Honest Fare

Pretty Provisions and Notes from the Kitchen

Windowsill Sprouting my way through the Winter.

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Windowsill Sprouting my way through the Winter., Honest Fare by Gabrielle Arnold

My orchids are dark speckled and bruised from the cold. The flowery Lantana shrubs are like coarse twine unraveled in a pile on the ground.  The tall ornamental grasses, which I love for their swaying grace, stand in stiff bunches like little scarecrows scattered across the lawn.  My herbs…oh, let’s not even go there (I think thyme and cilantro are barely holding on). Then there’s the pile of dead and crispy Christmas trees strewn around the fire pit. We like to collect the discarded trees at the end of the season and use them for firewood throughout the winter, but right now, as I look out across the pathetic winter landscape of our backyard, they only add to the overall state of things. Brown.

My windowsill, on the other hand, is more alive than ever- with lentil sprouts galore!

Tricking yourself into thinking its springtime is one way of looking at it, but sprouting lentils is also a great way to add a super fresh, nutrient packed component to a meal or salad.

Lentils help cleanse and stimulate the kidneys and adrenal system, strengthen the heart and circulation and increase energy and vitality. When lentils are sprouted, their nutrients become more easily digestible, and after just 3-4 days of sprouting, their soluble fiber, which helps lower LDL cholesterol, blood pressure, and blood sugar and regulate insulin levels, increases 300 percent!

The sprouting process is super easy, and though today we’re talking about lentil sprouts, you can use this process to sprout many other seeds and beans (alfalfa, clover, mung, garbanzo, lentil, sunflower). They all have very unique and wonderful flavors, but right now it’s the peppery crunch of these little lentil guys that I can’t get enough of.

You can choose any variety of lentils you want – brown, green or red – but just make sure they are whole, not split or in “dahl” form. The first thing you’ll want to do measure out about a cup of lentils and inspect them for stones or damaged beans. Then rinse them really well in cool water and place them in a large bowl of water to soak overnight (8-12 hours).

The next morning your beans will be nice and plump. You can strain out the excess water, rinse and strain again and then transfer the seeds into a large jar, filling it no more than 1/3 of the way with seeds so that there’s adequate space for growth.

Now, cover the opening of the jar with some cheesecloth and hold it in place with a snug rubber band. For the next few days all you’ll have to do is rinse the seeds with fresh water by filling the jar and draining through the cheesecloth twice a day.

After each rinse, give the jar a few firm shakes and turns upside down to get all the water out of there. You want it moist in there, but you don’t want a puddle of water at the bottom where slime can build up and potentially spoil your sprouts. If you start to notice any slime, just give a few extra rinses and get it all out.

After 24 hours in the jar, you’ll start to see the beans split open and may even see some tails forming. Just keep monitoring the lentils growth and keep giving them the fresh rinses + draining for 4-5 days. Once that green leaf pokes out and starts to unfold, they’re ready to harvest.

You’ll notice that they’ll be very tightly packed in their jar(s) so you’ll have to use a little force to get them out. I like to use tongs and grab from as far down as possible.

Once they’re out of the jar, I like to place them in a strainer and give them one last rinse and shake. Then I line an airtight container with a couple paper towels and spread them evenly across the bottom. They’ll stay good like that in the fridge for a week or so. If you’ve sprouted way more than you can eat, just give some away in plastic baggies lined with paper towels!

There are a million ways to eat them.

Soups or salads: (lettuce, arugula, pink unripe tomatoes, avocado, cucumber, lentil sprouts)

Curries or stir-fry dishes: (lentil sprouts sautéed in sesame oil, garlic and tamari. Served with wilted spinach and wild rice and topped with sesame seeds.)

Spreads and dips…like this guacamole: (puréed avocado & lentil sprouts with lemon juice, red onion, salt, pepper, jalapeño and topped with extra sprouts and scallions.)

They’re also a fantastic crunchy element in sandwiches or even on pizza. However you choose to eat them, I think it’s worth doing if only to add a little extra green to your windowsill. Try it out and let me know how it goes!

79 Comments

  1. Posted February 3, 2011 at 12:33 PM | Permalink

    What a great idea! I’d heard of growing sprouts, but for some reason, it never occurred to me to use lentils. I’ll be trying this out for sure!

