January 12, 2012

Adventures in Sprouting

Sprouted Gluten-Free Oats

We have all seen the sprouted bread in the grocery store- its usually right next to the gluten-free bread in the freezer section. But did you know that nutritious sprouted breads and baked goods are not only for non-celiacs? Yes, you too can sprout your own gluten-free grains and have a toothsome and nourishing gluten-free bread.

Why Sprout
Sprouted grains offer a wide variety of benefits over non-sprouted, processed grain flours. Not only does sprouting grains before using them create a living food, it increases vitamin content, neutralizes antinutrients like phytic acid (basically, phytic acid is a substance found in grains that blocks your body's ability to absorb nutrients from food), and allows your body to more efficiently and effectively break down amino acids for better digestion of the whole grain. Plus, they're versatile and delicious!

What to Sprout

Clockwise from top left: Teff, Amaranth, Quinoa, Red Quinoa, Millet, Buckwheat, Gluten-free Oats, Sorghum (center).
There are many types of grains in the world, and believe it or not, more of them are gluten-free than not! Gluten-free grains include:
  • Amaranth
  • Buckwheat (ok, its not really a grain, but the fruit of a plant in the dock family, nutritious and delicious nonetheless)
  • Corn
  • Millet
  • Oats (only if they are grown and processed in dedicated fields and facilities)
  • Quinoa
  • Rice (only short-grain brown rice will sprout)
  • Sorghum (DO NOT sprout sorghum! The sprouts contain toxic levels of cyanide that must be removed prior to consumption, which is a very tedious process)
  • Teff (the smallest grain in the world)
Grains that are NOT gluten-free include:
  • Wheat
  • Rye
  • Barley
  • Spelt
  • Kamut
  • Farro
  • Triticale
Sprouting Methods
There are basically two methods for sprouting grains (and seeds): The jar method and the tray method. I have had great success with both methods and which method you use just depends on the equipment and amount of space you have to do it. I have used both methods and they work equally well.

Jar Method:
You need one large (quart or half-gallon), wide-mouth glass jars and some plastic mesh and lids. You can also get special sprouting lids from just about any natural food store. Note: For sprouting teff and amaranth you will need an extremely fine mesh. I used squares cut from a tea towel and a jar ring.
This method is pretty simple:
  1. Put the grain/seed in the jar and cover with soaking water. Note: Teff and amaranth will need to stirred or shaken after the water is added because the water tends to "float" on top of these tiny grains.
  2. When the soaking time is over, drain water from the grains/seeds and rinse a second time.
  3. Prop the jars, upside down, at a 45 degree angle in a place where they can drain (I put them in bowls) out of direct sunlight.
  4. Rinse the grains/seeds at least 2 times, but preferably 3 times per day, allowing to drain upside down in between rinses, until you see little sprout "tails" start to form.
  5. When the sprouts are the desired length (this depends entirely on your taste but I let mine go about 24 hours after the sprouts first appear)
  6. Process sprouts according to desired method.
Cloth and Tray Method:
For this you will need a water spray bottle, flat, low sided trays, like half-sheet cookie sheets and clean cotton tea towels or pieces of cotton muslin cut to the appropriate size. I use the trays of my food dehydrator and pieces of muslin. I found that the stacking of the dehydrator trays helps retain the moisture during the process.
  1. Soak grains/seeds for appropriate time(s).
  2. Drain grains/seeds and rinse a second time. Note: An easy way to drain the soaked grains is to line a colander with tea towels or cotton muslin you will use and pour the grains into the cloth. Rinse and squeeze excess moisture from cloth.
  3. Spread cloth with grains inside over cookie sheet or dehydrator tray. Spread grains evenly over the surface of the cloth.
  4. Dampen a second cloth and place on top of grains.
  5. Store out of direct sunlight and keep grains moist using the water spray bottle until sprouts are the desired size. You do not want them to be wet, but moist. I found that just spraying the top cloth with the water bottle several times per day kept them properly moist.
  6. Process according to desired method.
Using Your Sprouts
Now that you have coaxed the little grains or seeds to sprout, you get to eat them! You can steam them or eat them raw in salads. If you want to use them in baking, you can either dry them in the oven and grind the dried sprouts into flour (I have never done it this way) or just throw the fresh sprouts into the food processor and grind them into a kind of paste, which is how I make my Vegan Sprouted Bread. Then you can sprout extra and store the excess sprout paste in the freezer for future use!

Soaking Times
  • Amaranth - 2 to 4 hours
  • Buckwheat - 15 to 20 minutes - if you soak it longer than 20 minutes, it will kill the grain
  • Corn - 12 to 14 hours - I have never sprouted corn but give it a try, you might like it!
  • Millet - 8 to 14 hours
  • Oats - 8 to 14 hours - only use certified gluten-free raw oat groats
  • Quinoa - 2 to 4 hours
  • Rice - 12 to 18 hours
  • Teff - 2 to 4 hours


  1. Thanks for posting sprouting info.
    I'm sprouting Teff right now and I wonder when are they ready to eat. Any suggestion(s).
    Thanks again.

  2. Teffcom is the main Teff Company on the planet situated in Tel Aviv, Israel. Teff grain is a conventional organization serving throughout the previous 50 years and the business is traveling through era to generation.We are additionally sending out other exceptional items everywhere throughout the world.