How to Sprout Seeds: A Simple Guide for Beginners (And Everyone Else)

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Do you like sprouts? Do you know you can grow them yourself? Sprouting seeds is an essential part of a food storage plan, especially if you have limited space available to store food.

The only sprouts I had ever eaten were plain, long white mung bean sprouts from the grocery store. Honestly, I didn’t really care for them.

But then I discovered home sprouting and the wide variety of seeds, beans, lentils, and nuts that could be sprouted. My family now eats them on salads and sandwiches and sometimes even just straight from the sprouter!

Yes, they’re that good.

Besides the fact that sprouts are healthy for everyday eating and should be added to your diet for nutritional reasons, sprouting is an excellent prepping skill to have.

image: sprouts in white bowl sits on green table full of sprouting seeds

What are sprouts?

Sprouting is when the seed starts to become a plant, putting out roots, shoots, and leaves. In other words, they’ve germinated. It’s the shoots and leaves, the sprouts, that are harvested and eaten. They are easily digestible and nutritious, adding a satisfying crispness to other foods.

Why is sprouting seeds a good prepping skill?

There are at least five benefits to including sprouting in your prepping arsenal:

1. Nutrition

Sprouts are living foods packed with living enzymes ready to take food to the next level, necessary for good health.

The Importance of Enzymes

To give you an example of how enzymes work and why they are so important for your health, consider this: Have you ever dropped an apple and noticed a bruise form? What happens to that bruise over time? Underneath the skin, enzymes are busy at work breaking down that apple until there is nothing left. The exact same thing happens with the enzymes in your digestive tract.

These mighty, enzymatic “powerhouses” perform their magic, breaking down the food into its constituent parts – vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, and protein – so the body can ultimately use it for life and vitality. Without them, we are borrowing from our body what it was never designed to do. To use the old adage, we are “robbing Peter to pay Paul.”

Yes, the body is thankfully equipped with the means to also digest these essential nutrients with a flood of digestive enzymes, from amylase in your saliva to gastric lipase, pepsin, and renin in your stomach mixed with hydrochloric acid. The partially digested food (chyme) then empties into your small intestine, where liver bile and pancreatic enzymes continue to break down the food so the nutrients can be absorbed. There is a kink in this unreliable system, though.

Over time and with abuse, the body is forced to pump out all the enzymes needed for digestion, and eventually, the body breaks down. Hence, we see the rise of such horrific, degenerative diseases like diabetes, heart disease, and cancer – to name a few. Instead of the food enzymes breaking down our vital nutrients, our bodies are breaking down, and we wonder why.

Essential Enzymes, Amino Acids, and Protein

Sprouts help correct this imbalance. In fact, alfalfa sprouts are one of the healthiest foods available to man, with such vital nutrients as calcium, copper, folate, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium silicon, zinc, and Vitamins C, B, D, E, and K.

Not only do sprouts possess all these nutrients, but they’re also alive and full of enzymes! By simply applying sprouts to your long-term food storage, you, too, can enjoy the fresh, crisp flavor and crunch of vegetables, employing every nutrient for the health of your body.

Sprouts also tend to contain higher levels of essential amino acids, with certain individual amino acids increasing by as much as 30%. In addition, the proteins in sprouts may also be easier to digest. This makes sprouts a highly desirable option during hard times when access to a fresh, non-meat/dairy source of protein may be limited.

Examples of Nutrition in Sprouted Seeds

  • Broccoli sprouts are one of the most nutritious… eating one ounce of broccoli sprouts gives you as many antioxidants as 3 pounds of mature broccoli!
  • Lentils, chickpeas, and other sprouted legumes are protein-rich.
  • Mung beans sprout fast and are high in both protein and fiber.

Check out this list of nutritional content for the most popular sprouts.

2. Garden Indoors All Year

You can grow food indoors even when it’s a blizzard outside.

Seriously, if you live in an extreme climate that limits your outside growing months, sprouting seeds is a way to grow a variety of fresh greens year-round. No dirt under the nails, no back-breaking work, no worries about early frost.

Cool, right?

READ MORE: These 13 quick-to-mature veggies are good options for short outdoor growing seasons.

3. Security

If you have a security reason for not gardening outside, you can still have fresh greens by sprouting indoors. In fact, you can hide them even more if needed by putting your spouters inside a cabinet, under a bed, etc.

Sprouts do not need any light for growth. Exposure to sunlight at the end of growing activates the chlorophyll and greens up the sprouts, but it’s not a requirement for taste or nutrition.

4. Portability

You can sprout seeds on the go by taking your sprouter in the car or even by putting it inside a backpack. In a bug-out situation, you can carry a great deal of food in very little space. (See #5.)

5. Shelf Life and Compact Storage

Sprouting seeds have a shelf life of 1 to 5 years, depending on the variety. Refrigerating can double the lifespan, while freezing can extend it 4 to 5 times. Learn more about sprouted seeds’ shelf life and storage here.

Most sprouting seeds are very small but grow exponentially. A single pound of alfalfa sprouting seeds, for example, can produce 7 pounds of edible food!

Are there any drawbacks to sprout seeds?

As great as sprouted seeds are, they have two drawbacks it’s important to understand and take into consideration: calorie density and water.

Sprouts are not calorie dense.

It’s important to note, however, that while sprouts are nutrient-dense, they are not calorie-dense. Your food storage needs both. Read more about the importance of calories in your food prep here.

Safe water is required.

The second potential “downside” with sprouting during emergency situations is the amount of water needed. Sprouts need to be initially soaked and then rinsed twice a day. If access to safe water is an issue, it could be difficult to impossible to grow the sprouts.

