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Sprouting Seeds for Big Nutrition or a Classroom Activity

Rochelle spends as much time in the kitchen as she does at a keyboard. It's no surprise that cooking and food are favorite article subjects.

Your Sprout Jar Garden

Your Sprout Jar Garden

Do you want to plant a garden that will grow in any season or climate. Do you want an edible crop you can harvest in only four or five days?

You can actually sprout a garden that provides a fresh, healthful, delicious crop that is full of vitamins, minerals, and fiber. You might also want to avoid the mess of dirt, soil, or growing medium. How about growing some vegetables that don't need to be peeled or involve a lot of waste in preparation?

YES, it can be done! I've done it in a classroom, and at home.

What You Need

Sprouting seeds is a simple process, and one that children enjoy a lot, especially when they can get quick results and actually see the seeds growing.

You need only a few items to produce a jar of fresh sprouts:

  • Packet of seeds: Alfalfa, cress, mung beans, lentils, onion, radish seeds, or a mixed batch. These are available in many supermarket produce sections, at health food stores, at plant nurseries, or online.
  • Quart-size jar: Canning or large mayonnaise jar
  • Cheesecloth or nylon net: A commercially made sprouting jar with a plastic straining top can also be used—but it is not necessary.

If you are growing sprouts for a classroom project, you might also want:

  • Tray or platter
  • Paper towels
  • Water spritzer
Alfalfa seeds for sprouting

Alfalfa seeds for sprouting

Classroom Project: Sprouts to Snacks

This is how one kindergarten teacher proceeded (pro-seeded?).

  1. Get a package of mixed seeds for sprouting. A single kind of seed can be used, but it is more fun to use a mixed batch, so you can see the differences in each kind. This particular mixture was an assortment of alfalfa, mung bean, lentil, radish, and cabbage seeds.
  2. Place a tablespoon full of the mixed seed in a wide-mouthed jar. Cover the mouth of the jar with cheesecloth and secure with a rubber band.
  3. Cover the seeds with water and soak overnight.
  4. Drain, and shake gently to distribute the seeds along the sides of the jar.
  5. Take a few of the remaining seeds and sort them into groups of six or seven of each type. Place the sorted seeds on on four layers of paper towels on a cafeteria-type tray.
  6. Mist the groups of seeds with water from a spritzer until completely dampened, but not swimming.
  7. To keep moisture in, cover the tray with plastic wrap.
  8. Place both the tray and the jar in a dark cupboard.
  9. Each day, take the tray and jar out of the cupboard so the children can observe what growth has taken place. Seeds in the jar are rinsed and drained, and seeds on the tray are "spritzed" if needed.
  10. The class uses magnifying glasses to watch the seeds begin to break out of their shells, grow a root, and develop tiny leaves. Differences and similarities are noted among the different types of seeds.
  11. On the last day of the week, the jar is placed in a sunny spot for a couple of hours as the leaves magically become greener. Finally, everyone who wants to can taste a few sprouts on crackers with cream cheese. Please check with your school administrators if there might be restrictions on projects with edible elements.

Most all of them will agree that the sprouts are crunchy and tasty.

Grow Your Own

Growing your own sprouts in you kitchen is quick and simple. They make a tasty addition to sandwiches, omelets, salads and even soups.

Larger seeds like mung beans, small red beans, and lentils are great in stir fry dishes. You might want to experiment with several different kinds. You will find that they are much fresher, tastier, and crisper than bean sprouts you may find in a supermarket.

How to Identify Seeds in a Mixture

Mixtures might contain an assortment of the following:

Lentil: Flat, reddish or green "lens-shaped" seed.

Mung bean: Small, almost round, greenish-brown. Sometimes has a small white spot.

Radish: Small, round, and brick red.

Cabbage: tiny, black, and round.

Alfalfa: Tiny and "bean shaped", with varying colors—tan, reddish, and greenish-tan.

You can also sprout soybeans, broccoli, clover, cress, flax, onion, wheat, barley, mustard, sunflower, and several other seeds and beans. In fact, all edible seeds, grains, and legumes can be sprouted.

Cress Sprouts in Five Days

Chronology of a Sprout

If you have never "sprouted" before and you want to do this for a classroom activity, you might want to try it at home first so you can make your own observations.