  2. Posted February 3, 2011 at 1:13 PM | Permalink

    I never thought of sprouting lentils. Great idea. Question…are they crunchy if you do not cook them since the lintil bottom is still attached?

  3. Posted February 3, 2011 at 1:55 PM | Permalink

    I didn’t realize it was so easy to grow sprouts & I didn’t have a clue that you could just use lentils! I’ll have to give this a try.

  4. gabi
    Posted February 3, 2011 at 1:58 PM | Permalink

    Amelia – They are crisp, but not hard or anything. As they grow, they become softer and actually open up to so the sprout grow out. They are much more tender than you’d imagine.

  5. Posted February 3, 2011 at 2:31 PM | Permalink

    What a GREAT idea! I never knew sprouting was so easy and that I could use my constantly-on-hand lentils. Thank you for sharing such a terrific tip =)

  6. Posted February 3, 2011 at 3:19 PM | Permalink

    I am strangely excited about this idea. Sprouting always seemed so daunting with the rinse tray systems on top of the fridge and stuff that the survivalists tell you to do… This seems so simple and beautiful and GREEN…. we’ve got a bad case of the grays here in MT right now. thanks!

  7. Posted February 3, 2011 at 4:13 PM | Permalink

    I love sprouting! This is a great tutorial and gorgeous photos too. We’ve only tried mung beans, but I want to sprout some lentils soon and try that guacamole recipe.

  8. Posted February 3, 2011 at 4:57 PM | Permalink

    I have sprouted lentils a million times but never long enough for them to green! These are absolutely beautiful and inspiring.

    I am walking to my kitchen to soak lentils right now.

  9. Posted February 4, 2011 at 12:33 AM | Permalink

    OMG… I am so into this…thanx for this post!

  10. Posted February 4, 2011 at 1:58 PM | Permalink

    This is awesome! I was starting to wonder if I could still eat the sunflower seeds I had used to make your pate stuff. (They had started to sprout and I wasn’t sure if that meant they were no longer edible… pretty ignorant I know!)

  11. Posted February 4, 2011 at 5:03 PM | Permalink

    I always have sprouts on hand as well. What a wonderful way to put them to use!

  12. Posted February 5, 2011 at 1:52 PM | Permalink

    I keep seeing bags of beans at the store for sprouting and I had no idea what it was about, so thanks! I think I’ll try this!

  13. Posted February 6, 2011 at 5:12 AM | Permalink

    Awesome! Great idea, thanks

  14. Posted February 7, 2011 at 12:48 AM | Permalink

    Wow – your post is so inspiring. I have yet to sprout anything, but it is on my to-do list. I have been meaning to sprout barley but a google search told me it could be challenging… but lentils are right up my alley! Thanks for sharing! :)

  15. Posted February 7, 2011 at 8:02 AM | Permalink

    Those look beautiful! I always mean to make my own sprouts, but I’m never home for long enough stretches of time to rinse the sprouting beans…

  16. tessa
    Posted February 7, 2011 at 4:02 PM | Permalink

    i’ve started my own set of lentil-sprouts. how worried should i be about possible salmonella poisoning? (i’ve heard that this can happen, because of the water stuck at the bottom of the jar.) any thoughts?

  17. gabi
    Posted February 7, 2011 at 4:36 PM | Permalink

    Tessa
    Wow, I actually haven’t heard about that at all. Have not come across it in anything I’ve read regarding sprouting either. How strange. I just researched specifically “salmonella during sprouting” and see that there is some talk on the internet about salmonella from a contaminated strain of alfalfa sprouts, but it was specific to those contaminated sprouts. I’m personally not going to worry about it ;)

  18. Faygie
    Posted February 7, 2011 at 8:23 PM | Permalink

    Looks amazing! What dressing did you use on that arugula, avocado, tomato, sprout salad? That salad looks so good.

  19. Posted February 7, 2011 at 11:15 PM | Permalink

    Lovely post and lovely photos. Little pieces of springtime!

