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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. 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 founder of Living Homegrown® and the Canning Academy® and is the Co-Executive Producer & Canning Expert on the national PBS gardening series, Growing A Greener World®. Theresa homesteads on just 1/10th of an acre in Los Angeles with her husband, two teenage boys and several disorderly but totally adorable chickens. Learn more about Living Homegrown here and about the Canning Academy here.


  • Dennis says:

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

  • 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!

    • theresa says:

      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.

  • TeresaR says:

    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!

    • theresa says:

      Thanks Teresa. I do several jars at once too. Plus, I can have jars at different stages of growth this way.

  • Paula Morhardt says:

    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…

    • theresa says:

      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.

      • Paula Morhardt says:

        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!!!!!

      • I wouldn’t be too worried whether your seeds are organic or not…organic seeds can be coated too. Just because something is labeled organic does not mean it is somehow better or ‘safer’. You can get conventional seed that is not coated. Anyway, I am sprouting some radish seed for my chickettes; my daughter loves them on sandwiches, wraps, and fish tacos!

  • debbie T says:

    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!

    • theresa says:

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

  • Carol says:

    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 : )

    • theresa says:

      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!

  • Michele says:

    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?

    • theresa says:

      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!

  • Vicki says:

    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!

  • Felicia says:

    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?

  • 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:

    • theresa says:

      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!


  • Pam says:

    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.

    • theresa says:

      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!

  • Diana says:

    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!

  • Dave says:

    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.

  • Dave says:

    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.

  • Dave says:

    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

  • Emily Sullivan says:

    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!!

  • Karyli says:

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

    • theresa says:

      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!

      • Kayla Todd says:

        I use screening for screen doors, but not the wire kind. They have it in plastic too. And it works great with alfalfa seed. I have scraps left over when I replace screens.

  • Therese says:

    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:)

  • Al says:

    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.

    • theresa says:

      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.

    • Good comment…. I am also concerned… but I believe what Theresa said may be acceptable. I would wash the plastic sheet very well prior to using to get the initial lower molecular weight stuff off.

  • Emily Sullivan says:

    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… 🙁

  • EricHou says:

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

  • Karen says:

    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 🙂

  • Myra says:

    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?

    • theresa says:

      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).

  • Myra says:

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

  • Heather says:

    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. 😉

  • I just sprouted mung beans for my chickens.
    I have two year old organic seeds (various kinds) that I won’t be using in the garden this year…..could I give those a try?

    • theresa says:

      Yes Karen. This is a great way to use up old seed. Even if you have a low yield, I think it is better than throwing them out.

  • Danna says:

    I to am so glad I found you. Were stopping at Michaels on the way home when I get the seeds I’ll be a first timer

  • Caitie says:

    I’ve been wanting to try this for my goats. They LOVE special treatment .. and food is definitely the key to their hearts lol. Where can I get the grain/seeds to use for this? As far as I know our local feed store only carries sweet feed n pellets.

    • Caitie says:

      nvm 🙂 I see you already mentioned this 🙂

    • theresa says:

      You can use any grains or seeds that are untreated. Some seeds (especially for planting) are sprayed or treated to prevent sprouting. I use organic seed from the healthfood store. It is sold specifically for sprouting or for cooking. But any seed for food consumption should be fine.

  • eugenia says:

    hi great idea for the needle point mesh, I was wondering does anybody knows if the lentils you buy to cook can work for sprouting? thanks in advance

  • Ashley says:

    Hi! Great information, thanks!! Question – do I detach the sprouts from the beans before I feed them to my girls or do I serve it all to them?? I’m a new chicken mom and trying to do it right!!

  • Andrea says:

    Neat idea, but won’t the metal lids rust? I’ve had the metal life rust before…

  • Phil says:

    Ok, it seems no one has realized the big problem here. Great idea and all BUT folks, that “Made In China” plastic needle working screen is in NO way food grade and safe to come in contact with our greens – in any way. I would not eat sprouts that have been rinsed through that toxic plastic material. The metal screens rust because everyone apparently bought cheap metal. You get a flat STAINLESS STEEL strainer, that will not rust.

    • Kayla Todd says:

      You could use the flat discs used on a canning jar after making holes in it with a drill bit or pounding nails through it. That would be food grade. I’ve done this.

  • Keiko says:

    I soak my seeds with a little citric or ascorbic acid powder dissolved in the water since they would help prevent molding.

  • Michelle says:

    I have heard of various health ailments that can happen when humans eat sprouts that have grown bacteria on them… Can this affect chickens too? Or are they born to just digest that kind of stuff and not have a problem? I worry about getting them sick.

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