How To Grow Broccoli Sprouts In Your Kitchen

Broccoli Sprouts in Jar

Getty Images/Santiago Urquijo

Growing sprouts is an easy way to provide home-grown food all year long. Sprouts are essentially immature, miniature plants harvested shortly after germination. A wide range of seeds can be grown for sprouts, including broccoli. Learn how to grow broccoli sprouts on your countertop so you can enjoy these nutrition-packed greens in your favorite meals.

Why Grow Broccoli Sprouts?

Sprouts are packed with nutrition. Broccoli sprouts offer a simple way to add more protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals to any dish. They are also an excellent source of sulforaphane, a nutrient with anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties. In fact, broccoli sprouts contain higher amounts of these nutrients than fully-grown broccoli heads.

Broccoli sprouts are not only nutritious, but they are also flavorful. The earthy, zesty taste is similar to mustard greens or radish. They also have a crunchy texture perfect for dressing sandwiches and wraps, or topping pizzas. Try tossing broccoli sprouts into slaws and salads or add them to omelets and stir-fries.

Materials For Growing Sprouts

The sprouting process involves germinating seeds in a moist environment that allows easy harvest of the entire plant. Sprouts can be produced in any container that allows for adequate drainage and aeration and can be easily sterilized. While there are several commercial sprout production systems available, the old-fashioned jar system works quite well.

The traditional method of sprouting is to grow seeds in a wide-mouth glass jar covered with cheesecloth held on by the cap’s metal screw ring or a rubber band. The materials are readily available and very inexpensive. Trim excess cheesecloth around the edge of the metal ring or rubber band to limit wicking of water, which can cause a mess on countertops. 

One drawback to using cheesecloth is the difficulty of properly draining water from the sprouts. This can be easily remedied by replacing the cheesecloth with a mesh screen lid, which provides better airflow and easier drainage. The jar system with either cheesecloth or a mesh lid is great for sprouting broccoli seeds, as well as beans, peas, grains, nuts, leafy greens, and other brassicas. This system is not recommended for mucilaginous seeds such as chia, arugula, cress, and flax, or large mung beans which are difficult to remove from the jars.

Best Broccoli Seeds For Sprouting

When it comes to growing sprouts, seed selection is very important. Be sure to purchase untreated seed that is specifically labeled for sprouting. Many seeds that are sold for garden use have been treated with fungicides that are not safe to eat. Another reason to look for sprouting seeds is cost. Broccoli seeds sold for garden growth are generally hybrid varieties or traditionally bred cultivars selected for large heads and other production traits. These seeds are expensive and unnecessary for sprouting, as sprouts are harvested when immature. Seeds labeled for sprouting come in larger quantities at a lower cost per ounce.

How To Sprout Broccoli Seeds

To grow broccoli sprouts using the jar method you will need:

  • broccoli seeds
  • a one-quart wide mouth glass jar
  • a bowl or tray to capture draining water
  • cheesecloth or a mesh cap to cover the jar

Start by thoroughly cleaning all equipment. Wash sprouting jars, lids, and catch trays in warm soapy water and rinse well. Alternatively, you can sterilize sprouting tools in boiling water, much as you would if you are canning, or use a bleach solution or food-grade hydrogen peroxide wash. Food safety is critical when it comes to handling, growing, and storing sprouts. Always begin with clean hands and tools.

Washing And Soaking Seeds

For a quart-sized Mason jar, use 2 tablespoons of broccoli seeds. The seeds will increase in size considerably during the sprouting process. Before sprouting, the seeds need to be washed and soaked. Measure seeds into the Mason jar and fill with enough water to cover the seeds by one inch. Stir the contents, then skim off and discard any seed hulls and seeds that float to the surface. Research has shown that most potential for contamination comes from these seed coats. It may seem like a lot of work, but it is well worth the effort for a safe start to sprouting. 

Drain the rinse water and repeat rinsing a few times, again skimming off any floating hulls or seeds. Once the seed is clean, cover with several inches of water and allow the seeds to soak overnight or at least eight hours. Soaking brings all the seed to uniform moisture content and helps begin the germination process.

Rinse, Drain, Repeat 

The sprouting process consists of simply rinsing and draining the seeds every 8-12 hours, or two to three times per day. Start by draining off the water used to soak the seeds, then rinse the seeds very well in lukewarm water. Draining the seeds thoroughly is very important for the remainder of the sprouting period. Shake the jar vigorously in a circular motion to utilize centrifugal force to pull as much water as possible away from the seeds. While seeds need moisture to germinate and sprout, too much moisture can cause the seeds to ferment and spoil. 

Rinsing also cools down the seed, dissipating heat that builds up from the sprouting seeds. Sprouting seed must not be allowed to overheat or stand in water since anaerobic conditions will develop, which can cause the seed to die or encourage bacterial growth. 

Store Sprouts In Darkness

After draining, set the jar in a bowl or tray at an angle with the opening facing down to allow any excess water to drain. If you use a sprouting lid with “feet,” you can place the jar upside down, as this design allows for air circulation. Cover the jar with a towel to exclude light and keep it in an undisturbed corner of the kitchen, away from your main food preparation area. Alternatively, you can place the jar in a dark cabinet; just don’t forget to rinse the seeds. 

Sprouts produce well at ambient room temperatures, between 68 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit. The seeds will germinate and begin to grow slender roots and shoots over the next few days. Continue to rinse and drain three times per day until the crop is ready to harvest. 

Harvest Your Sprouts

The optimal harvest time depends largely on personal preference. Taste your sprouts each time you rinse them to see how the flavor changes. In time, you will identify the ideal harvest time. Broccoli sprouts are typically harvested on day four or five. There may be some remaining seed hulls among the sprouts. To remove these, place the sprouts in a shallow dish of water and gently stir to release the hulls, which will float and can be drained or skimmed off. 

Prepare the sprouts for storage by rinsing and draining the sprouts thoroughly, then laying them out on a dish towel to dry for an hour or so. You can also use a salad spinner to remove excess moisture. Store dried sprouts in a sealed bag or jar in the refrigerator for up to three days. It is best to eat sprouts quickly. Grow only what you plan to use in a few days. You can start a succession of sprouting jars a few days apart to keep you in supply of fresh broccoli sprouts all year long.

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