Sprouting Lentils: The Complete Guide For Growers
Lentils are one of the earliest plants to have been domesticated. Archeological evidence points to the first lentil crops having been grown over 10,000 years ago in the ancient middle east. While dried lentils are the most common, lentil sprouts are gaining popularity due to their acclaimed health benefits. Today we will walk you through sprouting lentils and everything you will need to know about the process and what to do with your mature lentil sprouts.
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What Are Lentils?
Lentils are the seeds produced by the annual bushy lentil plant. The seeds are contained in pods that dry up and crack open, releasing the seeds. The plant has quite a large number of varieties, which are often classified according to the size and color of the coat. Lentils can grow on a variety of soil types, but they do not tolerate flooding and waterlogged conditions. They are mostly rotated with cereal crops due to their nitrogen-fixing property.
What are Lentil Sprouts?
Lentil sprouts are 3 to 6-day old lentil shoots that have been intentionally exposed to germination conditions in order for the seeds to grow shoots. The germination process triggers a release of stored nutrients that the young shoot requires, making the sprouts more nutritious compared to the seeds. The germination process also reduces the concentration of trypsin, which is an enzyme found in the dry seeds which inhibits the bioavailability of the nutrients in the seeds. Once this inhibitor is broken down, the nutrients from the grains can be absorbed by the digestive system.
Health Benefits of Lentil Sprouts
1. Increased Protein Content
Lentil seeds are made up of more than 15% protein content when dry. During the germination process, the protein nutrients are made readily available to the young shoot, which makes it much easier for the digestive system to digest and absorb the protein content after consuming lentil sprouts. Protein plays a vital role in restoring worn-out body cells and increases muscle mass. Ref: NCBI.com
2. High Fiber Content
Sprouted lentils are rich in fiber content, which is required for regular bowel movements and supports the establishment of healthy gut bio. This leads to improved gut function, which goes a long way in helping the overall health of the rest of the body. Ref: NCBI.com
3. Increased Mineral Uptake
Sprouting lentils have expanded mineral content such as magnesium, which is necessary for over 300 biochemical reactions in your body, iron, which is required in the formation of hemoglobin, which is found in the blood cells and acts as oxygen transport in the body. Sprouting lentils are also rich in phosphorus, which goes towards the formation of healthy teeth and bones, zinc, which supports a healthy immune system, and manganese which activates enzymes responsible for metabolism. Ref: NCBI.com
4. Contains Polyphenols
Polyphenols are a class of health-promoting phytochemicals found in a variety of plants, including sprouting lentils. Polyphenols have a robust antioxidant effect on the body and can also have an anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective effect on the nervous system. Polyphenols react with free radicles that are produced by the metabolism process; if left to roam freely within the cells, the free radicles would oxidize DNA, causing genetic harm, which often leads to the growth of cancerous cells. Increased polyphenol uptake prevents this from happening. Ref: NCBI.com
5. Cholesterol Control
Consuming lentil sprouts has been shown to increase the levels of good HDL cholesterol while also significantly reducing the levels of bad LDL cholesterol. This prevents the early onset of artery damage, which contributes to heart disease as well as increased risks of developing a stroke. Lentil sprouts also contain folate, which is believed to help in preventing the accumulation of harmful chemicals in the body. Lentil sprouts are also very filling, and they can aid in keeping the blood sugar levels steady, which goes a long way in weight control. Ref: NCBI.com
Which Types of Lentils Can You Sprout?
1. Brown Lentils
Brown lentils have a mild earthy flavor that they retain after sprouting. Sprouted brown lentils can be tossed into a salad or added to a cooked meal such as soups, stews, or even served along with the pasta.
2. Green Lentils
Sprouted green lentils have a mild peppery flavor making them perfect for salads and side dishes.
3. Red Lentils
Red lentil sprouts have a uniquely nutty and sweet flavor, which is excellent for thickening soups or adding to spicy dishes. Red lentils also take the shortest period to sprout; usually by the fourth day, they will be ready to harvest.
Where to Buy the Best Sprout Seeds
Online stores such as Amazon do offer a wide variety of dried and well-preserved lentil seeds for sprouting. Ensure that the seeds are marked explicitly as sprout ready to ensure the highest attainable germination rate. Some online retailers will even include the seeds in custom made sprouting kits for first-timers.
2. In Grocery Stores
Most grocery stores do stock up on various lentil varieties. However, avoid split lentils as they cannot germinate, instead go for whole lentil seeds. If you can not find the specific lentils you are looking for, you can try searching for them in the local bulk food stores.
