How to Sprout Legumes
Sprouting beans at home is an affordable way to pack in delicious plant-based protein and nutrients, while also making the legumes more digestible (and delicious). Here’s our quick start guide to sprouting virtually any legume!
Who else here was obsessed with sprouts growing up? Not like the edible kind, but the kind you made as a science fair project. There was something so magical about putting seeds in a damp paper towel, giving them sunlight, and watching them grow.
These sprouted beans and legumes are the supercharged, grown up version of that science fair project. They’re easy to grow, don’t require any special gear, and transform the humble bean into a nutrition powerhouse. Let’s sprout!
Benefits of sprouting
Nutrition: The process of sprouting transforms a lot of the starch in legumes into a more nutrient-rich food, increasing the amount of folate, iron, vitamin C, zinc, magnesium, and protein. It also breaks down phytate, which is a compound that prevents nutrient absorption.
Digestible: During this transformation, the starchy endosperm is also broken down, meaning sprouted beans may be easier to digest for some people.
Affordable: While you can buy sprouts at your grocery store or farmer’s market, they’re often expensive and can be made for a fraction of the cost at home!
What can you sprout?
You can sprout many things, such as legumes, seeds, nuts, and grains. Today we’re focusing on one of the most common ingredients to sprout – legumes! This includes chickpeas, lentils, green peas, black beans, and more.
As a note, we are not sprouting any kind of kidney beans, which can contain potentially toxic compounds that require you to cook them before consuming.
Do you need special beans?
When it comes to sprouting beans at home, you have two options: sprouting seeds or regular.
Sprouting seeds are specifically meant for sprouting, so they have been treated and cleaned in a way that makes them more suitable for sprouting. These are most likely to actually sprout, and are less likely to carry nasty pathogens – like e. coli and salmonella – which like the warm humidity of your sprouting environment.
Regular “seeds” are basically just store bought dried legumes! This could be dried beans, chickpeas, lentils, etc. Because the manufacturers expect that you will cook the beans before consuming, these may not be cleaned sufficiently for sprouting.
So which did we use? Regular seeds! If you’re going to sprout more longterm, we would recommend investing in good sprouting seeds. But as a fun occasional project, basic grocery store dried legumes worked well for sprouting.
What equipment to you need for sprouting?
Sprouting doesn’t require any special equipment. You’ll just need a breathable container! A wide-mouth mason jar topped with a cheesecloth does the job perfectly.
If you find that you love sprouting and want to do it more often, we recommend a sprouting lid that screws right onto the top of your mason jar.
How to sprout beans and legumes
Sprouting is a simple process that goes something like this:
- Soak legumes to soften
- Rinse well with cool water
- Drain water from jar
- Repeat steps 2 and 3 until sprouts form
- Store in the fridge until ready to eat
It really is that simple! Let’s get into the nitty gritty of it.
Step 1: Soak
Add your chosen dried legume to large bowl or jar and cover with cool water. The water should be a few inches above the dried legumes – they’re going to expand! Soak for 8 to 12 hours (or overnight).
Step 2: Rinse
Rinse the legumes well, then place them in your sprouting vessel (a widemouth mason jar works well).
Step 3: Drain
Pour out the water. Secure a clean cheesecloth (or sprouting lid) over the jar using rubber bands. Prop the jar upside down at an angle to allow excess water to drip out. For many jars at once, a drying rack or cooling rack work well.
For single jars, a bowl does the trick! Store your draining legumes somewhere away from sunlight.
Step 4: Repeat
Rinse and drain the sprouting legumes 2 to 3 times per day (morning, noon, and night works well). Continue this for 2 to 3 days, or until sprouts have reached 1 to 1½ inches long.
On the last day, you can expose them to sunlight if you want them to develop a bit of green (chlorophyll).
Step 5: Store
Wrap sprouts in a clean cloth or paper towel and set in a clean, airtight container. These won’t keep long, just 2 to 3 days in the fridge, so eat them while they’re fresh!
Sprouted chickpeas (or garbanzo beans) are a reliable legume to sprout that are easy to find in most stores! They have a creamy, nutty texture that works well on salads and in soups.
Lentils grow long sprouts and are almost foolproof, so they’re great for beginners! These are delicious on sandwiches and in wraps, or cooked into a stir fry.
Sprouted Navy Beans
Bigger beans can be difficult to sprout and may have a longer germination time, but that doesn’t make them any less delicious! These sprouted navy beans (a.k.a. haricot, Boston, or white pea beans) have a firmer texture and are delicious sprinkled over salads.
Sprouted Black Beans
While sometimes finicky when it comes to sprouting, black beans can work well! Use sprouted black beans almost anywhere that you would use regular black beans, like in tacos, burritos, or southwest salads.
When grown in a sterile environment, sprouts are safe to eat. Given that they’re grown in a humid environment, they are a risk for food borne pathogens, like salmonella and e. coli. If you’re worried about these (like if you fall into a risk group), saute the sprouts before consuming.
Mold is usually due to high humidity and poor air flow, so be sure to rinse your sprouts regularly and drain them well. You should also ensure all equipment is sterile.
Sprouts can be consumed raw or cooked! To cook, saute them with a splash of oil, or simply stir them into hot soups and stews.
Canned legumes have already been cooked, so they are not suitable for sprouting.
Some uncooked beans, such as kidney, lima, and broad beans, need to be cooked before consuming to remove toxins. We recommend simply not sprouting these beans.
How to Sprout Beans and Legumes
- Dried legumes like chickpeas lentils, black beans, navy beans, or green peas
- Soak: Add your chosen dried legume to large bowl or jar and cover with cool water. The water should be a few inches above the legumes – they’re going to expand! Soak for 8 to 12 hours (or overnight).
- Rinse: Rinse well, then place legumes in your sprouting vessel (a widemouth mason jar works well).
- Drain: Secure a clean cheesecloth (or sprouting lid) over the jar using rubber bands. Prop the jar upside down at an angle to allow water to drip out. A bowl, drying rack, or cooling rack work well.
- Repeat: Rinse and drain the sprouting legumes 2 to 3 times per day (morning, noon, and night works well). Continue this for 2 to 3 days, or until sprouts have reached 1 to 1½ inches long. On the last day, you can expose them to sunlight if you want them to develop a bit of green (chlorophyll).
- Store: Wrap sprouts in a clean cloth or paper towel and set in a clean, airtight container. These won’t keep long, just 2 to 3 days in the fridge, so eat them while they’re fresh!