DIY Sprouting Jar Tutorial for You and Your Chickens

Lentil SproutsYou have probably heard all the hype over sprouted grains lately. It is a simple process where you sprout things like wheat, lentils, beans, spelt, millet, alfalfa, etc. in a jar on your kitchen counter and then sprinkle the results over your salads and sandwiches.

Sprouts are packed with vitamins and nutrients that are normally destroyed during processing or cooking. Growing some fresh is an excellent way to add nutrition to your diet. But I don’t grow sprouts very often for myself…

I grow sprouts mostly for my chickens.

Okay I know it sounds silly, but sprouts are easy and fun to grow and the chickens love them. Sure, I can grow sprouts for myself too, but the girls get so excited over these things, I just end up giving them all away. The chickens get extra nutrients and they eat it up like it’s candy.

It’s the same procedure whether you are sprouting for yourself or your chickens. So, let me give you the low down on how its done. Then you can decide for yourself who gets the resulting nutrition packed greens.

Now, I should also note here that I sometimes grow foraging sprouts in trays and window boxes for my girls. But they seem to enjoy these kitchen counter sprouts so much more and will devour them in minutes. It is probably because they get the complete seed here rather than just the tops poking out of the dirt. I have another post coming up soon that explains foraging trays. But for now, this post is just on the sprouts…

How To Make A Sprouting Jar

How To Make A Sprouting Jar

  1. You need a canning jar and a sprouting lid. Although you can buy a sprouting jar lid for about $5 each, I need several. So I just make my own for pennies.
  2. To make your own lid, use plastic needlepoint sheets found at the craft store. (Just ask at the store and they will point you in the right direction.) They come in different colors and only cost $0.50 per sheet. You can make 6 wide mouth sprouting lids per each 13 x 10.50 inch sheet. That’s a good deal! Note: Some people use wire mesh, but it can rust. You can also use cheesecloth or a piece of nylon stockings. But I find the needlepoint sheets to be the best method.
  3. Use a canning jar lid as your template and scissors to cut out rounds of plastic.
  4. The circles fit perfectly inside a canning lid ring and are washable and long lasting.

Growing The Sprouts

How To Grow Sprouts

  1. Add 1-2 Tablespoons of seed to your glass jar. How much depends upon the size of the jar. For example, I typically use 1.5 tablespoons of red wheat berries in my quart-sized jar. Don’t add too much or the seeds won’t have room to grow. Try to use organic seed from the health food store so you know it is not sprayed with sprouting inhibitors. Most health food stores even have a “sprout” section where you can buy special seeds just for this purpose, but they tend to be very expensive. I buy in bulk in the bean/grain section of the store.
  2. Fill the jar with water and set it soak on the counter for about 6-8 hours. I usually do this at night and then drain the water in the morning.
  3. After soaking, drain out the water. Then fill and drain one more time to rinse and set the jar in a dark area of the counter (not in direct sunlight).

How to Grow Sprouts

4) Twice a day, (I do morning and night) fill the jar with water and drain it out. (You are just moistening the seeds). Tip the jar upside down into a bowl for a few minutes each time to be sure all the water is drained out. That’s all you do!

5) After as little as 2 days, your seeds will begin sprouting but are white! At this point…

Growing Sprouts

Lay the jar on its side and let it get some light for a few more days so the sprouts can green up a bit. (I set mine on the bright/sunny kitchen table.) Then serve! You can store them in the refrigerator and they will continue to grow, but they will still need to be moistened every day.

The whole process takes about 4-6 days depending upon the seed. Let me know if you give it a try!



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About the Author

Theresa Loe is the Co-Executive TV Producer and the On-Air Canning/Homesteading Expert for the national PBS gardening TV series, Growing A Greener World. She is a lifetime canner and a graduate of the Master Food Preserver Program. She studied both sustainable horticulture and professional culinary arts and she is a wrangler of chickens and two teenage children. (Not necessarily in that order.)

{ 58 comments… add one }

  • Dennis June 4, 2012 at 10:08 am

    Great post! Thank you very much. I will use this a lot!

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  • Kylee from Our Little Acre June 4, 2012 at 10:15 am

    Using the plastic needlepoint canvas is BRILLIANT! I got a sprouter for Christmas and have yet to use it, even though I also have the seeds I need to do it. I need to get off my butt and just DO it!

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    • theresa June 4, 2012 at 10:19 am

      Hi Kylee~
      I saw that everyone was using wire mesh and complaining about it rusting. I saw the plastic needlepoint canvas at the craft store and thought “Wow! This would work perfectly!” So, that’s how I did it.

      Growing the sprouts in incredibly easy. I just got some broccoli seeds for myself to try. (Not for the chickens) They are supposed to be super packed with nutrients.

