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!


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

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

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

    I think I’ll make some of these today!

  3. 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

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

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

  5. 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.

  6. 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?

  7. 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!

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

    Love this idea will try it.

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


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

    Have you ever sprouted wheat berries?

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

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

  12. 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.

  13. 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!

  14. 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.

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

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

  16. 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?

  17. 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!

  18. 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??

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

    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.

  20. 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?

  21. 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!

  22. 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!!!

  23. 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.

  24. 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!

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

    Good idea!

  26. 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.

  27. 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!

  28. 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?

  29. 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.

  30. Posted July 27, 2014 at 7:41 PM | Permalink

    Such a great article, thank you so much! I will definitely try to sprout my lentils. Sprouts are so expensive in supermarkets, but if you do it yourself, it`s so cheap :) PLUS it looks beautiful…

  31. Posted August 4, 2014 at 11:36 AM | Permalink

    Thanks for this super easy tutorial! I’ll be trying this out asap.

  32. Posted August 5, 2014 at 3:18 PM | Permalink

    You’ve made sprouts beautiful!