  20. Rayne
    Posted February 8, 2011 at 2:11 AM | Permalink

    So glad to see that other people are doing this, as well. I love to sprout a variety of lentils, and have just started sprouting radish, broccoli, clover, alfalfa, mustard, as well as wheat and rye berries. So, so, so easy to grow in the winter months. When the lentils get the stage that you show with the little leaves, my kids and I call it the dragon stage. Each little lentil looks like a little dragon, the leaves being the head and the root being the tail. :)

  21. Posted February 8, 2011 at 8:41 PM | Permalink

    I’ve started sprouting chickpeas, using your instructions, and they’re starting to get their tails as of today! Thanks for the great post and for the inspiration to sprout.

  22. Posted February 9, 2011 at 10:01 AM | Permalink

    what a great, and of course beautiful, post. My little garden is a sad sad sight right now. But as it’s starting to feel like spring might be around the corner I love this idea to kick start a little growing season. Not to mention the tasty health benefits that sprouts can provide!

    Loving your site!
    Katie

  23. Posted February 11, 2011 at 9:29 AM | Permalink

    I’ve been meaning to do this for a long time – thanks for posting the steps. I love your site! And the pictures of the sprouts are amazing!

  24. Posted February 13, 2011 at 11:13 AM | Permalink

    Who knew it was so easy to grow your own sprouts? Thanks for posting this tutorial. I have lentils in my pantry right now and need to try this. I love sprouts on salads and sandwiches.

  25. Boohoo
    Posted February 17, 2011 at 11:01 PM | Permalink

    Note that jar sprouting doesn’t work well in warm climates or indeed in temperate ones at the hot time of the year. Use an open basket instead.

  26. Ashley
    Posted February 20, 2011 at 12:27 AM | Permalink

    Thank you so much for sharing your love for sprouting lentils! They have come to be my all time favorite snack! Flashed cooked Sprouted lentils, liquid aminos, garlic and cayenne-strangely comforting in the cold VT weather.

  27. Posted February 24, 2011 at 9:29 AM | Permalink

    beautiful site and beautiful sprouting post! i cant wait to try this!

  28. Daria
    Posted February 24, 2011 at 1:26 PM | Permalink

    Wow these were amazing. I didn’t think it would work, but mine look exactly like yours! I made the stir fry today and added some kimchi. soo tasty

  29. Posted February 28, 2011 at 6:46 PM | Permalink

    I got so into sprouting last summer but got out of the habit over the fall and into the winter. Thank you for inspiring me once again Gabi!

  30. Jackie
    Posted March 5, 2011 at 11:40 AM | Permalink

    Hey, got directed here by Green Kitchen stories and was looking over some posts. This is a great, simple tutorial but more importantly: where did you get those beautiful blue cookware (ramekins?). I need those!

  31. gabi
    Posted March 5, 2011 at 11:48 AM | Permalink

    Thanks! They were actually gift, but I think anthropologie.

  32. Katie
    Posted March 12, 2011 at 10:56 AM | Permalink

    Worked great! very easy to do.

  33. Posted March 15, 2011 at 3:11 PM | Permalink

    Just started my garbanzo sprouts today. Thanks for the inspiration and beautiful tutorial!

  34. Posted March 27, 2011 at 3:59 PM | Permalink

    I’ve thought of doing this and just haven’t made it happen yet. You’ve outlined the steps and photographed it so beautifully. I’m inspired.

  35. NICOLE
    Posted March 31, 2011 at 12:47 PM | Permalink

    i have been wanting to do this for a while so thanks for the great post look forward to going home and sprouting my bag of lentils

  36. Libby
    Posted April 28, 2011 at 10:35 PM | Permalink

    Love this! Off I go to soak some lentils!

  37. Posted May 6, 2011 at 1:19 AM | Permalink

    They are so tasty. Mmm…

  38. teresa
    Posted May 6, 2011 at 2:44 PM | Permalink

    where do I buy the lentils to use for sprouting

  39. gabi
    Posted May 6, 2011 at 7:51 PM | Permalink

    Hi Teresa,
    You can find lentils at pretty much any supermarket. They are sold dry in bags. Your best bet is to get them from a health food store in the bulk section so you can select your own.

  40. Anne
    Posted May 18, 2011 at 8:34 PM | Permalink

    I just read Tessa’s question about salmonella. To answer, salmonella in produce occurs because of contaminated water, typically due to run-off from factory farming. So really, if you’re concerned about salmonella, sprouting them yourself is the way to go!