As with any lesson, you will have a better idea of what to expect if you actually try the activity before presenting it to a class. It will also give you an idea of what kinds of seeds work best.

  • Day 1: Your seeds should have been soaked the night before—this gives them a "head start." They should be drained and rinsed in the morning. By the end of the school day, you may see some of the seeds have split and a little white "knob" appears on some of them.
  • Day 2: Seeds are rinsed and drained again. A definite root, perhaps three or four times as long as the seed, appears from most of the seeds.
  • Day 3: Rinse and drain again. Things are really popping now! The growing material resulting from a mere tablespoon of seeds has increased from 400% to 600%.
  • Day 4: Rinse and drain again. Your jar is about 3/4 full. Leaf structures become apparent. Some secondary root hairs may be visible if you examine the sprouts carefully.
  • Day 5: Rinse and drain. You might want to place the jar in a sunny spot to see if these "baby plants" begin to develop some green color.

Your sprouts are now crispy and ready to taste—but you can wait another day or two (rinse and drain) if you want them to grow a little more. But this timeline is to show that it can be done in a five-day school week.

If you don't use all of them, they can be rinsed and kept in the refrigerator for several days. Rinse occasionally as you use them.

Germinating Seeds in a Paper Towel

Why Should You Grow Your Own Sprouts?

  • They are easy to grow and require little space and attention. They can be grown at any time of year, even when there is snow on the ground and you are craving something green.
  • They are a good source of fresh food when you are camping, or in an emergency when you can't easily get to a store.
  • They have super nutritional benefits, being a good source of protein, vitamins C, D, and A, plus B-complex and phytonutrients.
  • They are easy to prepare and to digest. Certain kinds are high in anti-cancer properties and calcium. They provide nutritional fiber and are low in calories.
  • They also have essential minerals, carotene, chlorophyl, and amino acids. In fact, they are probably the most nutrient dense of any fresh and organic foods.
  • Kids enjoy participating in the natural miracle of a growing seed. If they have helped to grow them, they are also likely to enjoy eating them.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2008 Rochelle Frank

Comments

Ben Zoltak from Lake Mills, Jefferson County, Wisconsin USA on October 20, 2012:

Will do thanks I'm sharing

this on my Facebook page also!

Rochelle Frank (author) from California Gold Country on October 20, 2012:

Thank you, Ben Zoltak. I hope you enjoy the results. Any kind of beans will work I think, but they will take a coupple of days longer than the tiny seeds. Don't put too many in the jar, check them every day and give them room to grow.

Rochelle Frank (author) from California Gold Country on October 20, 2012:

I'm glad I'm not the only teacher who did this. I guess you were impressed, too. Thanks for commenting, everythingdazzles.

Rochelle Frank (author) from California Gold Country on October 20, 2012:

Thanks,Sam. Even Tycoons like to do this. Sprouts grow faster than money, for sure.

Rochelle Frank (author) from California Gold Country on October 20, 2012:

I'm sure they will enjoy it, and it's a good way to get kids to eat a vegetable they might not otherwise try. It is a lot of fun to see how quickly the sprouts grow. Thanks,

Rochelle Frank (author) from California Gold Country on October 20, 2012:

Thank you, Peggy W. I have the jars and tops, too and haven't done it in awhile. Now that my vegetable garden is done for the year, I'll have to get them out again. It seems that your share of this old hub sprouted a whole new crop of comments. I appreciate it/

Ben Zoltak from Lake Mills, Jefferson County, Wisconsin USA on October 20, 2012:

This sounds right up my alley, now I know what to do with all those extra dried red beans we have laying around as well as that extra cheese cloth not getting used. Can't wait to try it in sandwiches and stir fries!!!

Thanks!

Ben

Janelle from Houston on October 20, 2012:

OH MY! I remember doing this in grade school. Wow flashback! Great hub.

TycoonSam from Washington, MI on October 19, 2012:

Hello Rochelle,

What a fascinating hub. Thank you for sharing. I can't wait to try sprouting at home.

