Trends


Trends: Sprouting & Soaking

Written by Rebbecca Hagler | Reviewed by Adiana Castro, MS, RDN, CDN, CLT

Lately, blogs, health food stores and gym fanatics galore have all been raving about 'sprouting,' and ‘soaking’ a new trend amongst fans of the raw food diet. Sprouting, on a basic level, is far from anything new—it is the process of making legumes, grains, nuts and seeds more digestible by repeatedly soaking and rinsing them until they sprout. Seeds, as a food source, are nutrient rich, but not highly digestible by humans. Typically when eaten unsprouted, they pass through us indigested. This is coupled with the fact that many seeds contain anti-nutrients (substances that prevent the absorption of nutrients we need), or other compounds that can be toxic or cause damage to human health, like lectin. Phytic acid is contained in many seeds, and it binds to minerals like calcium, magnesium, iron, copper and zinc, making them unavailable to us when we eat foods in seed form. Sprouting neutralizes phytic acid and makes the minerals available to us. Sprouting also breaks down the complex sugars that often cause gas and bloating when eating seeds and beans, making them easier to digest.

Over the past centuries, humans have adapted to make these seeds edible by sprouting, soaking or fermenting them, and this tradition has been handed down in local populations for hundreds of years. Recently, as a raw food diet has surged into popularity, often in urban millennial populations, the tradition of sprouting has come back into vogue as a way to diversify food and nutrient sources while complying with the raw diet. The sprouting process essentially tricks seeds into believing its surrounding conditions are strong for growth and disables anti-nutrients and carcinogens in grains, while making them more digestible. Sprouting turns seeds and locked away nutrients into little plants, with many available nutrients. Sprouting is easy, can be done in an apartment kitchen, and requires no special training or equipment. 

How to Sprout/Soak (see table below for food guide and times):

  1. Soak seeds overnight in warm water
  2. Remove from soak, and rinse them 2-3 times daily, while resting in a tilted bowl of specialty vessel. 
  3. Sprouts will be ready when 1/4 inch long, usually 2-4 days depending on seed. 
  4. When ready, dry completely, store in fridge and eat or cook within 3 days. 

Remember to avoid cross-contamination and bacteria by purchasing organic fresh products, wash your hands thoroughly before handling food, and keep sprouting equipment and all kitchen surfaces clean to avoid cross contamination.

Don’t have time to sprout yourself, here are some purchase options.

Sprouting and Soaking Guide

NUTS

  • Almonds: needs 2-12 hours for soaking. Sprout for 2-3 days if truly raw.
  • Walnuts: 4 hours soaking, do not sprout
  • Brazil Nuts: 3 hours soaking, do not sprout
  • Cashews: 2- 3 hours soaking, do not sprout
  • Pinenuts: do not soak or sprout
  • Hazelnuts: 8 hours soaking, do not sprout
  • Macadamias: 2 hours soaking, do not sprout
  • Pecans: 6 hours soaking, do not sprout
  • Pistachios: 8 hours soaking, do not sprout
  • Flaxseeds: do not soak or sprout
  • Chia Seeds: do not soak or sprout
  • Hemp Seeds: do not soak or sprout

BEANS & LEGUMES

  • Chickpeas: 8-12 hours soaking, 2-3 days for sprouting
  • Lentils: 8 hours soaking, 2-3 days for sprouting
  • Adzuki Beans: 8 hours soaking, 2-3 days for sprouting
  • Black Beans: 8-12 hours soaking, 3 days for sprouting
  • White beans: 8 hours soaking, 2-3 days for sprouting
  • Mung Beans: 24 hours soaking, 2-5 days for sprouting
  • Kidney Beans: do not soak or sprout
  • Navy Beans: 9-12 hours soaking, 2-3 days for sprouting
  • Peas: 9-12 hours soaking, 2-3 days for sprouting

GRAINS

  • Buckwheat Grains: 30 minutes-6 hours soaking, 2-3 days for sprouting
  • Amaranth Grains: 8 hours soaking, 1-3 days for sprouting
  • Kamut: 7 hours soaking, 2-3 days for sprouting
  • Millet: 8 hours soaking, 2-3 days for sprouting
  • Oat Groats: 6 hours soaking, 2-3 days for sprouting
  • Quinoa: 4 hours soaking, 1-3 days for sprouting
  • Wheat Berries: 7 hours soaking, 3-4 days for sprouting
  • Wild Rice: 9 hours soaking, 3-5 days for sprouting
  • Black Rice: 9 hours soaking, 3-5 days for sprouting

SEEDS

  • Radish Seeds: 8-12 hours soaking, 3-4 days for sprouting
  • Alfalfa Seeds: 12 hours soaking, 3-5 days for sprouting
  • Pumpkin Seeds: 8 hours soaking, do not sprout
  • Sesame Seeds: 8 hours soaking, do not sprout
  • Sunflower Seeds: 8 hours soaking, do not sprout

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