      Reply edit
  • TeresaR June 4, 2012 at 12:49 pm

    I agree with Kylee: that is brilliant! I’m smacking my head going “why didn’t I think of that?” ;)

    We have 4 tiered bean sprouter, but I think this method is tons easier than what we have. Plus we always have lots of canning jars lying around so we can sprout several things at the same time.

    Thanks so much for this idea!

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  • Paula Morhardt June 4, 2012 at 4:16 pm

    Love this idea, one question. I have never tried sprouting things, because I had read you could get botulism or some such thing. Is there things I need to watch for? This seems so easy, and am wondering if I am missing something…

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    • theresa June 4, 2012 at 6:12 pm

      Excellent question Paula. You have probably heard about the dangers of raw sprouts with e-coli and salmonella. (Botulism can only grow in an anaerobic environment – meaning no air. So it is not the problem with raw sprouts.) The contaminated sprouts were commercial sprouts sold in the stores. There is a danger of that sort of contamination if the rinse water is contaminated or if the seeds are contaminated. Your water should be clean (or else you would get sick from drinking it), so your only worry would be with the seed source. From what I understand, there has never been a case of either bacteria from organic seed. They have special requirements in order to be certified organic. And the 2 X per day rinsing keeps other bacteria at bay. If however, you have a weakened immune system it would not be a good idea to risk it.

      I hope that helps.

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      • Paula Morhardt June 4, 2012 at 7:23 pm

        Yes, thank you, that answers it very well. I wondered if that was the case, so now I know! And, now I know what to do with the pieces of plastic canvas I have in the bottom drawer in my craft room!!!!!

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  • debbie T June 6, 2012 at 8:18 am

    brilliant! I’ve always wanted to make my own sprouting cover, but they all said to use metal screen, and that never seemed sanitary to me. This is a great idea!!! Thank you!

    Reply edit
    • theresa June 6, 2012 at 8:23 am

      Thanks Debbie. I had the same feelings. Plus the idea that it might rust really bothered me! This seemed like the perfect solution.

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  • Carol June 24, 2012 at 12:53 pm

    Hi! I’m new to your blog, but discovered GGW a year ago. Watch it faithfully. Really enjoyed the episode on chickens & your garden! Seeing this post on making your sprouts reminded me of the plastic sprout lids from many years ago. I loved making sprouts back then. Thanks for all your helpful info & pics : )

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    • theresa June 24, 2012 at 1:06 pm

      Hi Carol-
      I’m so glad you found me here! Thank you for being a fan of GGW. We are about to launch season 3. Can’t wait to show you what we have coming up!

      Reply edit
  • Michele July 10, 2012 at 12:09 am

    Hey! I found you via the Barn Hop. I love this tutorial and really want to try this. But I have a newbie question: Do you… cook the beans/seeds or are they edible raw?

    Reply edit
    • theresa July 10, 2012 at 5:37 am

      Hi Michele,

      So glad you found me! I’m sorry I was not more clear – that is a good question. The seeds are uncooked (or they won’t sprout) and you after they sprout, most people eat them sprouts raw (in salads or on sandwiches, etc). But you can also add the sprouts to a stir-fry or other dish and cook them if you wish.

      Hope that helps!

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  • Vicki July 10, 2012 at 6:32 am

    This is a great idea! I wanted to share another tip for the plasic mesh: cut into circles and place in food deydrator trays to prevent small pieces from falling through the trays. I did this just days ago. Wish I had seen this tip before I threw away the scraps. They would have worked perfectly for sprouting lids!

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  • Felicia July 18, 2012 at 6:27 am

    Okay, so I have never sprouted before! Now that I have rinsed the beans for two days, and have put it in my window to get sunlight, do I still need to rinse each day?

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  • Lisa/Fresh Eggs Daily Farm Girl September 28, 2012 at 5:34 pm

    I just found you through a blog hop and am thrilled to read this! A friend gave me a bag of mung beans and told me to sprout them for us to eat – or for our chickens and I had NO idea how the heck to do that ! Now I know! Thank you ! This post could not have been more timely.

    I wonder if I could persuade you to link up to my Farm Girl Friday Blog Fest:

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    • theresa January 16, 2013 at 3:18 am

      Hi Lisa – So sorry I missed this comment before! I follow you on Facebook and am a big fan of your website. Lots of great info. I will have to do the blog fest soon!


      Reply edit
  • Pam January 15, 2013 at 5:30 pm

    Love the idea for sprouts for my girls. What are some of the best sprouts for chickens? Found you through BYC. My husband has done this before planting in the garden but we don’t eat them our selves. Thanks for the tips.

