how to sprout lentils

Posted on Feb 22, 2013 in Food

sprouts

Was anyone else really big into sprouting beans when you were a kid? I’m talking the whole put a bean on a damp paper towel inside of a Ziploc bag kinda deal. I always loved doing that. I thought it was so much fun to see this little unassuming bean go from, well, a little unassuming bean into something alive and green. Once the bean stalk was a certain size, my parents would help me transfer the little dude into a pot with some soil and we’d continue to watch him grow. Eventually, something more interesting would always come along (Sonic the Hedgehog! A new Ghostwriter episode! A movie where Devon Sawa shows his butt!) and my foray into horticulture would end.

Who knew that my love of sprouting things would come in handy in the kitchen one day?

sprouts

Sprouts are obscenely easy to “make” at home. You can pretty much sprout any kind of bean or seed. Here, I’m sprouting lentils because, I almost always have lentils on hand. But I think I might try out chia sprouts next!

Sprouting legumes, grains and seeds makes them much easier to digest, it changes the flavor completely and it increases the vitamin C and B content, the fiber . I love, love, love sprouts! They are incredible on sandwiches and on salads.

salad

All you need to sprout lentils is lentils, water, a clean Mason jar, a piece of thin cloth and a Mason jar ring. They do sell special sprouting jars, that have a mesh screen built-in, but I find a plain ole quart size Mason jar just works fine for me.

sprouting jar

The first step is to soak your lentils. For a quart Mason jar, I use 1/3 cup of dry lentils. When the sprouts are done, they’ll more than triple the original size of the lentils, so you’ll need lots of space in your jar. In the jar, I put the 1/3 cup of lentils and two cups of water.

sprout lentils

Then I place the piece of thin cloth on top of the jar and secure it with a ring. I used just a piece of leftover muslin from a quilt I made, but you could use cheesecloth, mesh, or any piece of cotton. Mostly, you just want the lentils to be able to breathe, without letting other gunk in (like, say, kitty and puppy fur).

sprouting lentils

Let the lentils soak in a spot out of direct sunlight for 24 hours. I just let mine rest on the counter right next to my kefir jar.

kefir sprouts clementines kitchen

Once those 24 hours are up, drain off all the soaking water (if you use cheesecloth or other thin enough cloth, you should be able to just drain it through the lid). Fill the jar back up, shake it gently to rinse off the lentils, then drain all the water off again and replace the cloth and the lid. Sit the jar on its side back in your spot without direct light.

lentil sprouts

Every 12 hours or so, come back to the jar, fill it back up with water, shake it gently, and then drain all the water off again to rinse the lentils. Within 12-18 hours, you’ll probably see your first lentils start to sprout. Yay! Keep rinsing the lentils every 12 hours or so until almost all of the lentils have sprouts that are at least 1/4″ long. It usually takes me about 48 hours to get a full jar of sprouted lentils. See? A full jar of sprouts from just 1/3 cup of lentils!

sprouts

Then rinse the lentils one more time and your lentil sprouts are ready to eat! I usually spread mine out on a towel for a few minutes to air dry.

lentil sprouts

Once they are mostly dry, I stash them in a container in the fridge for use on everything! I honestly can’t keep my hand out of the lentil sprout container. I love snacking on these little guys!

lentil sprouts

Stay tuned next week for a really awesome, delicious, incredible salad that uses sprouted lentils. Yum!

Do you like sprouts? Have you ever sprouted anything before?

25 Comments

  1. This is one of the things that has been on my “to try” list for a long time. I don’t actually know why I haven’t, since I have a bunch of lentils (and chia seeds) in my cupboard. I think you’ve motivated me to give it a go this weekend!

  2. I look forward to lots of sprouted bean recipes! I’ve been really into them but I need more recipe ideas :)

  3. I love sprouted lentils, I don’t put them in a jar though, I use a sieve, a bowl and a tea towel to cover them. I’ve seen it done in jars but it’s not encouraged here. I think it’s one of those cultural things, like boiling your jars of jam, we don’t do that!

