Sprouts: what they are and how they work

I sprouts represent the most suitable tool for germination of seeds for food purposes. There are several varieties of seeds suitable for germination, which can be purchased in more or less specialized shops. Let's find out how to choose them and the various ones stages of the sprouting process.

> Where to buy the seeds

> Some examples of seeds for sprouts

> Stages of germination

> Methods of sprouting

> I germogliatori

> Purchase of ready-made sprouts

Sprouts: what they are and how they work



Where to buy the seeds

The search for suitable seeds for the preparation a edible sprouts it's quite simple if you know where to go to buy them. They are usually found in organic food stores, in particular and special food stores or through stores that sell online.
The seeds are better if they are organically grown and if they also indicate on the label an appropriate wording for use as a food.

The main risk is the purchase of seeds for agricultural and non-food use. Furthermore, there is the possibility of buying seeds treated with substances not suitable for food use and therefore the choice of seeds of organic farming origin brings us greater guarantee and safety in this sense.


Some examples of seeds for sprouts

  • Legumes: chickpeas, lentils, beans, red and green soybeans, broad beans
  • Cereals: rice, oats, barley, wheat, spelled, buckwheat, rye, millet, amaranth, division, quinoa
  • Others: anise, garlic, fennel, onion, rocket salad, cress, broccoli, leek, flax, mustard, celery, cumin, radish, pumpkin, red clover, horseradish


You can learn more about the properties and uses of rocket sprouts

Sprouts: what they are and how they work


Stages of sprouting

  1. Quantity of seeds: You choose the quantity of seeds remembering that they will increase in volume at least 4 times. As a guide, half a cup will be enough for large seeds such as legumes, while 2 or 3 teaspoons will be enough for small seeds.
  2. Pre-sprouting: the first phase is essential for all types of seeds and for any method you want to follow later for germination. Taken, the seeds are rinsed under water and remain soaked well covered by water for 12 hours (usually it is indicated for one night. For the larger seeds of legumes it will take up to 8 hours) then the soaking water which is thrown away and seeds are placed in containers for sprouting.
  3. Germination times: they will depend a lot on the timing of the single seeds and on the environmental climatic conditions present at that moment. As a rough guide, the fastest seeds to germinate grow within 3 days while others that are much slower take 5-7 days. These days we usually have to rinse the seeds with plenty of water even several times a day depending on the sprouting methods.
  4. Collection: once the sprout has released the first leaflets called cotyledons and has dropped the coating that covered these, the sprouts can be collected and therefore they will be ready for storage or consumption.
  5. Storage: the refrigerator is the most common method of keeping the sprouts once they have been harvested. Indicatively the sprouts will continue to grow very slowly until the following 2 weeks within which they will still maintain all their nutritional principles. Always paying attention to stagnant water we will have to rinse the seeds from time to time and then place them in the refrigerator until they are used.


Methods of sprouting 

  1. plastic trays: with this method we use simple plastic trays that must be perforated in the underlying part in order to drain the water or with the aid of a colander for at least 2 times a day, morning and evening, we will rinse the growing shoots and then rearrange them in the trays. Some plastic sprouts are specially created for sprouting and have a rectangular or circular shape of stacked trays that take up little space and are very efficient having a last tray at the base that collects the water from above. It will therefore be sufficient to pour a glass of water into the highest basket and then empty the tray at the base which acts as a collector.
  2. glass jars: cheap and easy to make at home especially for small seeds such as millet, sunflower, alfalfa and rocket. Just put a net (tulle, gauze or similar mosquito net) at the mouth of the vase and secure it with an elastic. When wetting at least 2 times a day, it will be sufficient to introduce water and then overturn the jar so that the seeds will remain in the container thanks to the mesh, while the water will come out leaving the seeds moistened.
  3. fabric or hemp bag: the use of a linen and / or hemp cloth bag is particularly suitable for the sprouts of legumes and cereals as they like to stay close by exchanging the humidity present. Once pre-germinated, the seeds are placed in the bag and placed in a container or other plastic bag in order to obtain a greenhouse effect. Subsequently, the fabric bag will be wet by simply dipping it in water and then repositioning it inside the plastic container. Molds reproduce less in this method and after an average of 3 days we will be ready to collect the sprouts. Just turn the fabric bag and drop the seeds that have rooted a little on the cracks in the fabric and it will be enough to move the bag gently to get them out.
  4. terracotta sprouter: this method sees in the terracotta material the best habitat for the growth of shoots; in fact, being porous, it maintains a stable degree of humidity which is excellent for their development. Often, however, the terracotta sprouts are perforated overlapping surfaces that do not allow good air circulation with the risk of onset of molds. Furthermore, the lack of light is a factor that blocks the formation of chlorophyll, a problem that can be overcome by exposing the containers at the end of germination directly to light for a few hours.

Whichever method you decide to use, remember that particular attention must always be given to the stagnation of water with the risk of mold growth! Air circulation and rinsing with running water are essential to avoid the onset of mold.



Sproutters can obtain from commonly used materials that we can find in the kitchen and recycled materials always for food use; this is important to avoid the risk of contamination of materials not suitable for contact with food.

Also there are on the market ready-to-use sprouts of various shapes and materials (plastic, terracotta, glass) suitable for the home sprouting of a few shoots up to more abundant productions in quantity.


Purchase of ready-made sprouts

If you can't or don't have time to produce the sprouts, you can still buy them ready-made. Some types such as bean sprouts, can be purchased directly in specialized shops or in some well-stocked supermarkets and are usually found in the refrigerated area near ready-made salads and fruit salads.

The important is read the label, the expiry date and above all rinse well under running water every time we want to use the sprouts. The correct conservation rules must respect hygiene rules as for any other fresh food.

Sprouts must show up white and clean, with typical colors depending on the type of shoot from red to brown, from green to yellow and the roots must be moist without the presence of soft parts. The fresh sprout is crunchy and the smell is typical depending on the type of sprout.

The important thing is that there are no acrid odors or hints of mold that may be an indication of a bad product.


How to eat sprouts: preparations and flavors


Other articles on sprouts:
> Small guide to the preparation of sprouts
> Sprouts to feed on energy and vitality
> Sprouts, a practical guide



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