However, sprout water does not need to be discarded. In fact, the water used for the initial soak is full of nutrients that could be consumed as is, used as soup stock, or as needed to reconstitute dehydrated or freeze-dried foods.

How do I grow sprouts?

Sprouting is so easy a child can do it. (In fact, most of us experienced sprouting a bean seed as a science experiment.)  If you can measure and rinse seeds, you can sprout!

No special knowledge or complicated equipment is required. You just need sprouting seeds, a sprouter kit (see below), moderate moisture, warmth, and maybe five minutes of your time daily.

Simply sprinkle some seeds in your sprouter kit, cover with water, soak overnight, drain, and lightly water for a few days. Then, voilà, watch them grow! Easy peasy! Soon you will have a bountiful crop of healthy sprouts to incorporate into your long-term food storage plan!

For best results, follow the directions that come with your sprouter and with your seeds.

Which sprouting seeds are best for beginners?

Some of the most popular sprouting seeds for beginners are bean and pea sprouts. But you can sprout pretty much any plant that you would eat the leaves and stems from.

What equipment do I need for sprouting seeds?

No special equipment is required. All you really need is a sprouter. Here are a few options:

  • Mason Jar with screen – If you have a mason jar, you can buy a screen insert and ring and have a go. Or you could buy a complete set like this or this.
  • Four Tray Sprouter – The trays of this version allow you to either sprout a variety of different seeds and beans in one compact footprint or enable you to stagger your growth by starting the trays a couple of days apart, so you have fresh sprouts constantly at the ready. Watch this video to see how this one works.
  • The Easy Sprout Sprouter – Simple, compact, and likely the most popular sprouter of all. This one is a must if you want to sprout on the go. Here’s an instructional video to show you just how easy it is!

It’s surprising how quickly sprouts can begin to go bad. All of these options allow you to make relatively small amounts of sprouts that can be eaten within just a couple of days.

Are sprouts safe to eat?

Foodborne illness is a risk with any fresh produce that you eat raw or only cook slightly if it’s contaminated. If you decide to try sprouting, you should:

  • follow food safety guidelines,
  • use high-quality seeds suitable for home sprouting produced in a food-grade facility,
  • follow manufacturer instructions,
  • always use clean hands and clean equipment, and
  • never eat sprouts that are off in color, smell, appearance, etc.

What kind of sprouting seeds should I buy?

There are so many different types of sprouts out there. Simply dozens and dozens of seeds, beans, lentils, and nuts you can sprout on your own.  You’ll need to experiment to find the ones you and your family enjoy. Be bold and try a wide variety to find your own favorites. The best way to do that is to find variety samplers like this one.

My favorite way to grow and eat them, though, is to mix them together for a gourmet treat on salads, and sandwiches, and as a topping for stews and soups.

The Final Word

Something that is missing from many emergency food storage pantries is foods that are intensely nutritious, and this is where sprouting seeds can lend a hand. They’re easy to grow, inexpensive, and provide nutrients that are vital to optimal health. Add this new skill to your prepping activities to help you and your loved ones stay healthy no matter what.

Do you sprout seeds? What are your favorites?

Originally published on April 18th, 2015; updated by The Survival Mom editors.

13 thoughts on “How to Sprout Seeds: A Simple Guide for Beginners (And Everyone Else)”

  1. These are the short nonsensical articles that cut the chase and add easy inexpensive calories to my diet. Thank you so much. If I had a daughter, I would want her to be just like you. thanks again

    1. The Survival Mom

      Nothing, other than is the seed going to give you a sprout that you would want to eat. Not all of them are tasty.

  2. Healthy Food Storage

    Lots of good info packed in here. Personally I really like the easy green autosprouter which was left out of the list. It mists the sprouts 5x/day, so all you have to do is load the tray with seeds and harvest. Also one important mention-able is that its good to soak the seeds with a tsp of food grade hydrogen peroxide in 8oz of water. This can help prevent mold and bacteria in the process.

    1. Jennifer Maynard

      Hi Amy, I am helping my vegan friend to get supplies for sprouting. How much pounds of seed would a family need per person per week if they are completely vegan.
      I taught the mother how to sprout as they never know about even though they are vegan. Now she hooked on it and wants to purchase seeds in bulk.

      Please advise.

      All the best,


      1. The Survival Mom

        Hi Jennifer. Lisa here. A more important question to ask is how many calories and which nutrients this family needs for their daily intake. Sprouted seeds contain a negligible amount of calories — 43 calories per 1/2 cup of sprouted radish seeds, for example. Sprouted seeds are an excellent source of micronutrients, not calories, to SUPPLEMENT a well-rounded diet.

  3. As I can only grow in outdoor containers about 7 months of the year (SW FL) and I dislike buying produce from unknown sources I rely on sprouts. Typically I have 3 ready to eat and 3 growing. And eat 1.5-2 cups daily.
    My favorites are fenugreek for the crunch, red clover and radish for sandwiches, cabbage & broccoli for salads. Inside I also grow as microgreens buckwheat, sunflower and mung beans (as a sprout the bean part raises my blood sugar too much) and I’m going to try romaine lettuce as a microgreen as I got a good buy.
    I’m not fond of arugula or alfalfa but will buy the seeds if on sale.

    1. Thanks for sharing your sprouting experience, Bellen. Fenugreek is a new one for me, so I looked it up. It has quite a remarkable list of medicinal properties! I’m wondering…what do you sprout your seeds in?

      1. I use wide mouth canning jars with either the plastic sprouting tops or the plastic ring with stainless mesh insert. Tops can be found on Amazon or a natural food store. Both have little ‘feet’ so I manually drain the water then set upside down for further draining, usually less than a teaspoon, until the next rinse.

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