Grow Sprouts in 4 days


It’s a little bit rainy/snowy outside now, the cats are both snoring on the bed in the room next to my office and I have the book All The Light We Cannot See on my bedside table screaming at me to come read it.  No, seriously.  Screaming. With a German accent. Plus there’s fresh, homemade bread downstairs.

But I can’t light the fire and enjoy the rainy/snowy day, pet the cats, read the book or eat the bread … because of you people and your unrelenting demand for posts.  I’ve mentioned this before.

Sometimes  you people really bug me.

I’ve given it some thought and you people don’t bug me anymore.  My mortgage, food and utility bills bug me.  They’re the life sucking, needy ones in this situation.  Mortgage, food, utilities.  Mortgage, food, utilities.  Basically I live like an Amish person so I have no idea how my expenses are so huge, especially my grocery store bills.  I grow 80% of my own produce, don’t eat a ton of meat and almost never clean my house so that eliminates expensive cleaning products.    I blame it on Joe Fresh.  And Italian cheese.

Somebody asked me the other day if I do the things I do to save money.  Um.  Kind of.  Not really. I mean that’s a small part of why I do the things I do, but really I make bread, grow food,  have chickens and  build stuff because I like doing these things. It makes me feel like I’m better than everyone else.  You know. Superior.  Like a cat.

If I didn’t like doing them it wouldn’t matter how much money I was saving … I wouldn’t do them.  Which is why I would never do my own dental surgery.  Sure I could save some money but I don’t think I’d enjoy doing it.  It depends on what sort of drugs I could get my hands on, I suppose.

Alfalfa Sprouts I grow myself for 2 reasons.  One because there have been a few health scares over them.  In the past 20 years,  there have been 30 sprout outbreaks were people got sick and had to go to the hospital and were forced to wear ugly hospital gowns.  Alfalfa sprouts that were full of toxic, icky, dirty, salmonella juice were to blame.  So that’s reason number one to grow your own sprouts.

Reason number two is, I really like how they look on the kitchen counter. They look cute.

This isn’t the first time I’ve talked about growing sprouts.  One of the very first posts I wrote for this blog 5 years ago was how to grow your own alfalfa sprouts.  Throw some alfalfa seeds  in a mason jar, soak them overnight, then rinse and drain them for a few days.  Voila. Alfalfa sprouts.

Nobody cared.

Mind you I only had about 5 readers at the time. So I’m going to lay this whole sprout growing thing on you one more time.  I’m also using a different technique now which greatly enhances the cuteness of the sprout.

First off you folks are going to have to buy yourself some alfalfa seeds.  You can get organic sprouting seeds online, or from your local health food or bulk store.  You want good quality seeds because most times when alfalfa sprouts become contaminated it isn’t because of the sprouting process it’s because of the seeds. The seeds themselves arrived with bacteria. So don’t buy your sprout seeds from a dirty organic hippie.  Buy them from a clean organic hippie.

Which brings me to my next point.  I do NOT do this, but it’s suggested that when you soak your seeds to get them ready for sprouting you should add a couple of tablespoons of Hydrogen Peroxide to your soaking water.  So say, 2 Tablespoons per 2 cups of water.  This will kill some of any bacteria that’s present on the seed.

How to Grow Alfalfa Sprouts (which are GREAT in sandwiches especially my favourite sandwich ever, and salads)

  • Soak 1-2 Tablespoons of alfalfa seeds overnight in water (or water with hydrogen peroxide if you prefer).
  • Drain and rinse the seeds. Set aside.
  • Fold up a piece of paper towel and stick it in the bottom of a small dish or bowl.alfalfa-seeds-2


  • Add water to the dish with the paper towel then drain it so there isn’t excess water in the bowl.  Just a nicely soaked paper towel.



  • Sprinkle your soaked seeds overtop of the paper towel evenly and in a single layer.




  • Over the next 2 days keep the seeds moist by adding a dribble of water over them.
  • Once the sprouts have established their place on the paper towel (around by the end of day 2) you can carefully rinse and drain the sprouts.  If you rinse them too early or with too much force, your seeds won’t get a chance to root into the paper towel and will go flying all over the place.