    They are great, sprouted lentils are a complete protein as well, you can use them in salad but you can use then as you would use cooked lentils. I add them to stir fries…

  4. Of all the things I have sprouted, I haven’t tried lentils yet! I think I’m going to go start on this right now!
    Mung beans are my fave. :)

  5. Oh my gosh, I am a lentil, bean and legume FREAK. How did I never hear of doing this? Sounds so simple. I wish my hubby was more on board for food like this because I could eat food like this every day all day!

  6. This is so awesome! How have I never realized this before. Totally used to do that with beans too :)

  7. I’ve never tried sprouted lentils before, but I’m really intrigued by this. I have about 1/3 cup of lentils just hanging around and I was trying to figure out what to do with them..I think I know now!

  8. When you say “easier to digest” do you mean… the gas thing? Because I love legumes but they do not love me… if I could skip that by sprouting them that would be so great…

  9. I have red lentils. I think they were a dollar at trader joes… So I got them for “just in case” purposes. I wonder what the difference is…

    • Red lentils are great for soups because they become very soft when cooked.

  10. I started mine over the weekend and I haven’t gotten any sprouts, I am thinking its because we keep our house pretty cool. Do you think thats the cause?

    • We keep ours pretty cool, too. Are you rinsing them every 8-12 hours? Are any of them starting to split (that’s the first sign). And where are your lentils from? I’ve heard if they are oldish, they might not sprout.

      • I am rinising regularly. I got them at the co-op last week so I would imagine they aren’t too old as they were in a bulk bin but you can never be sure. Maybe I will try some from whole foods if these don’t sprout by the weekend. Thanks!

      • Hi Cassie, sprouts not just these but any you can make independently from the age even older than years. Just when they’re put in jar make a sign on the jar outside where their height inside is, then leave them in the water until they rise the height sign at least 30%. If they are older and more time needed to absorb water, water replace/wash them more often after that, first 1-2 times. And you can even leave them to sprout longer up to 10-15 cm, and than just cut without the roots for use. On that way you can put back roots again in jar to grow, sometimes you can repeat that even 4 times, depends on sources. It is better this way, because if they were with pesticides, their % is lowered to minimum without eating the roots.

  11. kitchen science project with the kids this weekend. woot!

  12. Thank you so much Cassie! The neighborhood I live in doesn’t have a store that sells fresh sprouts and I am tired of traveling to get them. I was investigating elaborate sprouting systems having decided I should invest in one. If only I had known it was so easy! I am soaking my sprouts as we speak…. thanks again = awesome post!

  13. Hi, I am big time into sprouting lentils at home since 15 years. I saw my mum do it. Well, here’s how it is:
    -Soak 4 handfuls of any lentils overnight-green or brown or whatever you prefer in a container with some water.
    – Next day, wrap the lentils in a soft, damp muslin cloth and transfer them into a colander. Keep washing the lentils( in the cloth) 5-6 times a day. Colander keeps draining the water and damp cloth keeps the lentils moist.
    -Within 24-48 hours (depending on the room temperature), you would see long shoots popping out. Fun and easy and healthy!
    I use the sprouted lentils raw in my salads with tomatoes, cucumbers, spinach etc with a dash of lemon.
    You could also cook lentils with onion, tomatoes, ginger , garlic , salt in a pressure cooker. Each lentil has varied cooking time and if I was to start writing out on the yummy recipes, I would have to start a recipe blog. :)

    • You made my day. I just enjoyed some lentil’s I sprouted in a jar but I have some virgin muslin bags just waiting to become incubators.

  14. thanks for this! how long will they stay good once they are sprouted? should they be rinsed again?

  15. I sprout red lentils and make hummus so yummy

  16. Ooh I want to try this! Do you think it would work to use a coffee filter instead of cloth? Also, how long do your lentils last once they are sprouted?

    • We’ve used coffee filters, too! The only issue is that they start to tear easily at the top when they get damp from rinsing, so you have to replace them often, but they work just fine. And I’d say they’ll last 3-5 days in the fridge—although they’re so yummy, they rarely make it that long!

  17. Hi Cassie! I just stumbled upon your blog while looking for how to sprout lentils, and I just had to leave a comment because your philosophy of getting back to your roots resonates so much with my husband and I on our blog, Curious Cuisiniere. We are just starting out on the journey to re-connect with our ‘roots’. It is such a learning process, but so much fun. I am so excited to have found another blogger so in line with our ways of thinking! Best, Sarah

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