Safe Sprouts

Nuts, grains and legumes help form the basis of a balanced diet but they also contain substances (Oxalates, Phytates and Saponins) that interfere with the body’s ability to absorb nutrients. Soaking and/or sprouting reduces the levels of enzyme inhibitors.

Like any fresh produce that is consumed raw or lightly cooked, sprouts carry a risk of food borne illness. Unlike other fresh produce, seeds and beans need warm and humid conditions to sprout and grow. These conditions are also ideal for the growth of bacteria, including Salmonella, Listeria, and E. coli. Alfalfa and clover sprouts have been involved most often, all sprouts pose some risk. It is essential for control of toxigenic moulds and bacteria that foreign matter and damaged seed be removed and clean, dry, adequately cooled and ventilated storage is provided. Good sanitation and hygiene is essential to minimise mold/bacterial contamination during storage and processing.

Only buy human grade grains/nuts and ensue proper handling and storage as they are susceptible to Salmonella and Aflatoxins. Aflatoxin are a carcinogenic mycotoxins in food which is produced by the Aspergillus flavus fungus. This fungus can contaminate foods such as grain, nuts and legumes such as peanuts. Salmonella in a gram negative bacteria.

Aflatoxin-producing members of Aspergillus are common and widespread in nature. They can contaminate grain/nuts before harvest or during storage. Aspergillus lives in soil, decaying vegetation, hay, and rancid grains and nuts. Crops which are frequently infected include:
  • Grains such as corn, sorghum, pearl millet, rice, and wheat
  • Oilseeds such as peanuts, soybeans, sunflower seeds, and cottonseeds
  • Spices such as chilli peppers, black pepper, coriander, turmeric, ginger
  • Tree nuts including almonds, pistachios, walnuts, coconuts, and brazil nuts.
references: Control and removal of aflatoxin - Food Safety Watch - Anti-nutritional factors - Prevalence of Salmonella in Cashews, Hazelnuts, Macadamia Nuts, Pecans, Pine Nuts, and Walnuts in the United States - What is Salmonella

Human Grade

Almond (un pasturised) Soak 10-14 hours, sprout 1.0 day.
Palm nut

Amaranth: Soak 2-4 hours, sprout 1-1.5 days.
Barley: Soak 8-14 hours, sprout 1.25-1.5 days. (hulled/perled wont sprout)
Buckwheat: Soak 15-20 minutes only; sprout 1-1.5 days.
Field corn: Soak 8-14 hours, sprout 2.0 + days.
Fonio: Soak 2 hrs, sprout 1 day.
Popcorn: Soak 8-14 hours, sprout 1.5+ days.
Millet: Soak 8-14 hours, sprout 1-1.5 days.
Oats: Soak 8-14 hours, sprout 1.25-1.5 days.
Teff: Soak 2 hrs, sprout 1 day.
Quinoa: soak 2 hrs - rinse thoroughly to remove saponin.
Rice: Soak 12-18 hours, sprout 1.0+ days. (Only brown, unprocessed rice will sprout)
Rye: Soak 8-14 hours, sprout 1-1.5 days. (warning watch for ergot mold)
Wheat, including Kamut and Spelt: Soak 8-14 hours, sprout 1-1.5 days.

Alfalfa, Clover: soak 4-14 hours, sprout 1-1.5 days
Chick Pea: Soak 8-14 hours, sprout 1.0 day spoil easily
Garbanzos, standard: Soak 12-18 hours, sprout 1.5+ days
Kala channa: Soak 8-14 hours, sprout 1.5 days
Lentils, brown/green and red. Soak 8-14 hours, sprout 1.0 day
Mung beans, Urid/urad, Adzuki, Moth: Soak 8-14 hours, sprout 18 hrs - 1 day.
Peanuts: Soak 12-14 hours, sprout 1.5 days. Must use unblanched peanut aflatoxin warning See note *1
Peas, Blackeye: Soak 12-14 hours, sprout 1 day
Peas, (Field): Soak 12-14 hours, sprout 1.5 days

Cabbage, Kale: Soak 6-14 hours, sprout 1+ days
Fenugreek: Soak 8-14 hours, sprout 2 days
Flax, Psyllium, Chia. Require clay saucer method
Mustard: Soak 6-14 hours, sprout 1.0+ days
Pumpkin: Soak 8-14 hours; (to problematic to sprout)
Radish: Soak 8-14 hours, sprout 1.0+ days
Sesame: Soak 8-14 hours, sprout 1-1.5 days (do not store consume straight away)
Sunflower: Soak 8-14 hours, sprout 18 hours (Hulled only) skim off seed skins at end of soak period, when rinsing to prevent spoiling
*1 Recommend removing skins to improve digestibility. Spanish variety peanuts have loose skin, can remove most before soaking. Other peanuts - soak 1-2 hours then peel off skins, return to soaking in new, clean water. With peanut peeled you will probably observe high incidence of (bright) yellow mold - possible aflatoxin
Never Sprout
Sorghum, Milo, super Millet, Mega Millet
Anasazi, Black, Fava, Kidney, Lima, Navy, Pinto,
pecans, walnuts, pine nuts, Brazil nuts, macadamias and pasteurized almonds

Why soak nuts and seeds?

Raw nuts, and even more so raw seeds, have high levels of Oxalates and Phytates, that when eaten contribute to potential nutrient deficiencies and low mineral absorbtion. The phytates and enzyme inhibitors can be neutralized by soaking and low temperature dehydrating or sprouting. Soaking increases the bioavailability of important nutrients (notably the treasured B vitamins) and activates helpful enzymes that increase nutrient absorption.

Sprouting takes this process a step further. Note that pecans, walnuts, pine nuts, Brazil nuts, macadamias and pasteurised almonds will NOT sprout, but they still contain phytates and enzyme inhibitors that should be removed by soaking. Only make as many fresh, raw sprouted nuts or seeds as can be consumed in 2-3 days. Store them in a covered stainless sleet bowl or jar in the refrigerator.

How to Sprout

The how depends upon what it is your sprouting. Whether its a grain an nut or a legume the process starts with soaking. Soaking involves the complete submergence of grains in water for certain amount of time period which results in the activation of endogenous phytases. Soaking should be at temperature between 45 and 65 °C and pH value between 5 and 6 for nuts. I use tepid water for grains.
  1. Place raw, unsalted, organic nuts/seeds/legumes into a medium sized bowl
  2. Cover with filtered water so that contents are submerged (add vinegar to lower the ph if necessary)
  3. Allow to soak for the recommended time depending upon the grain/nut/legume. (No more than 20 min for buckwheat, 2 hrs for quinoa & teff, 4-6 hours for cashews, walnuts, peanuts, pistachios) overnight for lentils.
  4. Optional If just soaking you can rinse spread out in single layer on a rack to dehydrate. Dry at a low temperature no higher than 150°F, in dehydrator or oven slightly crispy.
  5. Some grains will be sprouted ready to eat after the soak. Rinse serve or store.
  6. Other grains/legumes will require regular rinsing every 2 to 4 hrs for up to two days before sprouting, you can add apple cider vinegar to the rinse water
  7. Let dry and store. After sprouting commences - keep refrigerated. If properly attended to, the sprouted seeds will last for up to 5 days. Discard if a foul smell can be detected