Voted up, interesting, and awesome

Stephanie Marshall from Bend, Oregon on October 19, 2012:

What a great hub! My kids love growing their own seeds and in our frosty Central Oregon location, its tough to grow them outside. Bookmarking and going to refer back soon! Thanks, Stephanie

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on October 19, 2012:

Hi Rochelle,

I have the jars and even the tops made specifically for sprouting seeds and have not utilized them in some time. So glad that I read this hub tonight. Will have to start doing that again for the ease and health benefits. Up votes plus tweeted and shared.

Rochelle Frank (author) from California Gold Country on June 28, 2011:

Thanks again, Eaglewiki. We learn so much from our kids

Eaglekiwi from -Oceania on June 28, 2011:

Oh this hub has bought back such fond memories.

I remember doing this activity to educate my then young sons.

I knew it was time to move on when the oldest one said "Mum ,I wonder if we could grow something else soon" ..."Well funny ,you should say that son"...lol

Kids!

Rochelle Frank (author) from California Gold Country on April 06, 2011:

That sounds very interesting. Do you have a hub about it?

WhitneyNZ from Christchurch, New Zealand on April 05, 2011:

I love sprouting, the other day I made sprouted buckwheat granola and it was delicious :)

Rochelle Frank (author) from California Gold Country on November 02, 2010:

Thanks Waterless cookware guy and Health Store-- It's an easy way to make a memorable event for kids.Participating in miracles always does that.

Health Store on November 01, 2010:

Nice Hub,

it is something worth trying I think I parents live sprout fishing and I think this is something they would be more than willing to try

Waterless Cookware Guy on September 17, 2010:

I can remember doing something similar back when I was in grade, it must have been fun because I still remember it. Nice Hub!

Rochelle Frank (author) from California Gold Country on September 14, 2010:

Thanks, Marty. It sounds like lots of people have tried it. I need to remind myself once in awhile, too.

Marty1 from New South Wales Australia on September 14, 2010:

This is great I just love sprouts. Really nice hub with nutrition to boot!

It's probably about time I started growing sprouts again.

Thanks for the inspiration.

Happy Gardening

Marty

Rochelle Frank (author) from California Gold Country on July 05, 2010:

You are welcome. They are always best when you do the process yourself and they are absolutely fresh.

PDGreenwell from Kentucky on June 29, 2010:

I love sprouts and look forward to putting your hub to work in my kitchen. Thank you, Rochelle!

Deborah Waring from Lancashire U.K. on June 24, 2010:

Your welcome.It has been a hot day here in the U.K.so I am just going to water my tomatoes :)

Rochelle Frank (author) from California Gold Country on June 24, 2010:

Yes it really gets down to the basics-- and thekids are so excited when they "discover" the growth happening.

Thanks for your comment, wearing well.

Deborah Waring from Lancashire U.K. on June 24, 2010:

Loved this hub and children really enjoy this activity!Sprouting is an excellent prerequisite to gardening don't you think?

Rochelle Frank (author) from California Gold Country on May 10, 2010:

Great! I hope you'll let us know how it works for you.

Melanie Munn on May 10, 2010:

You have inspired me to try this! I love gardening so this will be a fun, and nutritious, experiment.

Rochelle Frank (author) from California Gold Country on May 04, 2010:

Thanks gramarye and Alison. Children are quite fascinated by this-- especially city kids.

Alison Graham from UK on May 04, 2010:

Thanks so much for this great article - I have bookmarked it to share with my daughter who is a Primary School Teacher - the children will love to sprout some seeds! Thanks again.

gramarye from Adelaide - Australia on April 29, 2010:

Good reminder!

Rochelle Frank (author) from California Gold Country on February 18, 2010:

Thanks, Charles. So, are you talking about mesh or cloth bags? I assume plastic bags could work too as long as they were ventilated. If you were sprouting large quantities, I'm sure this would be the way to go. Give details about your bags, if possible.

Charles on February 18, 2010:

For beans and grains which don't need light, you can use bags to grow them. They allow air to the sprouts, are impossible to break, take up less space than jars and are easier to rinse and drain. Just dip and hang!

Rochelle Frank (author) from California Gold Country on February 14, 2010:

The fresher the better-- store bought sprouts can't compare.

That's a nice idea for a little gift, too.

