Frugal and Easy Sprouting Method: The Colander Method

ng_colanderblackFirst, I have been enjoying reading through every one’s response to the panel on nourishing food. Thank you for sharing your personal stories. If you haven’t checked out the panel on nourishing food yet, check it out! Four ladies have graciously agreed to share their stories with us over five weeks. And I would love to hear your story as well.

But now to the point of this post. I have been talking about sprouts lately. The benefits,  some of the directions for specific sprouts and recipes (though admittedly I am a little sidetracked from our Nourishing Chocolate Recipe Carnival coming up next week!).

So far I have shared how to sprout in a mason jar with a screen insert. This is a very easy and frugal method, which works for a wide variety of sprouts.

But there is actually another frugal and easy method for sprouting larger sprouts, such as grains and legumes.

In fact, you probably already have the “equipment” for it in your kitchen. You will need a bowl, a colander, a small kitchen towel, and a plate, and that’s it! You are ready to sprout. This is how it’s done.

Basic Directions for Sprouting Using a Colander

Place the legume or grain you wish to sprout in a large bowl and cover with water. Leave to soak 8-12 hours (overnight works well). Then drain in your colander, and rinse very well (the water should run clear). Drain, and then place on your plate-to catch any drips-and cover with a kitchen towel. Now all you have to do is rinse and drain every 8-12 hours (think morning and evening). When I rinse, I gently shake the colander a bit to make sure that all of the beans are getting wet.

And then it’s just a matter of waiting until you see little sprouts. For both legumes and grains, you generally aren’t wanting the sprouts to get really big, as they taste better when the sprouts are small. So when you see the sprouts starting to shoot out, rinse one more time, and leave for another 8-12 hours to drain thoroughly (they should be dry to the touch). Then place in a mason jar or other container to keep in the fridge. And you are done!


Comparing the Mason Jar with Insert Method with the Colander Method

The mason jar with insert method allows you to sprout even small seeds (my next sprouting post will be about sprouting clover seeds using this method). A colander will only hold large seeds to sprout, such as legumes and grains.  It’s also very easy to store, as it’s already in a mason jar. You just need to change the lid and pop it in the refrigerator.

However, the colander method will allow you to sprout large quantities very easily (helpful for larger families), and it is very easy to rinse as well.  If you don’t want to have your colander in use for several days in a row, you could even invest in a colander specifically for sprouting.

I will be using both of these methods as I continue my sprouting journey!

How about you? Any of you used either of these methods, and with what sucesss?

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I love beautiful and simple food that is nourishing to the body and the soul. I wrote Fresh: Nourishing Salads for All Seasons and Ladled: Nourishing Soups for All Seasons as another outlet of sharing this love of mine. I also love sharing practical tips on how to make a real food diet work on a real life budget. Find me online elsewhere by clicking on the icons below!

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  1. Heather says

    Kimi, thank you so much for bringing this to my attention! I make large quantities of beans but have never sprouted them because of the sheer quantity being a hassle. I never even thought of my colander! I was even scoping out yards of organic hemp to make my own sprout bags. This is the needed (free to me) alternative. Thank you again.

  2. carole says

    Hi, I hope I’m not reposting this question I think I lost it somewhere the first time……
    Has anyone used the sprouting bags?? I’m wondering how they work out. They sound easy. I guess you can just dip it and hang it. So there isn’t the rinsing 2-3 times a day.
    Has anyone tried them?

  3. KimiHarris says

    Hi Carole,

    I haven’t tried that method yet, but it’s sounds interesting! I will probably try it sometime, but I love the methods I’ve already tried. 🙂


    No, it’s stays in the colander. You place the colander on the plate. 🙂

  4. Suzy says

    Thanks for your lovely posts! I am now an avid reader of your blog and enjoy the great information and recipes you provide to us. I really appreciate the hard work you put into this blog.

    I also have a question about sprouting grains. I sometimes have oatmeal for breakfast in the morning but usually resort to quick-cooking oats as I don’t have time to wait for the regular (steel-cut) oats to cook. So now I’m wondering– is it possible to soak the steel-cut oats overnight and then cook it in the morning as usual? I’m assuming that this would neutralize some of the phytic acid and shorten the cooking time. And is it possible to sprout steel-cut oats? Or do I need special sprouting oats? Thanks!


    • S says

      You can definitely soak steel cut oats overnight. I usually toast them in a pyrex baking pan at 350 for 20-30 minutes, toasting and checking every 10 minutes to make sure they don’t over brown. This step isn’t necessary, just helps boast the flavor as well as contributing to a decreased cooking time. Let the oats cool, then put in a soaking bowl in the fridge with whatever amount of water you would use to cook. Leaving the oats (covered) in a bowl on the counter overnight will give more of an intense flavor especially if you put a few tablespoons of real yogurt in with the water.

      Next morning cook the oatmeal, if there is extra it should keep well for atleast 3-4 days, making breakfast the rest of the week that much quicker and tastier.

      • S says

        Opps, forgot, about half way thru toasting (if you go that route) can add a handful of nuts, pinch of salt, agave or whatever. I usually don’t add raisins or diced apple until after the oatmeal is cooked and is steeping, covered, on the stove.

