How to Sprout Grains

By Julia Mueller | Last Updated: April 1, 2014

How to Sprout Grains

How to Sprout Grains
Have you ever sprouted your own grains? Chances are, if you have dabbled into the raw food diet, the answer is a big “yes!” Even if you haven’t sprouted grains at home, you may have noticed sprouted grain bread at the grocery store and have wondered what all the fuss was about.

The concept of “live food” is becoming more and more popular and sprouted and fermented foods are forging their way into even mainstream food culture. Fermented and sprouted foods are considered alive and beneficial to your body. Let’s learn how to sprout grains and have a looksy into their health benefits.

How to Sprout Grains

Why do people sprout grains?

Sprouted grains are easier to digest than non-sprouted grains! All raw whole foods contain enzymes, vitamins, minerals, and/or proteins, which help nourish your body. While the health benefits of most vegetables can be immediately absorbed when eaten raw or steamed, the full nutritional value of grains is locked up within them, so to speak. In essence, grains can not only be difficult to digest, but they are not as beneficial to your body when they aren’t sprouted.

Sprouting grains breaks down some of the difficult-to-digest proteins and sugars, and releases the caged up vitamins, enzymes, and minerals, particularly zinc, vitamin C, and iron. This is not only incredibly healthy, but it also gives your body a digestive break because much of the “digestion” of the grain has already occurred through sprouting! Those who are sensitive to gluten and other proteins found in wheat (and other grains) may have an easier time processing sprouted grains.

For more information regarding the health benefit of grains, read McKel’s What the Spelt?! 6 Healthy Grains to Add to Your Diet.

What are sprouted grains?

Just as flowers bloom from seeds, raw grains, nuts, and legumes contain reproductive parts that allow them to grow and reproduce. After grains are soaked in water then strained and left at room temperature in the dark, their reproductive system kicks in, and they begin to sprout and ferment. This fermentation process is what breaks down the proteins and sugars mentioned above and releases the probiotics that are indigenous to the grains. Added bonus: when sprouted grains are soaked, the liquid becomes probiotic-rich, and is known as rejuvalac. You can drink rejuvelac for its probiotic qualities, or use it to make vegan nut cheese!

Which grains are sprout-able?

Simply put: all of them! As long as you are using raw grains–meaning grains that have not been processed, heat treated, or roasted–you can sprout them! From corn to spelt, rye, buckwheat, barley, oats, einkorn, rice, you can sprout grains of any kind. Fun fact: you can also sprout legumes, seeds, and nuts!

How to Sprout Grains

What do I do with sprouted grains?

Between adding them to salads, grinding them into flour for baked goods, or dehydrating them to make raw bread or bars, there are many uses for sprouted grains. Most commonly, sprouted grains are added to green salads, or tossed with dressing and other goodies to make grain salads. If you have a flour ginder (or really awesome blender), you can grind your own flour for baked goods. Additionally, those who have vegetable gardens at home may sprout grains to add to their growing mix.

How long does it take to sprout grains?

The temperature of your house determines how quickly the grain will sprout (warmer houses = shorter sprout time). I have found that it takes about 3 days from start to finish (including soak time) for my grains to sprout, and my home is normally kept around 65ºF. If you are sprouting grains in order to plant them in your garden, the sprout time will be longer (4+ days). For the most part, the length of sprouting time is the same for each grain.

Are you ready? Let’s get started!

How to sprout grains:

Rinse your raw (uncooked/unroasted) grains under lukewarm water (I sprout 1 cup of grains at a time, but it’s up to you how much you want to sprout).

How to Sprout Grains
Pour the grains into a large mason jar and cover the grains with 2 to 3 inches of water.

How to Sprout Grains
Cover the jar with cheesecloth bound by a rubber band or a sprouting lid so that the bugs don’t get in. Remember, we are fermenting grains here and fermentation releases gasses that insects are SUPER attracted to. Allow the grains to soak for 24 hours in a dark spot (a cupboard or closet works perfectly).

How to Sprout Grains
Drain the grains and rinse well. If you sprout buckwheat groats, don’t be surprised when they form a gelatinous goo around them. This is normal and safe; however, this substance can form mold when left unattended, so just be sure you rinse well, and don’t allow the grains to have too much moisture around them.