  • Rinse and drain twice a day until your sprouts look like sprouts. The photo above is day 4.  The photo below is day 5.




Once they’re all sprouty you can keep them in the fridge for a few days loosely covered with plastic, or in an open plastic bag.  They don’t last long so only make what you’re going to use in a few days.




Sorry about saying you bugged me.  You don’t bug me.  I just get cranky sometimes.  When you don’t let me lounge, pet, read and snack.




  1. I love your writing style and way of explaining. Great pictures used.

  2. Hayley says:

    Thanks, this sounds very simple! I’m just wondering, why rinse and drain them? Why not just add water every daybto keep them moist? What does the rinsing do?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Hayley! Well you don’t sit them in water. That would just make them rot. You rinse to prevent bacteria and pathogens from growing, which also keeps them the right level of moist they need to be to grow. :) ~ karen!

  3. Amanda says:

    Hello, Karen
    I love the humor, pictures, and education that your posts provide. I would never have known this would be so easy! You inspire me.

  4. Kristin says:

    Gonna try these today!
    I’ve always figured I could create my own “sprout mat”, as opposed to just jar sprouting!
    🌱Away I go!!

  5. Luanne says:

    I’m curious….. what was the interest like this time around? I’m interested enough to take action, so I’m assuming it is getting a good response?

  6. jill says:

    Oh exciting. I might have to try this. I used to sprout Flax and Chia in a similar way with paper towel and occasionally mung beans. I fell out of the habit and now you make me want to try again.

  7. Shauna says:

    You should know that I was one of those 5 people who read your original post 5 years ago on growing sprouts. It was, in fact, you who inspired me to grow my own. I still have my mason jar and little mesh strainer that fits on top – all because of you:) You’ve taught me much over the years. And, you’re the ONLY blog I follow.

    I do like the way these look, very cute. May have a new way to try now.

    • Karen says:

      These are infinitely cuter. I think it’s probably easier to deal with the mason jar ones. Easier rinsing etc. But not nearly as cute. I still have my original mason jar and mesh too! And mine is the only blog you follow? That’s quite a compliment. Plus you’ve stuck it out for years! :) Thanks Shauna! ~ karen

  8. Marna says:

    I use to grow my own sprouts years ago, probably started in the mid 70s. Then about 10 years or so ago they said doing it that way would promote bacteria so I stopped. I sure missed growing my own, I had a variety of different types including using mung beans. I will have to give this a try, thanks. :)

  9. Cussot says:

    Thank you for this, Karen. Right this minute a gnarly little ball of red clover sprouts is struggling to grow in a Mason jar on my windowsill. Not cute enough.

  10. Mindy says:

    I remember your first post, too, I just haven’t managed to come across any seeds. Suppose I should just order them online.

  11. Nancy S in Winnipeg says:

    I’ve grown sprouts in a jar since the 70s. Fast, easy and I just love sprouts. Not sure I’m ready to switch to growing in a dish.
    I added them to my bread dough one time. Great nutty flavour, but, the little green flecks kinda freaked me out. Maybe I’ve matured enough not to judge. And also I don’t have a 4 year old going “Yech!”
    Keep up the good work. I love reading what you write.

  12. Tara says:

    WAY cuter than sprouts in a mason jar, I am so doing it your way! And, I love the new website design, it’s cool and classy, like you!

  13. Marti says:

    Excellent. I have white square bowls and a boatload of broccoli seeds. (Or were those alfalfa seeds? Not going to ask niece. She bugs me.)

    Where is the post that says what I won, please?

  14. John @ PADL says:

    These are so cute that I almost want to grow them just for fun! I bet the kids would get a kick out of it.