  5. Virginia says

    I am new to sprouting….so here is a basic question. When you sprout the beans or lentils do you just use them in your recipe as you would have unsprouted?


  6. Kimberly says

    I have loved reading your recipes. I am trying to find a good – doable- recipe for sprouted Ezekiel Bread. I love the Food For Life brand – but it is pricey and I want to make it myself. Any ideas on this? Have you made it? I will definitely follow the colander method for my sprouting- how easy for large batches.

  7. Kathy says

    Hi– and thank you for these posts! I’ve enjoyed your blog for a while, and this looks like a great new idea to try.

    One question: can I use sprouted legumes in recipes I already have? How does sprouting change the way beans and lentils cook up? Thanks for your help!

  8. Heidi M. says


    I’m really enjoying the information you give in your blog, and I was wondering if you would mind sharing your thoughs on a certain subject. There’s a traditional food preparation method that I can’t seem to find much information on as far as practical application and tangible benefits goes called nixtamalization, the process of soaking corn in lye (traditionally ashes added to the water) until the hull loosens, and it is then drained, rinsed, and either used immediately or dried for later use. Apparently it makes the nutrition easier to absorb, adds lots of calcium, and improves something with the essential amino acids.

    How you heard of this process, do you use it, and do you know of any deeper information on the health benefits of it?

  9. says

    Hey Kimi! There is a place called TasteBook, you can upload your recipes there and actually put together a cookbook with about 100 recipes. Then someone like me could come along and buy it. Anyway…just wondering if you have ever thought of putting together a cookbook of all your yummy recipes. I know I’d buy one!

  10. Jen says

    This seems like a silly question, and the answer is probably “no,” but can you sprout split legumes? We use a lot of chana dal, which are split black grams. I know I can soak them, too, but I would love to start sprouting if I can.

  11. says

    For everyone who asked questions about sprouts, I just answered some of them in a new post, so check it out! 🙂 Let me know if I missed something.

    Heidi M,

    That’s a great question. I will address that question in a Q & A post as it will be a bit of a longer answer then would work well here. 🙂

    Thanks everyone!

  12. Luci says

    Suzy 02.07.09 at 2:34 pm

    I eat steel-cut oats, also. They are absolutely the best. What I’ve done to shorten the time is to cook my week’s worth of oats at one time. Then I store them in my pyrex bowl with a let. I’ve noticed no change to taste or texture.

    ~~ Luci

  13. JODELL OCHS says

    I need additional information on using spouted grains . I want to make bread but I can’t figure out how you would grind wet sprouts . do you dehydrate them and then grind , do you use this cup for cup of regulare flour ? Does this work with quick breads , the last one I tried was terrible with non sprouted home ground whole wheat .Any ideas for how to use sprouted mung beans or other beans and grains ..

  14. Kathy says

    On sprouting, I have been saving different sizes of the mesh bags that some of my produce comes in(garlic, shallots etc) and I can slip a bowl in them or just cover the bowl and use the mesh as the screen to drain beans when I sprout them. I am always excited when I find a particularly small mesh.

  15. Jaccy says

    Hi Kimi
    I’m in the middle of sprouting my first batch of lentils thanks to your website! Do you know how long they will keep in the fridge once sprouted?

  16. Heather says

    For a mesh bag–use a knee-high nylon stocking. Clean, about as “natural” as any mesh produce bag, and fine enough for the smallest seeds.

  17. Oriel Wiggins says

    Love your blog, am rarely able to browse, but got on and saw the sprouting questions. One in particular–Suzy from Feb asked about oatmeal. I don’t know if you answered it elsewhere–I couldn’t find it anywhere. Oatmeal isn’t able to be sprouted unless you buy special stuff that’s not been goofed with enough to remove some key outside part essential to it’s viability. So, if you want to still have your steel cut oats which are great, do soak them. We do the 24 hours in whey, lemon juice, vinegar water, whatever. And then rinse in the morning just before adding whatever cooking liquid you like. Then after that first bowl of yummy oatmeal which cooks in 5-10 min, I make a very thick custard, complete with lots of dried fruit and spices, chill, cut, fry in coconut oil and voila–a delicious crispy treat for quick complete breakfast.

  18. says

    Hi Kim,
    I’ve never tried to sprout my beans before – usually just soak them 12-24 hours. However, last night before bed, I put my beans in to soak. Tonight, when I took them out of the bowl, they were already sprouting!
    Do they usually do this so fast? I guess I should be happy I don’t have to use the colander this time!


  19. Sarah says

    This worked GREAT with several cups of wheat berries! I am so excited how easy it is to sprout grains, and now that I have a dehydrator and mill I am going to make my own sprouted grain flour regularly.

  20. Annie says

    Hi, I’m completely new to sprouting and I want to grow some good sprouts to surprise my mother. The purple looking ones in the photo look really good. Did they grow from the yellow seeds you have in the second photo? If so, what is the name yellow seeds? Thanks, it would be ideal to start soaking them tonight!

  21. Joyce says

    Can you sprout sunflower seeds this way? If you can; do you use the store bought for eating or the ones you plant? Thank you


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