How to Sprout Grains
After the grains are thoroughly rinsed and drained, place them back in the jar, making sure the grains are moist but not drenched or submerged in water.

How to Sprout Grains
Cover the jar again with cheesecloth bound by a rubber band and lay the jar on its side in a dark spot.

How to Sprout Grains
Rinse the grains 2 times each day until they sprout–this typically takes 2 to 3 days, but you will likely notice tails poking out after the first day. Remember to keep the jar covered and place it on its side between rinsings. The photo above is what the grains look like after 1 day.

After 2 to 3 days, you should see vibrant tails poking out of the grains. You are now ready to use them in your recipes!

How to Sprout Grains
Remember: if you continue the process a few days longer, small green leaves will begin to emerge – you can plant these in your garden if you have a green thumb!

How to Store Sprouted Grains

Okay, my grains have sprouted … now what do I do?  First off, give them a good rinse. Certain grains such as buckwheat and spelt can be gooey, so giving them a good rinse will make them more palatable if you’re using them in a recipe. If you don’t use your grains in a recipe right away, put them in a resealable container and refrigerate them. When left at room temperature, grains will continue to sprout, so in order to stop this process, you need to stop the fermentation by chilling them.

That’s all there is to it! What will you do with your sprouted grains?

How to Sprout Grains

About Julia Mueller

Julia Mueller writes the food blog, The Roasted Root, and is the author of Delicious Probiotic Drinks and Let Them Eat Kale!. A Lake Tahoe native, Julia loves to play outdoors, and enjoys developing recipes that are nutrient-dense and approachable to make any night of the week.

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Comments

Hi Robert, yup you can eat sprouted grains in their raw form. You’ll typically see a sprouted grain salad at vegan/vegetarian restaurants with vegetables, nuts, dried fruit, etc. mixed in. Let me know if you try it out!

Thanks for the reply!

Yeah, I’ve actually had sprouted grains a number of times in local restaurants (in the town I live in, Santa Cruz, I’m willing to wager that about half of the population is vegetarian/vegan, so thankfully, it’s quite easy to find food that suits my diet here).

However, when I’ve eaten in it previously, I wasn’t entirely sure if it was lightly cooked after it was sprouted, or if they just served it to me raw. Nevertheless, thanks a million, Julie, for answering my question, and keep the scrumptious veggie recipes coming!

Also , happy All Fools’ Day (although, “happy” may not be the most well suited adjective to describe today)!

Oh my gosh, look at how gorgeous those little mung beans are! Love the recipe, Dixya! Thanks for sharing. I hadn’t heard that about kidney beans, so thank heavens I haven’t tried sprouting them yet! Thanks for the info.

So you can just eat this “raw”? They don’t need to be cooked??? I’ve sprouted seeds before (got a sprouter online). Think I could use that to sprout grains?

Hi Maria, sprouted grains do not need to be cooked prior to eating them, although if you’re eating them raw, I definitely recommend giving them a good rinse first. I have never used a sprouter, but my guess is it would work great for sprouting grains. With that said, if you’re looking to sprout grains to use in recipes, I wouldn’t think a sprouter is necessary, but if you’re sprouting them for your garden, I’m sure a sprouter would be awesome!

I read this whole article before I realized that it was Julia who had written it (not too observant), I should have know cuz you’re just so darned clever and always teaching me something new! Can hardly wait to get my sprout on!

Hi Julia! Thanks for the simple and easy how-to! I can’t wait to try this out. How long do sprouted grains typically last in the fridge?

You’re very welcome, Lisa! I’ve never kept them past 5 days, but I bet if they’re sealed tightly, they could go a week 🙂 Let me know if you have any more questions!

I’m so glad the tutorial was helpful, Kelly! It really is a cinch and it’s amazing how healthful the little sprouts are for ya! 😉 Hope you’re enjoying the weekend!

Hello!
I have buckwheat at home and would live to give this a go! After it’s been rinsed for the final time, should it be dried completely? I just wouldn’t want it to start to mold:/ Would you recommend using a dehydrator on the sprouted grains?

