Let’s talk about homemade sprouted lentils. For readers with kids, this is a fun food experiment to do with them (or even put them in charge of), particularly for the elementary crowd where such transformations are still quite fascinating. I can’t promise that participating will make your child actually want to eat the sprouts (mine won’t, womp womp) but it will get them into the kitchen, engaged in the cooking process, and that’s always a win for me.
Let’s get this out of the way first – making sprouted lentils (or any other pulse, legume or seed) takes a bit of time, usually 3-5 days. That being said, the daily effort is minimal – just a minute or two every morning and evening.
So given the time commitment, why do I get my sprout on? Because sprouted lentils are tasty. And, owing to the principles of the Minimalist Foodie Challenge, I like having around pantry items that I can use in multiple ways. While lentils are delicious boiled and braised, they take on an entirely different profile when they’re sprouted – they are crisp, crunchy, and very slightly bitter (in a pleasing way, like baby arugula). I particularly like them in salads and I’ll share one of my favorites with you tomorrow.
The upside to the time investment is that you don’t need any special equipment – a mason (or other glass) jar, some cheesecloth or other open weave material (or a coffee filter in a pinch), and a rubber band. That’s it.
How to Make Sprouted Lentils
Day 1: First thing in the morning, grab some lentils. Measure out half a cup and then sort through and discard any broken or discolored lentils. Rinse the lentils in a strainer under cool running water.
Pour the lentils into a large glass container (I use a half-gallon mason jar). Use a container that is at least 4x the volume of your sprouts, as they will expand in size as they grow.
Add 3-4 cups of filtered water to the lentils, cover the jar with a piece of cheesecloth and secure with a rubber band. Allow the lentils to soak overnight, or up to 24 hours, in a cool location out of direct sunlight.
Day 2: The next morning, the lentils will be fat and plump. Drain and rinse the soaked lentils. I do this by simply inverting the jar (with the cheesecloth still intact) over the sink and allowing the water to drain through the cloth.
Then rinse them again – pour another 3-4 cups of water over the lentils, swirl them around, and drain to remove any remaining bits of the soaking water. Drain as much of the water as possible so that the lentils at the bottom of the jar are not waterlogged. Again, place them in a cool location out of direct sunlight. Later that evening, drain and rinse the lentils and return them to their non-direct-sunlight home. You’re going to repeat this drain-and-rinse process twice a day (I do it first thing in the morning and right after dinner) until your lentils reach the desired level of sprout.
Day 3: Rinse and drain in the morning and evening. You’ll notice that the lentils are probably sporting a cute little tail today.
Day 4: Rise and drain in the morning and evening.
By this day, your lentils just might be ready. It all depends on your kitchen environment and how sprouted you want them to be. Some prefer their lentils barely sprouted (like Day 3) and they are great at this stage if you’re planning to cook them into a soup, stew, or warm salad. For raw consumption, I like to them them go until their initial leaves emerge (like above) and begin to separate (like below).
Day 5: This is how my lentils looked on the fifth morning. Success!
Gently remove the lentils from the glass jar using either your hands or tongs. Rinse them in a strainer under cool running water, then spread them out on a cotton dish cloth or paper towels to dry. Consume immediately, raw, in salads or stuffed into sandwiches. These keep in the fridge for about three days. To store, wrap them in a clean cotton dish cloth or paper towels and place in the fridge.