Most of us are familiar with broccoli, but perhaps not with how to grow broccoli sprouts. And if you think broccoli is a great veg, you'll be delighted to learn that broccoli sprouts are super quick to grow and need less space. And also, if eaten raw, they contain around 10 times the nutrients compared to cooked broccoli.
Broccoli sprouts are essentially three-to-four-day-old broccoli plants, jam-packed with multivitamins and micronutrients. Most important of all, they contain the magic anti-oxidant ingredient sulforaphane, making these tiny leaves one of the healthiest foods you can eat.
The super-nutritious broccoli seedlings can be added to salads, sandwiches, soups, and smoothies. They're similar to alfalfa sprouts but with a stronger, sharper flavor. They help support our energy levels, immune systems, and are even thought to contain anti-aging properties. Not to mention, they're simple to grow and tasty too.
Perhaps best of all, and unlike with broccoli, you don't even need a garden to grow broccoli sprouts. A cupboard, a windowsill, and some basic kitchen equipment are all that's required. What's more, home-grown works out much cheaper than store-bought sprouts, so it's well worth learning how to grow broccoli sprouts as an indoor kitchen garden idea, to have a continuous supply on hand.
5 easy steps for how to grow broccoli sprouts
Give your meals a boost by learning how to grow broccoli sprouts – it couldn't be simpler.
You will need:
- Packs of organic broccoli seeds for sprouting – available from Amazon – or seed mixes (with radish, alfalfa, etc)
- A 1-liter jar or tub with mesh sprouting lid (or a sprouting kit)
- 1 tablespoon
- 1 bowl
- 1 sieve
Once you've gathered your equipment, it's time to start growing. All it takes is a few quick and easy steps:
1. Soak your seeds
Put 3 tablespoons of organic broccoli seeds in a bowl, cover them with tepid water, and stir. Leave in the dark for at least 12 hours or overnight.
Then, drain all the water out through the sieve and rinse the seeds well with cold water. Leave them until you're sure they're dry.
2. Pop your seeds in a jam jar
Transfer the seeds into a sterile Mason jar or jam jar and top with the sprouting lid. Put the jar in a dark cupboard or pantry, away from direct sunlight or heat.
3. Rinse the seeds twice a day
For the next four days, rinse the seeds twice a day, adding water to the jar and swishing it around.
Let the jar drain upside-down in a bowl at an angle, and replace it in the dark each time. This step is easy if you use a broccoli sprouts growing kit from Amazon.
You can set alarms on your cell phone to remind you to do this.
4. Move your sprouts to a windowsill
When the sprouts are ½in (1.2cm) to 1in (2.5cm) long and have yellow leaves, bring them out of the dark and put them on a windowsill, ideally in indirect light.
They'll then develop chlorophyll, which colors them green, in around 12 hours or so. They're almost ready!
5. Harvest your broccoli sprouts
To harvest the sprouts, give them a final thorough rinse and drain.
Air-dry the sprouts thoroughly, then pop them into an airtight container in the fridge. They'll keep for 4–6 days, but it's best to use them fresh. You can also freeze them – pack them into an airtight bag or container and use them directly from frozen in smoothies for an extra nutrient boost.
You may notice a white fuzz developing on the sprouts – but don't worry. This is not mold but micro-hairs, which are normal. Sprouts rarely get moldy – this only happens when they become waterlogged. You'll normally know this as they'll give off an unpleasant, sour smell. If this happens, throw them away and start a fresh batch.
How long does it take broccoli sprouts to grow?
From seed to sprout, growing broccoli sprouts only takes around four to five days – they really are a super-speedy superfood.
As they're grown indoors, you don't have to keep strictly to a vegetable planting calendar. Instead, keep starting new batches so you have a continuous supply. Because they're so quick to grow, you can have fresh sprouts every week all year round.
What can you use broccoli sprouts for?
Broccoli sprouts can be used in lots of ways. They can be steamed, but are best eaten raw. Add them to a sandwich, as for alfalfa. Toss them into a salad if you're growing lettuce in winter, or sprinkle a handful on top of soups as a garnish. Or, you could try mixing the sprouts with smashed avocado on toast for a really nutritious (and delicious) snack.
Some people find the flavor a little strong at first – if this is you, use small quantities to begin with, mixing a couple of teaspoons with alfalfa sprouts. Use extra garlic and mustard in salad dressings while you're getting used to the new taste. Alternatively, you can still get the health benefits without the flavor by blending the sprouts into a delicious, rich fruit smoothie.
Are broccoli sprouts hard to grow?
Broccoli sprouts are really easy and fun to grow. You don't need a garden, sophisticated equipment, or even any compost. All you need to start is a glass Mason jar or a jam jar with a mesh lid, and a dark cupboard. The advantage of a jar is that you can actually see the sprouts growing through the sides.
Once you get used to how to grow broccoli sprouts and have made them part of your indoor garden ideas, you can invest in more specialist equipment. There are smart-looking stainless steel sprouting kits available online with mesh bottoms that stack on top of one other, so you can grow larger quantities at one time. And with these, you don't even need to rinse them, making them even simpler to grow.
Geraldine is a gardener and garden writer, who has worked for over 12 years in historic public gardens and private gardens around London. She has written articles for Easy Gardens, Which? Gardening and Women’s Weekly Gardening Special magazines and for gardeningetc.com. She also edited the book ‘Britain’s Favourite Plants’ for the RHS.
She has a north-facing London garden with cottage-style planting, where she aims to keep the colour display going as long as possible, watched by two resident cats, visiting squirrels and foxes. She is planning to create more wildlife-friendly features in the garden. She loves working with plants, discovering new ones and writing about them.
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