Trisha

Hi Trisha! I’m glad to hear you’re going to sprout buckwheat. Just a heads up – buckwheat does get really gooey during the sprouting process, but this is completely normal and is no cause for alarm. Yes, when the buckwheat has finished sprouting, I would rinse it really well and then allow it to dry. You don’t need to use a dehydrator, but maybe let the grains dry in a colander or pat them dry with a paper towel. If you aren’t going to use them immediately, definitely store them in a container and stick them in the fridge. They should last for a week or so, but buckwheat does tend to go bad before other grains do. Let us know how it all pans out! 🙂

Update to my earlier Post:

Sprouting Buckwheat worked out well. Followed instructions as indicated above and I had little tails sprouting within 2 days!
Trish

I’m curious about sprouting because they are supposed to be so nutritious but am scared off by what I’ve read about e coli showing up in sprouts. Having to treat everything i want to sprout with hydrogen peroxide sounds like a big pain so I’m less likely to do any sprouting if I have to do that. Is e coli a concern when sprouting seeds and grains at home?

Hi Sally,

While it’s definitely understandable to be worried about , I don’t think you will have a problem with it as long as you use sanitized jars and are sure to rinse your grains very well. When grains sprout, their natural enzymes and probiotics are released, which help fight whatever bacteria is present. This means as long as they have a healthy environment and are sprouting the way they should, there shouldn’t be harmful bacteria present. If you’re concerned, I would suggest sauteing or boiling the sprouts after they are finished sprouting in order to kill whatever bacteria may be present. Keep in mind, this will lower the health benefits of the sprouts, but at least you won’t be worried about them harming you. I hope this helps 🙂

Thank you for these informations. So I can go to whole food store and buy grains
and then sprout them. I saw in whole food they have sprout grains, are they already
sprouted? I can’t make the difference. Please let me know because I think these stuff
are better than probiotic pills
Thanks again

I found this fascinating but am wondering if I can place the sprouted grains in my nutri-mil and grind them or do I need to just stick with my coffee grinder to make it fine enough to make bread with.
Thank you.

I have a question – I have purchased 50 pound bags of grain that ‘hatched’ bugs. So I started storing the grain in my freezer. I’ve since found out about the benefits of sprouting. I just tried to sprout some of that grain and it did nothing even after 5 days. Have I killed the grain so it won’t sprout? And if so, is there a way to counteract the anti-nutrients that grain holds?

Thanks for any help.

Question. Once they have sprouted, what do you do with the sprout? And how long does the sprout have to be to eat the bean or grain?

Thank you for this awesome post! I followed the directions and sprouted quinoa and buckwheat for late use. After I rinse them and let them drain well in a colander they are still moist. I’m concerned about storing them in fridge in this moist form. Is this safe?

Hello! I have sprouted wheat berries, but they had a sour type of a smell to them. I still dehydrated them, but I can still smell the sour in the flour. Is this normal and/or safe? I followed directions for the actual sprouting. Maybe I put too many in my canning jar? I used a half gallon size jar. Is it better to do the grains in small batches? Thanks for any help with my question.

Hi Barb, we can’t really say, but a sour smell (versus a sort of “earthy” smell like when you buy alfalfa sprouts) is probably not a good sign. It may be better to try smaller batches and see if that helps!

Hi there Julia –

I am very anxious to try this. We are especially fond of lentils, but does the actual lentil become softened enough to eat without cooking, once sprouted ? Also, if I plant these sprouts would it be healthy to eat the young greens/leaves ?

Hi Julia,

I am trying this experiment myself with einkorn graines now, and after washing and soaking them for three days now they have a little white tail, but the last couple of days they don’t really grow anymore … do you know if that is a bad sign? And, can you tell me what sprouted grains should taste like? Mine taste a bit sour, like the taste of sourdough, is that ok? Or should they taste more sweet?

Can you still just soak grains without sprouting them, like quinoa, to get rid of the harmful “saponin” I hear so much about? Also, does it taste strange to eat the little white “tails?”…… and does soaking grains make them soggy in any way?

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