Wondering how to grow alfalfa sprouts? It's really easy, and I'll show you how in this quick tutorial - all you need are alfalfa seeds, a jar and some cheesecloth.
We all have a little more time at home right now, and what better way to use that time than by growing our own food? I'm not talking about complicated methods or full-on gardening, but simply growing your own alfalfa.
I grew up with a mother who used to sprout alfalfa seeds regularly (yes, I was that kid at school) so have known how to grow them since childhood. Because of this, I've always loved the taste of crunchy fresh sprouts in sandwiches and salads.
It's not just the taste though - sprouts are also really good for you, being high in vitamin C, K and iron among other things. Sprouting seeds and beans greatly increases their nutrient quality, and makes them easier for us to digest.
However you use them (in sandwiches, salads, smoothies or stir-fries), they're an incredibly delicious and versatile little food that really doesn't get enough kudos. So read on to see how to do it!
Growing Alfalfa Sprouts - They're So Easy!
Alfalfa is very easy and cheap to grow at home, with a packet of seeds costing just a few dollars (that will last you a while!). I definitely recommend ensuring you've soaked the seeds for 6+ hours first though, as this will help make the sprouting process much easier and faster!
You don't need any fancy equipment: a large glass jar, cheesecloth and an elastic band will do the job. I actually have a seed sprouter (essentially a tiered system where the water drips down through different levels), and whilst it is helpful, it's definitely not essential. You can grow great sprouts in just a jar, so keep scrolling for the recipe!
These instructions can be used for any seeds you want to sprout, even though I'm using alfalfa here. It's one of the most popular but there are loads of other seeds you can use: clover, broccoli, radish etc. All have different nutritional profiles and flavours. Experiment with a few to see what you like - or even make up your own mix!
Alfalfa Sprout FAQs
1) How long does it take to grow alfalfa sprouts?
Tiny sprouts should begin to form within about 2 days. From there, it takes about another 2 days for the sprouts to grow longer, turn green and be ready to harvest.
2) Where can I buy alfalfa seeds?
You can usually buy alfalfa seeds for sprouting in your local health food store. Alternatively, large stores like Whole Foods usually sell a decent selection of seeds for sprouting, and sometimes you can even find them in your local supermarket.
3) What can I use to cover my jar instead of cheesecloth?
If you don't have any cheesecloth, a piece of old (clean) tights, stockings or pantyhose will work.
4) Why do you add a pinch of salt when you first soak the seeds?
As with soaking the seeds, adding sea salt helps encourage germination and reduces enzyme inhibitors, making the seeds sprout a faster! Whilst soaking and adding salt aren't essential steps, they make the process easier.
How to Grow Alfalfa Sprouts at Home
- Small bowl
- Fine meshed sieve
- 1 large mason jar
- Piece of cheesecloth or clean piece of old tights/pantyhose
- 2 tbsp alfalfa seeds
- sea salt
- Place seeds in a small bowl. Cover in twice their volume of water and add a pinch of sea salt to help encourage sprouting. Leave seeds to soak on a countertop overnight (or for 6+ hours).
- In the morning, drain and rinse seeds through a fine meshed sieve.
- Place seeds in a mason jar. Cover the jar's mouth with a piece of cheesecloth and secure with an elastic band.
- Leave jar on its side on countertop to allow seeds to spread out and sprout.
- In evening, pour about ½ cup fresh water into the jar (you don't need to remove the cheesecloth for this - I usually just pour the water straight through it).
- Swill water around in jar and then tilt it to drain water out again immediately. Leave jar on its side on countertop to sprout.
- Repeat this 'pouring & swilling' process each morning and evening for about 4 days, until sprouts are roughly 3-5cm in length with green tips.
- Remove sprouts from jar, rinse thoroughly to remove husks and store refrigerated in a sealed container until needed.
- That's it! Use in sandwiches, salads and smoothies. (Sprouts will keep for about 3-4 days if refrigerated.)
If you’ve tried this recipe, please leave a comment or tip for others below. I'd love to know how you’ve made it your own!