3. Farmers Market
Local farmer's markets will often have a dry cereal section where you can find locally grown lentils. Unfortunately, such markets do not always offer a wide selection of lentils as the focus is often on locally grown varieties.
Brand - Country Creek Seeds
Quantity - 16oz
Overview - Organic, Non-GMO sprouting seeds, perfect for sprouting, gardening and hydroponics. Country Creek have a strong reputation for quality.
How to Sprout Lentils
There are various methods of sprouting lentils depending on the available equipment and the number of seeds to be sprouted.
How to Sprout Lentils in a Mason Jar
Half gallon wide mouth mason jar
Wire sprouting lid
Sprout ready lentil seeds (by in bulk to cut down the cost)
Fresh tap water
1. Soak around two tablespoons worth of sprout ready lentil seeds in a small bowl filled with water and set aside for 12 hours
2. Drain the slightly swollen seeds with a sieve and transfer them into the sprouting vessel in this case the half gallon wide mouth mason jar
3. Place the wire sprouting lid on the mason jar; this makes it much easier to rinse and drain the sprouting lentils without having to remove them from the jar.
4. Keep the mason jar upside down to ensure proper drainage at all times.
5. Rinse the sprouts every 12 hours and drain the water.
6. Harvest the lentil sprouts after 4 to 6 days
Popular YouTube Lentil Sprouting Videos and Methods
Using A Sprouting Tray
Using A Mason Jar
Freshly harvested lentil sprouts can be stored in the fridge for up to 2 weeks. The cold temperature within the fridge prevents the growth of bacteria, which would otherwise decompose the stored lentil sprouts.
Things You'll Need
1. Rinse the lentil sprouts and remove any that might be rotting. Shake off the excess water
2. Place the lentil sprouts on a layer of paper towels and allow them to dry out
3. Seal the sprouts in a produce bag or plastic container and store it in the fridge
4. To extend the shelf life of the stored lentil sprouts, rinse them with cold water daily, and dry them before putting them back in the fridge.
2. Storing Sprouting Lentils in the Freezer
To store sprouting lentils for more prolonged periods up to 3 months, you will require constant low temperatures. Steaming the lentil sprouts before freezing them will help in preserving the flavors.
Things You'll Need
Kitchen steaming set
1. Steam the freshly rinsed lentil sprouts in a steaming set or a steamer basket set over boiling water in a pot - the sprouts should be steamed for a maximum of 3 minutes
2. Wrap the steamed lentil sprouts in paper towels to dry them out
3. Place the lentil sprouts on a baking sheet and freeze for 1 hour
4. Add the frozen sprouts into a freezer bag and seal it airtight before storing in the freezer for up to 3 months
Lentils Vs. Sprouted Lentils
Lentil seeds are often sold in their dry form and can be used in various recipes as legumes. Sprouted lentils, on the other hand, are mostly homegrown due to their short shelf life unless kept under constant frozen storage.
Are There Different Health Benefits?
The significant difference between dried lentils and sprouted ones is the amount of nutrients: the sprouting process lids to increased nutrients in the young shoots.
Which is Healthier?
Lentil sprouts are much healthier compared to dried lentils due to the increased nutrition count.
Cooking Lentil Sprouts
After harvesting your lentil sprouts, you can either cook them or store them for future use. In most recipes, the sprouts are added as a vegetable or used in salads.
Do you Have to Cook Them?
While raw lentil sprouts are edible, they may be contaminated with harmful bacteria and fungi cultures, which can result in food poisoning. This can be avoided by cooking raw sprouts.
Which is the Healthiest Method of Cooking or Eating Lentil Sprouts?
Sprouted lentils have an earthy flavor that matches perfectly with spicy dishes. The sprouts are also much easy to cook, making the spiced sprout lentils soup the healthiest way to eat them.
Sprout Lentils Recipes
1. Vegan Sprouted Lentils Stew
Recipe Inspired By A Couple Who Cooks
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 yellow onion
2 ribs celery
10 oz sprouted green lentils
2 diced tomatoes
4 cups vegetable stock
Sea salt and ground pepper to taste
½ teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1. In a large pot, add olive oil, onions, carrot, and celery. Allow them to sauté while occasionally stirring until they are soft
2. Stir in the garlic and sauté until fragrant and add the cumin, and coriander
3. Stir in the lentil sprouts and simmer over low heat for 5 minutes, season with salt and pepper
4. Serve in shallow bowls with your favorite crusty bread
2. Spicy Sprouted Lentils
Recipe inspired by giverecipe.com.