  41. Nury
    Posted June 21, 2011 at 8:12 PM | Permalink

    I love love this idea and I am going to try it. I have never tried lentil sprouts before and they look like they would be a great addition to salads, soups and what nots :)

  42. Posted October 16, 2011 at 9:43 AM | Permalink

    I have a fond memory of making these as a child, anhave been wanting to teach my kids to make one.

    Thanks so much for sharing!

  43. FS3 Ben Stockman
    Posted November 28, 2011 at 6:32 PM | Permalink

    I’m a chef on a ship in the U.S. Coast Guard, these are a great healthy quick garnish. Way cheaper than ordering micro greens.

  44. Posted December 18, 2011 at 12:38 PM | Permalink

    Sprouting makes me feel like a life force goddess. What a wonderful way to keep things growing. Thank you!

  45. Posted February 26, 2012 at 7:44 PM | Permalink

    Lovely site, must give this a try:-). Photos are beautiful!
    T

  46. Lindsey
    Posted March 17, 2012 at 10:22 PM | Permalink

    These sprouts sound wonderful, tasty, and easy enough for even a busy/lazy girl like me to manage! I look forward to trying it!

  47. Posted April 1, 2012 at 11:15 PM | Permalink

    Wow, I am so intrigued by this! I love lentils, love sprouts…this sounds perfect & so good for you!

  48. Posted April 3, 2012 at 12:34 AM | Permalink

    Your method is appealing and easy! I can’t wait to try this.

  49. lee
    Posted April 20, 2012 at 12:23 AM | Permalink

    I live in Mauritius and, although we’re going to start going into winter, it’s still very hot and humid. Someone mentioned sprouting in an open basket. I’d really appreciate it if you could let me know specific details on this. What type of basket should I use? Would I still stretch cheesecloth over it and rinse as per above etc?
    Thanks!

    Do you think I should just try it in a jar first…just wondering what will happen if it’s too hot?

  50. Complexnatural
    Posted July 10, 2012 at 8:28 PM | Permalink

    Great tutorial. I always read that you need to put the sprouts in the dark until the leaves start to sprout. I have always done that. I would much rather have them out where I can see them. So beautiful!

  51. Posted September 26, 2012 at 9:36 PM | Permalink

    Love it! Thanks for sharing and the beautiful photos. I’m halfway there now.

  52. Alix
    Posted October 24, 2012 at 11:53 AM | Permalink

    I think I’ll make some of these today!

  53. Posted October 24, 2012 at 2:00 PM | Permalink

    I just harvested my first jar of lentil beans and oh my gosh are they tasty, I put 1/2 cup of beans in a quart jar and soaked over night with about 1 1/2 cups of water and they were starting to sprout by morning. My jar was so tightly packed I had to take a fork and pry them out, going to eat some on a salad. YUMMIE

  54. Posted December 10, 2012 at 1:58 AM | Permalink

    Can’t wait to try this, i must make it tonight…

  55. J
    Posted December 29, 2012 at 7:23 AM | Permalink

    Thanks for the idea. :-) But, don’t go buy cheesecloth. Use old onion net bags. Also, they didn’t get enough light in the jar, so had to be spread between plastic containers.

  56. Jennifer Garcia
    Posted January 21, 2013 at 3:19 AM | Permalink

    Wow, I love sprouts!!! I am so going to try this, but one question What is a cheesecloth and where can I buy it?

  57. gabi
    Posted January 21, 2013 at 11:06 AM | Permalink

    Hi Jennifer-
    Cheesecloth is a gauze like cotton used for squeezing moisture through when making cheese. Kind of like a filter. You can see a piece of cheesecloth pictured in this post…lookes like gauze. And should be able to find it a your supermarket or health food store. Good luck!

  58. Rosa Gandara
    Posted February 11, 2013 at 2:25 PM | Permalink

    Love this idea will try it.

  59. BRENDA
    Posted February 23, 2013 at 1:40 PM | Permalink

    I JUST STARTED MY LENTILS TO DAY FEB-23-2013 GOT THEM IN MY JAR,S

  60. Posted March 1, 2013 at 8:34 PM | Permalink

    Have you ever sprouted wheat berries?

