We love raw nuts and seeds. They are incredible for heart health and are loaded with beneficial fats and nutrients. These small yet mighty foods are the perfect replacement for processed snacks. They’re filling, easy to transport, and super versatile. But what about those digestive problems you have every time you eat some?
Is there a way to eliminate this pesky digestive response and make nuts and seeds even healthier and more delicious? Yes, it’s possible. And it’s shockingly easy. Sprouting removes anti-nutrients, increases nutrient density, and improves nutrient availability of your favorite nuts and seeds — here’s how to do it.
What are sprouts?
Spouts are simply germinated nuts and seeds grown without soil and enjoyed before they are fully mature. After soaking seeds to help encourage germination, simply leave sprouts alone (rinsing them a few times a day), and you will be able to enjoy easily digestible nuts and seeds in just a few days. Eat them raw or cook in your favorite recipes.
Top benefits of sprouting nuts and seeds
It’s super easy
Even if you don’t have a green thumb, you can still grow some pretty great sprouts. They don’t require soil, fertilizer, or special equipment and only take up as much space as a mason jar. You will be able to harvest your bounty in about a week, which makes sprouts perfect for people who want results fast.
Antinutrients, a compound naturally occurring in many nuts and seeds, make these foods hard to digest and make many of the beneficial nutrients are unavailable for absorption. These antinutrients are thought to be a form of protection for the seed, as many animals (including humans) often get sick after ingesting them. They also help delay germination until the nut or seed is ripe.
When you sprout a nut or seed, you break down antinutrients and make the minerals accessible for digestion and absorption. Even soaking non-sprouting nuts will help reduce antinutrients.
- Increases nutrient absorption
- Increases fiber content
- Aids in digestion
- Increases antioxidants
- Improves protein availability
How to soak and sprout nuts and seeds
Step 1: Gather materials
- Nuts and seeds — Use seeds or nuts that are organic, raw, unprocessed, and don’t contain any added ingredients. Avoid any that have been roasted or salted.
- Mason jar — Get as many as you need so that each nut or seed type has a container. Wide mouth jars are much more accessible than traditional jars.
- Cheesecloth — Remove the inner part of the mason jar lid and replace it with cheesecloth or mesh.
- Large bowl — This is for soaking the seeds before sprouting. Once again, keep each kind separate if you are sprouting more than one type of seed or nut.
- Sea salt — Always use real, organic salt.
Step 2: Soak
- Cover with water. Place your nuts or seeds in the bowl and cover them with several inches of clean water.
- Add salt. Add about 1/2 teaspoon of organic sea salt to each bowl. Cover the bowl with a kitchen towel to keep out any bugs or dirt.
- Place on your counter for up to 48 hours to soak. How long you soak each seed or nut will depend on the type. Keep in mind some nuts (like walnuts and pecans) have been removed from their shells and will not sprout. Eat them after this soaking phase. Refer to our chart below for soaking and sprouting times.
Step 3: Drain and rinse
After the allotted soaking time, strain your seeds through a fine-mesh sieve and rinse with cool water. Place the soaked seeds into a sterilized mason jar and cover with cheesecloth and a rubber band to hold it in place.
You can also screw it on with the outer ring of the mason jar lid.
Remember, sprouts will quickly fill up your jar as they start to grow, so less is more when it comes to the amount of seed you start with. For seeds, you will usually only need a few tablespoons.
Step 4: Sprout
Flip mason jars over on the counter at an angle to allow any lingering water to drain out; prop them up in a bowl if needed. You don’t want standing water in your jar, which could lead to mold growth.
During this time, rinse your seeds twice a day. You should notice tiny sprouts on the second or third day. Continue rinsing and draining each day until the sprouts reach your desired height. They are safe to eat any time, but most taste best when they are around an inch or two long or in two to three days.
Step 5: Harvest
Once your sprouts reach your desired size, simply rinse them again, drain, and spread them out on a cookie sheet covered with a clean kitchen towel. Let them dry for about an hour before storing or eating.
Storing sprouted nuts and seeds
Ideally, enjoy your sprouts right away in salad or granola as a garnish for stir fry or a delicious snack. Nuts that you soak but don’t sprout can be turned into nut butter or nut milk if you’re feeling ambitious.
However, if you’ve sprouted a lot, it can be hard to use them immediately. Simply wrap your sprouts in a paper towel and place them in a glass storage container in the fridge. They will stay good for about one week.
Many people also enjoy dehydrating sprouts for a delicious on-the-go snack. Place them in the oven at 120 degrees or in a dehydrator until the sprouts are dry and crunchy.
Is it safe?
Many people are concerned about the possibility of mold or bacteria developing during the sprouting process. However, as long as you do each step correctly and keep your tools clean, you are unlikely to introduce any harmful bacteria.
Keep in mind, studies have shown that raw sprouts from the grocery store (those commercially grown) are associated with pathogenic bacteria such as salmonella and E. coli. This is likely due to contaminated equipment or improper growing conditions.
If you plan to eat sprouts, it is much safer to do it at home, where you can ensure a clean and sterile environment without contamination.
Tips and tricks for sprouting nuts and seeds
- Sanitize jars: Always sanitize containers between and before use. Simply drop your jars in a pot of boiling water (make sure they’re submerged) for about 10 minutes. This extra step will give you peace of mind and help ensure clean sprouts.
- Wash your hands
- Purchase sprouting seeds: Though any raw seeds or nuts will likely work, there is a chance that your run-of-the-mill grocery store nuts have been irradiated to stop sprouting during transport. That means you won’t be able to get them to sprout either. Stick to seeds and nuts specifically sold as sprouting seeds.
- It probably isn’t mold: Don’t panic if you see a mold-like substance on your sprouts. It most likely is just fine root hairs that appear when the sprouts are dry. If you follow all of the steps, provide proper airflow, and keep a clean environment, mold shouldn’t be a problem.
The root hairs should disappear when you rinse your seeds; mold won’t. Also, mold will cause your sprouts to smell. If they are stinky or the “mold” sticks around, simply add this batch to the compost bin and start over.
Sprouting nuts and seeds for better health
Who knew it was possible to make such a fantastic health food even better? Sprouting is simple, easy, quick, and will allow your body to digest nuts and seeds with ease while delivering full nutrient potential.
Sprout your nuts and seeds before eating to increase nutrient absorption and improve your digestive response. Enjoy sprouts as a delicious garnish on top of any savory meal, or simply whip up a sprout-based salad for the perfect lunch.
Eat Well · Live Well · Think Well
Medical Review 2022: Dr. Lauren Lattanza NMD