    Reply edit
    • theresa January 16, 2013 at 3:16 am

      Hi Pam -

      My girls LOVE wheat berry sprouts. That is their favorite. I buy it at the healthfood store so that it is unsprayed. I also do whole green peas. I know some people like to sprout bird seed or even some of their scratch for the birds.

      So you found me via Backyard Chickens? Was this post mentioned in a comment thread? That’s great! I’m so glad you found me!

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  • Diana January 23, 2013 at 10:43 pm

    Brilliant idea about the plastic needlepoint canvas for screening. I just happen to have a sheet around and already have the Mason jars… so I’m all set!

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  • Dave January 27, 2013 at 7:55 pm

    I have grown bean sprouts this way for years but bean sprouts are about $2.50 for what grows in a quart jar. Taht’s alot, I would like to grow them and harvest the seeds or find them somewhere in bulk cheaper. The stores where I live have stoped carrying fresh bean sprouts because they say they have been having too many problems with people getting sick. when I first start my seeds I will rinse them then put 2 cups water and 2 table spoons bleach and let them sit for 15 minutes then rinse several times.

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  • Dave January 30, 2013 at 12:10 pm

    It’s a 2% bleach solution (1 tsp. to 1 cup water ) for 15 minutes. It’s been a while since I grew them, sorry my mistake. I have never had a germination problem, about 90% germination and the taste is amazing.

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  • Dave January 30, 2013 at 12:23 pm

    Great site DaveL! Lots of great links in there too. Good to know the actual numbers of cases and the facts about organic seeds. Thanks

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  • Emily Sullivan March 23, 2013 at 8:42 am

    THANK you for the great idea about the needlepoint sheets, brilliant! Soaking seeds or beans can harbor bacteria, but I recommend to anyone to search for articles on safety procedures. Using organic seeds, changing the rinse water 2 to 3 times a day, allowing for air flow and using citric acid can make the whole process safe and healthy!!

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  • Karyli April 5, 2013 at 7:18 pm

    I’m wondering if smaller seeds fall through the screen – like alfalfa?

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    • theresa April 10, 2013 at 6:57 am

      Yes Karyli – I imagine that tiny seeds would. So far none of the ones I have used do. However, I have also seen people use a circle of the same wire mesh you get at the big box stores to replace screen door screen. It is a bit finer weave and I think that would hold in even the smallest of seeds. Just got to the home improvements store and look in the same area as windows and screen doors. They have rolls of the wire mesh for sale. Hope that helps!

      Reply edit
  • Therese May 12, 2013 at 6:53 am

    I have 27 hens and 2 roosters and they love the greens from the garden so I will be trying this for sure and will let you know how it goes. I do find that the more greens I give them the better the eggs. Happy chickens are a good thing:)

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  • Al May 15, 2013 at 9:47 am

    Do you think the needlepoint plastic is food safe? It is touching your sprouts for extended periods of time. I just worry about plastics and all the chemicals coming off of them.

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    • theresa May 21, 2013 at 8:22 am

      I do not know if the needlepoint plastic is food safe, but it is not touching the food other than when you tip the jar to pour out the water – and then it only touches for about 3 seconds. For me this is acceptable. But everyone has their own comfort zone.

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  • Emily Sullivan May 22, 2013 at 4:01 pm

    I have found that mold is growing between the needlepoint plastic and the metal ring. Bummer. It WOULD have been a great option for me, but I’m freaked out about about the mold… :(

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  • EricHou June 5, 2013 at 6:40 am

    I need make a sprout jar just yours. thanks for the information.

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  • Karen September 16, 2014 at 2:37 am

    Great idea with the mesh! But how do you cut the lid? Or is it a lid made with just the rim and no top? I don’t think I’ve ever come accross that – must be a cultural difference :)

    I guess rubber bands and cheesecloth will have to do. Or maybe I’ll poke some holes in a plastic lid. Either way, I have to try it out. It’s the most approachable DIY I’ve come across :)

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  • Myra October 5, 2014 at 6:16 pm

    I think Karen meant the lid rings, not the plastic mesh. Where did you get those? Did you buy them ready with holes or did you make them yourself?

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    • theresa October 7, 2014 at 6:13 am

      Hi Myra – The rings come that way on canning jars. A standard canning jar has a two part system: the ring and the flat lid (which are not used here).

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  • Myra October 5, 2014 at 6:35 pm

    Okay. Sorry. Now I did some research and found out that an authentic mason jar has a detachable lid. (??)

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  • Heather November 9, 2014 at 6:14 pm

    This is an awesome idea! I was looking for ideas to make a sprouting jar because it seemed like there must be an easier, cheaper version than buying the sprouting jar lids off of e-bay for way too much, and I knew that screen mesh would rust and be too flimsy anyway. Love the plastic needlepoint mesh!!! Thank you from the bottom of my fermenting jar. ;)

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