BkCreative from Brooklyn, New York City on February 14, 2010:

I recently sprouted some alfalfa - a friend gave me a little hemp sack and the seeds. They were excellent - wow!

This is something we certainly should share with children!

Great hub - thanks!

Rochelle Frank (author) from California Gold Country on February 12, 2010:

Thanks for reading, oliversmum, I appreciate your enthusiasm. Kids love this-- watching the wonder of the daily changes. Let me know about your experience.

oliversmum from australia on February 12, 2010:

Rochelle frank Hi. What an easy and fast way to grow such healthy food,also I can get my Grandchildren involved,which will be great for us all .Thank you.:) :)

Rochelle Frank (author) from California Gold Country on January 18, 2010:

Thank you frogyfish and magnoliazz.

It was really fun watching the kids examine the sprouts each day. They found it very interesting. Though a few were reluctant to taste them, I think all of them did try. Most were surprised that they liked them. (You can put most anything on crackers with cream cheese.)

It was several years ago when I did this-- you now probably have to get triplicate copies of permission slips before you can eat anything prepared in a classroom. You can always do it for your own , at home.

magnoliazz from Wisconsin on January 18, 2010:

Another great hub! How many kids will become farmers one day, all because they grew those sprouts? I guess we will never know, but I am sure that a few will be interesting in raising food for a living.

It is also very empowering to be able to grow your own food.

Next, take those kids fishing, and they will never go

hungry! LOL...sprouts and fish are pretty healthy too!

frogyfish from Central United States of America on January 06, 2010:

Glad you shared your info with us all - it is an encouragement to do it -easily- and nutritiously. Thanks for sharing your expertise!

Rochelle Frank (author) from California Gold Country on January 01, 2010:

Thanks, greenerme-- sounds like the perfect thing for someone with your screen name.

thegreenerme on January 01, 2010:

This looks like a lot of fun! I would love to try this. Sprouts sounds like a very nutritious option, and they don't seem like very much work.

Rochelle Frank (author) from California Gold Country on December 28, 2009:

Thanks for your comment, casey.

casey kaldal on December 28, 2009:

I love growing sprouts! It's such an excellent way to get a lot of nutrition for very little cost, plus it's so easy. Great article!

Rochelle Frank (author) from California Gold Country on December 01, 2009:

That's great, Mama Sez, kids do find it to be quite fascinating. Thanks for the comment.

Mama Sez from Canada on December 01, 2009:

I'm new here and my first hub is about kids' nutrition and immunity. With 4 growing children (2 school age kids), your hub really got my attention. What a great hub Rochelle! You gave me an idea. I used to sprout mungbean when I was little but haven't tried the other vegetables you mentioned. I think I will try those with my kids for they also love experimenting. We will surely have fun munching on those sprouts afterwards. Thanks.

Robthom43921717 on October 17, 2009:

Hello

This is a really good hub

thanks for sharing this information

Rochelle Frank (author) from California Gold Country on September 22, 2009:

Obviously you know a great deal more about it than I do. I hope a lot of people will introduce the process to kids, as it is fascinating for them-- and they will actually eat them!

I will be looking forward to seeing what kinds of seeds you like to sprout. Thanks for commenting.

sproutlady from Pennsylvania on September 22, 2009:

great hub! I have been sprouting for over 30 years and have them growing in my kitchen drainboard as I type this. Adding sprouts grown in your own kitchen is the easiest way to increase your daily consumption of raw foods and they can't get any fresher than when grown at home. The nutritional content is soaring during the sprouting process, sprouting is a form of pre-digestion, so the body does little to break them down and utilize the nutrients. I believe it is the only way to consume grains nuts and seeds. Thanks so much for sharing this hub, now I do not have to write one., I will reference yours.

Blessings.

Rochelle Frank (author) from California Gold Country on June 03, 2009:

I haven't done it myself for quite awhile, but they DO taste much beter than the 'fresh' ones in the store.

Thanks.

Cate from Chandler, AZ on June 03, 2009:

I forgot how much fun it was to grow sproputs as a child. My next batch from the grocery store will be seeds instead of sprouts. The kids will love it! Thanks for reminding me how easy and fun it is to grow sprouts.

