Lentils are a really great place to start if you’ve never sprouted before because they germinate quickly and show a good visible sprout. Sprouting it aids in digestibility and bioavailablity, and makes them super quick cooking. It is often recommended that lentils be soaked to aid in digestion and cook time, but sprouting takes it an extra step further.
Lentils are very high in protein, fibre, iron, magnesium and zinc. They’re an excellent, nutritious choice if you’re planning to introduce more plant-based protein into your diet. Plus, they are extremely versatile, adding heartiness to any salad, soup, curry etc.
You can find lentils in many different colours and varieties at your local bulk, health food, or grocery store, or you can find them online. Choosing organic is usually best because then you can be certain that it hasn’t been treated with any chemicals that could interfere with germination.
The lentil also needs to be whole in order to sprout, so any sort of split lentil will not work. This tutorial was made with green lentils, you can substitute another variety but the soaking and sprouting time may vary slightly.
You don’t need any fancy equipment to sprout lentils, but there are a few things to note:
Sprouting in a Bowl
You will need a large bowl, a clean dish towel and a strainer.
Sprouting in a Jar
A jar with a sprouting lid makes it simpler to drain and rinse, but it means you need to go out and buy one (they are inexpensive and you can find metal or plastic ones at most health food stores or online). If you don’t have a sprouting lid, you can also use a mason jar lid with the metal center replaced by mesh or cheesecloth.
We found each method worked equally well and the lentils sprouted at the same rate. Sprouting in a jar was slightly more convenient, but it’s really down to your personal preference.
If you’re not consuming the sprouted lentils right away, you will need a food dehydrator or sheet pan to dry at a low temperature in the oven.
Sprouting occurs in a wet, warm environment, which are also the optimal conditions for bacteria to grow. To minimize this risk, you’ll need to make sure your lentils are from a reputable source, stored properly, and all of your equipment and your hands are completely clean before sprouting.
We do not recommend eating sprouted lentils raw. Cooking will ensure that any potentially harmful bacteria is eliminated.
Measure desired amount of lentils, making sure your bowl or jar is less than a third full (it will expand). Using a strainer or jar with mesh lid, rinse the lentils well.
Fill with lukewarm water in a 3 part water to 1 part lentils ratio. Allow it to soak for 4-6 hours at room temperature.
The lentils will double in size. Don’t worry about slightly over or under soaking, they will still sprout. If you would like to check that they are fully soaked, you can break one open to see if it is hydrated all the way through.
We started with 1 1/2 cups of lentils and 4 1/2 cups of water for both the jar and bowl method.
Drain and rinse well with lukewarm water.
If you’re using a bowl: make sure the water has fully drained before returning the lentils to the bowl, you want them moist but not sitting in water while sprouting. Cover the bowl with a clean tea towel and allow it to sit at room temperature.
If you’re using a sprouting jar: after rinsing, drain well and invert the jar into a large bowl or other object that allows it to sit at an angle. This lets water drain constantly. Allow the jar to sit at room temperature.
Leave the bowl covered or the jar at an angle while sprouting. After a few hours, you should start to see sprouts emerge. At about the halfway mark (12-15 hours), rinse the lentils again in lukewarm water, drain and return to sprouting. Check periodically and rinse a second time if they start to look dry or feel cool to the touch. You can also lightly stir or roll the jar if you need to redistribute the moisture.
The 25-30 hour sprouting time is a guideline, yours may sprout slower or faster depending on the germination rate of your raw lentils, the temperature of your house etc. You’ll want to stop sprouting when the sprout is approximately the same length as the lentil. The germination rate will vary between individual lentils, so look for an average and don’t worry if a few seem too long or too short.
Once it is sprouted to your liking, give it a final rinse.
Sprouted Buckwheat dried in the oven:
If you want to use sprouted lentils right away, simply boil in water for about 5 minutes, or until they are your desired consistency.
You can keep sprouted lentils in the fridge for a few days, but they will continue to sprout a little bit. You can also put them in an airtight container in the freezer, which will halt sprouting entirely. After freezing the sprout may develop a yellow-brown colour, this is normal. Thaw before cooking.
If you would like to make your lentils shelf stable, you have to dry/dehydrate it. For safety reasons, we do not recommend this if you are away from home or asleep, so time your sprouting accordingly.
In an oven
Spread the lentils in a single layer on a baking tray or trays. Dry at 170° for 4 hours. Note that this method may give it a lightly toasted taste and texture.
In a dehydrator (preferred)
Spread the lentils in a single layer. Depending on your machine, you may need a mat or parchment paper to keep the lentils from falling through. Dehydrate at 105° for 10-12 hours. This is not considered a bacteria killing step and they should still be cooked.
Store sprouted dried lentils in an airtight container at room temperature for 1-2 years.
Sprouted lentils are an excellent addition to salads, soups, stews, curry, sauces, casseroles and more! They have a very neutral taste and are excellent at absorbing other flavours, so pair with lots of aromatics and spices.
Check out our sprouted lentil recipes for inspiration!
We’re here to help with any questions or troubleshooting, leave us a comment and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can. Have tips and tricks to share? We would love to hear those too!