and put them in some other container (this would allow me to keep rinsing the unsprouted seeds...)  I'll keep working on it and, hopefully, become a master sprouter. Frankly, it's so easy, I'm starting to think that I need to buys some additional, different seeds soon... Maybe something spicey.

Oh! If you don't want to buy the little plastic lid, you can use a double layer of cheesecloth under a Mason jar ring.   :)

Cassandra asked me what the nutritional value was of sprouts. I had no idea because I don't usually care when the item is a salad ingredient. But I thought I'd look it up and let you know. So, basically, not a lot. 5% of the USDA daily allowance of Vitamin C, some Vitamin A, a little Calcium and Iron. However, I did find this amazing nutritional site, Self Nutrition Data.

Sprout it!! (maybe that's the next Portlandia skit).

- Alex


  1. There is a first step...

    To prevent E.coli bacteria, soak seeds in a 2% bleach solution (1 tsp to 1 C. water) for 15 min., rinse thoroughly.

    You should always begin with this step, even if the seed packet says it's unnecessary.

    1. SSAF! Thanks for the tip. After the 15 minute bleach-water soak, you rinse thoroughly and THEN do the 8-10 hour soak, right?

  2. Yes, indeedy, Ma'am! A fifteen minute hot bleach-water soak, rinse thoroughly, 8 - 12 hour soak in lukewarm water (I usually fill 3/4ths of the jar), rinse thoroughly, then you're on your way just as you described!

    Love the article! And, love that lid!