Rochelle Frank (author) from California Gold Country on February 28, 2009:

I'd like to hear how they do. Yes, you have to tend them each day.

mandybeau on February 28, 2009:

I grew some sprouts about 5 years ago, in a preserving jar with a gauze top on it. I  changed the water and did everything right. It went missing, to be found in a cupboard, all slimy and revolting and  without a trace of water, so now I to buy them from countdown .   They are still pretty nutritious, but I may try sprouting them again, even if only to get a better variety. them again.

thanx for the hub

Rochelle Frank (author) from California Gold Country on February 16, 2009:

The kids I did it with were absolutely fascinated. The great thing about it, was that they couldn't wait to taste them.

Now, If I had just brought in a jar of sprouts and offered them for tasting-- how many kids would have been willing to try a strange green thing?

Carisa Gourley from Oklahoma City Metro, Oklahoma on February 16, 2009:

Thanks so much for this great info...This will make a wonderful homeschool science project for my kids!

We've recently been growing chia on a Chia Pet...this will "sprout" more ideas!

LondonGirl from London on February 15, 2009:

yes, well worth a go, and I think my son would love it.

Rochelle Frank (author) from California Gold Country on February 15, 2009:

No shame in that-- but you might find that it is easier than you thought to try it yourself.

LondonGirl from London on February 15, 2009:

great hub!

We tend to eat quite a lot of assorted spouting seeds but (hangs head in shame) we buy them in a mixed, already-sprouted, packet.

Rochelle Frank (author) from California Gold Country on February 15, 2009:

Thanks k@ri, and that sprout supply link REALLY has a lot of info.

Kari Poulsen from Ohio on February 15, 2009:

I like this very much! We sprouters have to stick together! Feel free to reference my hub. Thanks for asking!

Rochelle Frank (author) from California Gold Country on February 05, 2009:

Thanls, livelonger and all others who commented. I would be interested to hear about your sprouting experiences, especially if you have never tried it before.

Jason Menayan from San Francisco on November 02, 2008:

This is a terrific Hub. I have been reading more and more about the healthfulness of sprouts (vs unsprouted grains and seeds) and your detailed explanation should make it easy for anyone, child or adult, to sprout seeds and grains.

Rochelle Frank (author) from California Gold Country on October 23, 2008:

The kids do enjoy it-- get that big magnifying glass out.

It's easy to do-- and if you keep the jar by the sink (you can throw a towel over it to keep it dark) you may remember to rinse them every day.

And yes-- even though most of us have moved off the farm, groing things is still basic, and something we might need to know more about again.

Rebecca Graf from Wisconsin on October 23, 2008:

I might have to try this. The kids will enjoy it.

marisuewrites from USA on October 18, 2008:

I love sprouts!! Very interesting hub, rochelle!! I think growing our own "anything" is a good back to basic way of living, I will use this info =))

Bob Ewing from New Brunswick on October 17, 2008:

alfalfa sprouts and organic peanut butter on whole grain bread, a delight,

Chef Jeff from Universe, Milky Way, Outer Arm, Sol, Earth, Western Hemisphere, North America, Illinois, Chicago. on October 17, 2008:

On a recent stay with my son in Chicago I have noticed the happy growth in the number of patio and rooftop gardens, most of them dedicated to vegetables & even fruit trees.

We have a natural desire to create gardens and I hope that need stays with us forever!

Cheers!

Chef Jeff

Donna Campbell Smith from Central North Carolina on October 17, 2008:

Cool hub, Rochelle. I might try it too. (hope I don't forget the drain and rinse thing. I am bad about stuff I need to do daily)

dineane from North Carolina on October 17, 2008:

very cool! I think I might actually try this.

Earth Angel on October 17, 2008:

I Love this Hub Rochelle!!

Thank you for sharing such a simple yet rewarding idea!! In this time of economic melt-down, I think it would do us all some good to create, grow and renew the things around us!! Nothing seems more optimistic than to see tiny growing seedlings popping up in the morning!!

GREAT idea!! Not only for the diet, but for the soul as well!!

Blessings always, Earth Angel!!

Patty Inglish MS from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on October 17, 2008:

It's been a long time since I sprouted any sprouts, so I may try it again. Thanks for the Hub reminder of how to do it!

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