Sprouting 101 and a Sprouted Hummus Recipe

Posting our homemade sprouted hummus a few weeks ago sparked a lot of comments and emails about how-to and why-to sprout beans.  I thought I would do a little digging for you, and (hopefully) provide some fun information here so that sprouting seems a little less scary.  Let’s dig in…

WHY Sprout?  

Sprouting is the process of soaking grains and beans so that they germinate, bringing them to the beginning stages of becoming a plant – crazy, right?  While I would love to offer you my own well-worded take on sprouting, I find that it is best to leave it to the professionals.  We started sprouting after reading Brendan Brazier’s Thrive book, so here is his take that convinced us to give it a try ourselves…

The sprout occupies a transitional phase in a plant life cycle.  Having yet to form roots, the sprout, a new growth from the germinating seed, cannot feed itself and much rely on the nutrients contained within the seed.  Once activated by moisture, enzymes begin to utilize nutrients supplied in the seed as a rapid growth fuel.  The plant equivalent of mother’s milk, densely packed nutrients in the seed quickly convert the sprout into a plant with leaves.

Throughout the sprout’s rapid growth phase, digestive enzyme inhibitors are expelled; proteins are converted to amino acids; and fats to essential fatty acids; and a form of pre-digestion occurs, making for a very efficient food. Power-packed with vitamins, minerals, chlorophyll, and enzymes, sprouting greatly enhances the efficiency and nutrient value of the seed.

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As you can see, soaking and sprouting plays a big role in making grains and beans more easily digestible.  Terry Walters also does a great job of explaining why and how in her inspiring new cookbook, Clean Food

The longer a grain (or bean) soaks, the closer it gets to germinating (sprouting), the more nutritious and easier to digest it becomes, and the less water and time are required for cooking.  Phytic acid is found in grains, legumes, and seeds.  This acid binds to minerals and proteins and decreases the body’s ability to absorb and utilize these nutrients.  Fortunately, phytic acid in grains and beans is water soluble, so by soaking for a minimum of one hour, the phytic acid washes away, leaving you with a significantly improved ingredient. 

Okay that’s enough science for now.  Let’s move on to the HOW, so that you can get started!  You won’t believe how easy this is…

HOW to Sprout…

Step 1:  Sort the beans– Check your beans first, and make sure you toss any broken, cracked, or shriveled beans as they won’t cook properly.  Also check to make sure that no rocks have snuck in with your beans.

Step 2:  Soaking – Soaking in water rehydrates the beans and removes the phytic acid (mentioned above).  Place them in a bowl or jar and cover with water.  They will swell up significantly, so make sure to leave extra room!  Soaking overnight is best – most beans need at least 8 hours.

Step 3:  Drain and rinse – Once you have rinsed, you need to make sure the beans stay moist by rinsing them frequently – at least two times a day.  In hotter weather or climates, three or four times a day is best.  Because the beans are moist, there is increased potential for bacterial formation.  For this reason it is very important that you rinse frequently and drain well – never leave beans sitting in any standing water or in direct sunlight (no windowsills!). 

Using a jar with cheesecloth on top allows for good ventilation and drainage after rinsing (if jar is stored upside down). 


Step 4:  Waiting – Remember, patience is a virtue – sprouting is not an impulse project.  The amount of time it takes to sprout varies from bean to bean (or grain).  Depending on the bean, total time from soak to sprout can range from just over 24 hours, to almost one week!  (Because the mung beans are so small, they were ready in 1.5 days!)  As a rule, plan to eat the beans once the sprout is about as long as the seed itself.  You will be amazed how quickly these bulk up and grow! 

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Step 5:  Eating the sprouts – once the sprouts have reached the desired length, it’s time to eat!  For these mung beans (pictured), we ate them cold on top of salads, mixed with dressing, in wraps, etc.  Just like un-sprouted beans, there are limitless possibilities! 

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Of course one tasty option is sprouted HUMMUS, which we have made several times, and finally perfected!  Here is the recipe, just for you…

Sprouted Chickpea Hummus

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  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 2 cups sprouted chickpeas
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 tbsp tahini
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1/4 tsp oregano
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (less if you don’t like a spicy kick!)
  • 1/4 tsp coriander
  • 3/4 tsp cumin
  • 3/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 cup water

To Prepare:  Soak and sprout garbanzo beans as detailed above (these took 2-3 days from soaking to final sprouting). 

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First step is to mince the garlic in a food processor.  Make sure to scrape down the sides!

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To the garlic, add 2 cups of your sprouted chickpeas…

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Then add the rest of the ingredients – all the way down the list!

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Once everything has been added, get your food processor going and let it spin!

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The texture will appear chunky at first – just keep scraping down the sides and continuing to let it pulse. 

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Final result should be smooth and creamy!

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You can definitely taste the difference in the sprouted hummus vs. traditional hummus.  There is an earthy rawness from the beans that brings a new elements to classic hummus – delicious!

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Enjoy with crackers and cut vegetables, or my favorite way – in a big glob on top of a gigantic salad – yum!  :)

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Hopefully this clears up some of the mystery surrounding sprouting.  It doesn’t have to be scary or intimidating, and can actually be a fun kitchen adventure.  It never ceases to amaze me all the cool things we can do with our food!  Have fun! :)