1 cup green sprouted lentils
3 cups of water
¼ cup cooked corn
3 tablespoons freshly pressed lemon juice
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Salt and chili powder to taste
¼ cup finely chopped thyme
1. Mix the cooked corn and lentil sprouts in a bowl and set aside
2. In another bowl, whisk the lemon juice, salt, cumin, chili, thyme, and olive oil
3. Pour the whisked ingredients over the corn and lentil sprouts and toss
4. Serve as a salad or use it in soups or sandwiches
3. Creamy Sprout Lentils Soup
Recipe inspired by ItalyMagazine.
2 ½ cups lentil sprouts
6 cups of boiling water
Salt and pepper to taste
1 stalk of celery- finely diced
1 carrot- finely diced
1 shallot- finely diced
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1. In a large pot heat the extra virgin oil over medium heat
2. Add the diced shallot, celery, and carrot. Sauté for 10 minutes and add the lentil sprouts.
3. Add the boiling water and cook for up to 5 minutes
4. Season with pepper and salt to taste
5. Serve with a swirl of virgin olive oil, toasted bread, fresh herbs, and cracked black pepper
4. Asian Lentil Sprouts Salad with Peanut dressing
Recipe inspired by CookedLiveLove.com
2 cups green lentil sprouts
2 cups quinoa- cooked
½ red, orange or yellow bell pepper- thinly sliced
½ cup green onion- thinly sliced
1 carrot- shredded
2 cups kale or spinach
2 cups purple cabbage
½ cucumber sliced and quartered
4 teaspoons black sesame seeds
½ cup peanut butter- unsweetened
½ cup of water
1 tablespoon honey
2 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon unseasoned rice vinegar
½ lime- juiced
1-inch fresh ginger- minced
2 garlic cloves- chopped
½ teaspoon sesame oil
2 drops sriracha sauce
1. Mx the quinoa, cabbage, carrots, and spinach and split it up into four bowls. Add lentil sprouts on top followed by pepper strips, cucumber, and green onions
2. Combine the peanut butter and sesame oil in a blender until smooth, add honey, soy sauce, rice vinegar, lime juice, fresh ginger, garlic, and sriracha sauce and blend until the dressing achieves a smooth consistency
3. Drizzle each salad with 2 oz dressing
Lentil Sprouts, Birds: Parrots & Chickens
Can Parrots Eat Lentil Sprouts?
Yes, lentil sprouts are a valuable source of much-required nutrients for your parrots. The sprouts are easy to grow at home and can be supplemented with other seed sprouts such as oats, peas, and beans.
How to Feed Lentil Sprouts To Your Parrot
Offer your parrot a handful of lentil sprouts but ensure that you keep the daily intake to below a ½ cup for a large bird and a ¼ for smaller ones.
Lentil Sprouts and Chicken
Can Chicken Eat Lentil Sprouts?
Yes, chicken can eat lentil sprouts, which is an excellent source of protein for them. On average, a fully grown chicken can consume a cup of lentil sprouts.
Is it Ok To Eat Sprouted Lentils?
Yes, it's perfectly healthy to eat sprouted lentils as they are not only nutritious but also offer a great taste.
How Long Does It Take for Lentils To Sprout?
Dry lentil seeds usually take 3 to 5 days to sprout when exposed to germination requirements such as moisture and temperature ranging between 68- and 86-degrees Fahrenheit.
How Do You Dry Sprouted Lentils?
The best way to dry lentil sprouts is by using paper towels to absorb the moisture. Alternately you can use a salad spinner to drain out the excess moisture quickly.
How Do You Make Sprouted Legumes?
Legumes can be sprouted by first activating them followed by daily rinsing which keeps them moist as the germination process starts.
Why Are Sprouts Dangerous?
Sprouts can be contaminated with harmful bacteria culture during the fermentation process, if consumed raw, the bacteria can infect the digestive system leading to food poisoning.
Are Sprouted Lentils A Complete Protein?
No, plant-based protein sources such as lentil sprouts are considered incomplete protein sources as they lack certain amino acids.
Can You Get Sick From Eating Undercooked Lentils?
If the raw lentil sprouts are contaminated with harmful cultures, then there's a likelihood that you will get sick from consuming them.
How do You Eat Sprouts Safely?
The safest way to eat sprouts is by first cooking or steaming them.
Are Sprouted Legumes Healthy?
Yes, sprouted legumes are a great source of plant-based proteins and other necessary nutrients such as minerals.
How Much Protein is in Lentil Sprouts?
A single cup of lentil sprouts contains 7 grams of proteins.
Do Lentils Cause Wind?
Lentils are also legumes; these contain certain molecules which when digested can cause gas production and even bloating when consumed in excessive amounts.