  61. gabi
    Posted March 5, 2013 at 5:49 PM | Permalink

    Cindy,
    No I’ve actually never tried that but now I’m curious!

  62. Deb
    Posted April 15, 2013 at 8:14 PM | Permalink

    Just started on my sprouting journey. I’ll be harvesting my lentil sprouts tomorrow. Can’t wait for my other sprouting adventures. Thanks for the great info and pictures.

  63. Posted June 19, 2013 at 10:37 AM | Permalink

    Just want to congratulate and thank you for an amazing idea…
    Thanks to your beautiful blog and awesome pictures, I got inspired to make my veggie burgers based on these lentil sprouts… Now uploading the video on youtube ; ) Cheers!

  64. Deb
    Posted August 23, 2013 at 10:57 AM | Permalink

    Do you know if you can grow and eat Cilantro sprouts? I love cilantro and think this could be a wonderful flavor.

  65. gabi
    Posted August 27, 2013 at 8:27 AM | Permalink

    wow, that does sound wonderful! I would think you can eat them.

  66. Gidzmo
    Posted September 1, 2013 at 8:04 PM | Permalink

    I’ve been trying to make bean sprouts, but having a hard time finding the seeds. And the bean sprouts I do make tend to go bad quickly. How to resolve?

  67. gabi
    Posted September 4, 2013 at 9:08 AM | Permalink

    I’m actually not familiar with sprouting bean sprouts, but I’m sure they do turn quickly because of their high water content. If I had to guess, it probably has something to do with keeping the water clean. But I’m not sure at all!

  68. Allyson
    Posted September 16, 2013 at 12:47 AM | Permalink

    Gabi , which beans are common ( like the packaged kind from the store )bean sprouts come from? Also what exactly do you use to start alfalfa sprouts??

  69. gabi
    Posted September 16, 2013 at 8:53 AM | Permalink

    Allyson,
    Bean sprouts typically come from green mung beans. Alfalfa sprouts are a flowering legume plant that’s closely related to the pea. You’d need to cultivate the flowering plant, fabaceae in order to grow them. I’ve never done this before…sounds interesting.

  70. Leah
    Posted October 20, 2013 at 2:52 AM | Permalink

    Would this work with peas? I tried pea sprouts once I am in love! If so, what kind of peas should I use- dried peas?

  71. gabi
    Posted October 20, 2013 at 5:24 PM | Permalink

    You know, I don’t actually know Leah, but that sounds very interesting. Yes, definitely dried peas. Let me know how it goes if you try it!

  72. Celeste
    Posted October 21, 2013 at 12:19 PM | Permalink

    I’m excited to do this with my kids! Thanks for the great directions and recipe suggestions, too!!!

  73. Jennifer
    Posted November 11, 2013 at 12:20 AM | Permalink

    Thank you for the great idea. Do you just use dried lentils from the plastic bags in the dry bean aisle at the grocery store? I guess I never thought of them as a living seed.

  74. gabi
    Posted November 11, 2013 at 8:05 AM | Permalink

    Yes, you can use those and pretty much any whole lentil. However, I’d recommend getting some higher quality lentils at a natural foods market. Check the bulk section. You’ll have even better results!

  75. Martha Barreto
    Posted December 27, 2013 at 5:32 PM | Permalink

    Good idea!

  76. Elaine
    Posted February 1, 2014 at 1:08 PM | Permalink

    We have jar sprouted for years, mostly broccoli and occasionally others. I cut plastic canvas(from the craft or needlework sections) to fit the screw bands of mason jars . They come in different mesh sizes, last indefinitely, and go through the top of the dishwasher as well.

  77. Karla
    Posted February 10, 2014 at 6:34 AM | Permalink

    Awesome recipe! Honestly didn’t expect it would work, but it did wonderfully! So easy, so tasty!;) Definitely doing this again, and with different seeds!

  78. susan Boxwell
    Posted March 21, 2014 at 6:11 PM | Permalink

    Sprouted beans before, but was told to keep them in the dark the first few days until they sprout. Do you do this, or sit them in the sun at the beginning?
    Thanks

  79. gabi
    Posted March 25, 2014 at 1:59 PM | Permalink

    I would say a little sun is okay but not blasting with so much sun that they dry out.

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