You’ll often see sprouts in the “fancy” section of a produce market, but you don’t have to pay that high price tag to enjoy a gourmet, sprouty meal experience. Read on to learn why I’m so obsessed with lentil sprouts, and to learn how to sprout lentils yourself at home, with almost zero effort and no fancy equipment.
Sprouting magically transforms dried, dormant legumes into fresh, crunchy, delicious vegetables for salads. Sprouting also improves their protein content, unlocks extra nutritional benefits like vitamin c and antioxidants, and can be easier on digestion. They are perfect for when the produce has run out and you want something fresh.
Why sprout lentils?
Usually you need to cook lentils in order to digest them. But sprouting neutralizes the acid in the lentils that is usually a problem for digestion, and unlocks their yummy nutrients and vitamins without cooking.
Lentils are seeds, so they can be sprouted just like any other seed. Sprouting them transforms them from a dry pantry staple to a fresh, crunchy vegetable that’s alive, delicious, and packed with nutrition.
All you need to do is soak some regular dried lentils, drain them, and let them sit in a jar for a few days, rinsing them occasionally. While I do recommend some awesome gadgets to make sprouting more fun, you don’t need any fancy equipment. When we’re traveling, we’ve been known to sprout lentils in pint glasses and it works just fine! (See the photo below)
Lentil sprouts are:
- Easy to grow
- Ready in 2-5 days
- Nutrition packed
- Delicious on everything
- A great healthy snack
- Fun to make for kids and grown-ups!
What kind of lentils can I sprout?
You can use most varieties of lentils, but I’ve found that green, brown, and black lentils work best. I’ve read that red lentils, yellow lentils, white lentils, or any varieties with their skins removed don’t work well for sprouting.
Can I sprout other legumes too?
Yes! You can sprout all kinds of legumes, but my go-to’s are mung beans and brown lentils because I just love them. I sprout them together in the same jar, because I love the texture combination. Note that the older they get, the less viable the seeds (which is fine for cooking, but less ideal for sprouting). Read on for my lentil sprouting instructions!
What You’ll Need:
A Glass Jar
Any glass jar will do!
Legumes or Seeds
No need to go out in search of fancy sprouting lentils, regular, ordinary dried lentils from anywhere will do fine. I usually buy mine from the bulk section of grocery stores because the older they get, the less viable they are for sprouting. I also love sprouting mung beans and chickpeas, using this same method. For smaller seeds, check out these sprouting seed packs.
A Sprouting Lid (Optional)
While you don’t need a fancy sprouting lid to make sprouts (I’ve been known to sprout lentils when camping or traveling using whatever I have around) they do make rinsing the sprouts quicker and easier.
The plastic sprouting screens made by Masontops (above) are my favorite thing ever. They fit on any wide mouthed jar, and are pure design genius. The spout in the center helps direct the water into the jar, and the feet make it easy to stand upside down to drain without needing to prop it up on something. This is important for preventing mold, especially in wetter climates. I prefer plastic sprouting lids (metal ones can get a bit rusty after a while) but I’ve used metal ones too and love them. If you’re looking for metal sprouting screens, I recommend these ones which you can buy cheaply on Amazon.
Instructions for Sprouting Lentils
It takes about 3 days for lentils to begin to sprout tails, at which point they are edible. I like to eat them after about 5 days, when their tails are longer and they are more like crunchy vegetables. They are living food, so you can start eating them around day 4 and keep rinsing and eating them all week as they continue to grow. Pop them in the fridge if you want to stop their growth, and they will keep for a while as long as you continue to rinse them occasionally.
Step 1: Soak overnight
First you need to soak the seeds or legumes in water overnight to wake them up from their long, dormant, seed slumber. (They are seeds after all, destined to grow into plants!)
- Fill the jar about 1/4 of the way with green lentils, mung beans, or whatever legumes you want to sprout. They will expand a TON, depending on how long you grow them for. You can always transfer them to a larger container later if you need to, so don’t stress about it. Fill to the top with water, cover with something (or don’t, whatever) and let sit on the counter overnight.
Step 2: Rinse in the morning
- In the morning, pour them into a strainer to drain, gently toss and rinse under running water. Return to the jar. They should be wet, but not sitting in any standing water. Or, use your handy dandy sprouting jar.
- Cover them with a lid or towel to prevent fruit flies, and turn them upside down (the reason I love this lid) on a plate or at an angle so that any remaining water can drain out and prevent mold.
- Store somewhere dark (cupboard, pantry, room without sunlight) and let them do their sprouty thing.
Step 3: Rinse before bed
- Do the same thing you did in the morning. You just want to rinse them every morning and every night so that they don’t get funky. You will notice them beginning to sprout.
Step 4: Repeat until sprouted to your liking!
- Keep rinsing them morning and night for a couple of days. You can start eating them when they start to sprout little tails, and you can keep them going on the counter for about a week. I find that mung beans get sprouty tails quickly and lentils take a bit longer. Sometimes I get impatient and eat the lentils before they have sprouty tails, it’s ok to eat them as soon as they are crunchy like a vegetable, and not hard like a dried lentil.
- If you like the amount of sproutiness and want to stop their growth, you can pop them in the fridge to stunt their growth and rinse every other day or so.
How to Use Your Lentil Sprouts
Add sprouted lentils into salads, bowls, stir fries, on top of hummus and crackers, in sandwiches, or just eat them as a snack! Check out this roundup post of 15 ways to use lentil sprouts!