How to Sprout Lentils
Sprouting Lentils is Easy
Types of Lentils to Sprout
There are several different types of lentil; some common ones are: brown, green, puy (also known as French), yellow and red. Most are suitable for sprouting but the exception is red lentils. These are not whole lentils but hulled yellow lentils and because of this they don't sprout well.
Before I began writing this article I would have said red lentils didn't sprout at all, but I decided to test that out. I was surprised to discover that some shoots did appear. However, if you take a look at the photo of red lentils lower down this article I think you will agree that my attempt at sprouting them does not count as successful! I definitely do not recommend it.
Green and brown lentils are most commonly used for sprouting. The photo opposite shows green lentils before and after sprouting.
Equipment for Sprouting Lentils
You don't need any special equipment for sprouting lentils, but it is slightly less work to use a specially designed jar or tray sprouter. The table below gives more details of the pros and cons of each type of equipment, so read that to see which would suit you best.
My preferred option is the jar with the mesh top, and I've had mine for years. My jar is by Biosnacky, and I definitely recommend it. These jars are easily available in the UK, but they are currently unavailable on Amazon.com. However, you can buy strainer lids that fit onto your own quart sized jars, which are a great idea and can be used in the same way as my jar.
If you plan to sprout large quantities of lentils or other pulses, then a tiered tray sprouter is probably the best idea. These are easily available, and I have included a link to a 5 star one on Amazon.
You can make your own sprouter with a wide necked jar, kitchen paper or a muslin cloth and a rubber band. If you use kitchen paper you will need to remove this for rinsing and it's best to do so even if you use a muslin cloth.
Pros and cons of sprouting methods
Possible to sprout several batches of lentils at once. Easy to rinse sprouts.
Top layer is prone to drying out
Sprouting jar with mesh top
Easy to rinse sprouts. Usually grow well.
Wide jam jar, kitchen paper and rubber band
Cheap! Sprouts usually grow well.
You need to tip the sprouts into a sieve to rinse
Soak lentils in water
How to Sprout Lentils
1) First soak your chosen lentils for several hours or preferably overnight.
If you use the stacking trays, their instructions may say there is no need to soak the lentils first. (My tray sprouter’s instructions did advise this, but I think the lentils - or any other pulse - sprout better if they have been soaked first.)
2) After soaking the lentils for 8 - 12 hours, drain them and rinse.
If you have a jar with a mesh lid, all you need to do is drain the lentils through this, add more cold water and drain again. Make sure there isn't a puddle of water remaining at the bottom.
When your lentils begin to sprout drainage becomes slightly more difficult and it is a good idea to tip the jar upside-down and leave it that way for a few minutes to ensure it has drained. Some types of jar have a lid that enables you to tip the jar at an angle to enable easy draining. (Mine does.) But if yours doesn't have this, don't worry, your lentils will sprout fine anyway.
If you have an ordinary jam jar you will need to transfer the lentils to a sieve for rinsing. Once you have done that, return them to the jar.
If you are using a tiered sprouter, it is best to follow the manufacturers instructions, but generally all you need to do is spray the lentils lightly with water a few times a day.
3) Repeat rinsing twice a day until the sprouts are ready. They will begin to develop shoots after a day or so, and will be ready within about 3 days. How fast they develop will depend on how warm they are - the warmer it is, the faster they will develop. For this reason, it's best to keep them somewhere warm.
When sprouting lentils, you don't need to place them in the dark, but do keep them out of the sun. The lentils need to be moist but not waterlogged.
Red lentils do not sprout well.
Sprouting Lentils: the main points
- Use green, brown, puy or French lentils, but NOT red.
- Soak overnight.
- Rinse twice a day.
- Keep in a warm place.
- Eat raw or cooked.
The picture opposite shows red lentils after 3 days. They have only tiny shoots on a few of the lentils.
How to Prepare Sprouted Lentils
All you need to do before eating sprouted lentils is to give them a final rinse. They are delicious raw in salads or lightly fried in a stir-fry.
Sprouting Lentils: Trouble shooting
It is very easy to grow lentil sprouts, but if anything does go wrong, it is likely to be one of the following:
The lentils have gone moldy.
- This is because they are too wet and/or have been left too long. Once lentils are fully sprouted, transfer them to the fridge where they will keep for several days.
The lentils haven't sprouted.
- If you have followed the instructions and used only suitable types of lentil, then most likely your lentils are too old to sprout. Don't worry, you can still use them in normal cooking instead.
- Always buy lentils (or other pulses) for sprouting from a store that sells them often enough to have a good turnover, and don't use lentils you've had at the back of a cupboard for years!
- The other reason your lentils might not sprout is if they are too cold. In winter make sure you keep them in a warm place.