  15. Sandy Grevatt says:

    The sprouts look super will give them a try.
    Regarding your library, All The Light We Cannot See was an awesome book. I have read it and many others that are on your bookshelf. Now reading in paperback (complete with dog tags, and tea spit from laughing, Bill Bryson’s Notes From a Small Island. At this time this is my day time and/or lock myself in the bathroom book. Also reading on Kindle Small Vegetables: Tangled Roots in a Small Village. This is my go to bed and turn off the lights book. Thanks Karen for the laughs and info. Going to try dioramas on gifs this year, should be interesting.
    Granny G

    • Karen says:

      I might be doing my Dioramas again this year Sandy! I can’t seem to think of a wrapping idea. I normally know exactly what I’m doing by now. Eep. And after last year’s Dioramas I’m under a bit of pressure to impress, lol. ~ karen!

  16. Kim from Milwaukee says:

    Thank you for the peroxide tip, Karen! Now I must make a loaf of bread so I can have a bologna and sprout sammich when they’re full grown. You think the sprout’s nutrition will offset the bologna? Here’s to hoping!

  17. Nancy Blue Moon says:

    Do Cleo and Ernie eat your sprouts?…Two of my cats are plant eaters and will go for most any plant I bring home..That is why I have to check online first to see if any are toxic to them….Sprouts are yummy in sandwiches and salads…they are also good in homemade egg rolls..Suggestion: Maybe you could cut back on potato chips and Diet Coke to save on your grocery bill…I am also thankful for you Karen…your DIYs, your advice, your cats, your recipes..and for sharing with me your good news and your bad news…For all of this and much more…I Thank You my friend…

  18. Tracy says:

    Hi Karen- I just love your humor! Please don’t ever stop sharing it.
    Since I’m not a fan of sprouts, is there another type of greens that I can grow with this method?

  19. Julie says:

    Well I’ve been growing sprouts with your jar method for a couple of years…I have sprouts on my lunch sandwich nearly every day! I feel like it would be a lot more annoying to rinse them if they were rooted in a piece of paper towel! Super cute tho!

  20. Dagmar says:

    Okay, so now I *must* know the difference between watercress and these sprouts. I mean, I am smart enough to figure out they come from different “mother” sources. But I can’t imagine where in the world the brussel’s sprouts hold seeds within them ? And watercress ? I always thought that was from the lettuce family. So again, where could there be seeds within this plant? Please forgive my ignorance; but the only stupid question IS the one not asked.

    Oh, and Karen. I hope you know that your blog gets a lot of us out of the gutter and back on our feet again. Thank you for the joy. ?

  21. Karin says:

    oh don’t worry deary, you bug me too.

    you with your brilliant hilarity and your helpful and inspiring tricks and ideas and your overall adorability – which I didn’t even know was a real word until I looked it up. there!!! you make me smarter by just writing a comment.

    I do love your idea of growing sprouts in a dish or bowl, though. when I first came across this wonderful thing of “grow yer own sprouts” I actually bought one of them plastic grow containers. not bad for starters but I gave that up real quick and switched to mason jars. I don’t quite recall why I stopped doing that….

    … and then you come along, bugging the poop outta me with your ingeniousness, so guess what we’re having on Sunday… yeah, thanks a lot… oh, and now I hafta go back to the original post from all those many years ago and reread THAT one as well….

    it’s a tough job loving your blog, but someone’s gotta do it.

    have a great day.

  22. Jody says:

    Bug, bug, bug, bug……on a side note, if I was ever famous enough and people cared enough to ask who I was wearing I would have to say “Joe Fresh”

  23. Jan in Waterdown says:

    I went out the other night with a bunch of gals to a tapas restaurant in Burlington and the open kitchen had a huge white dish of water cress sprouts displayed above their prep station. It looked super chic and of course, the sprouts were a garni on everything. Have you had radish sprouts? They taste quite tangy. I guess sprouting stuff results in a concentrated flavour of the mature plant. Cheers to you, you super cute and super chic chick! lol!

  24. Linda in Illinois says:

    Happy Thanksgiving – I am Thankful for you Karen.

  25. Susan Coady-Butler says:

    Karen your posts are the first thing to read online each night. Once I read them, I know I can then go to bed. Sometimes I do, most times I keep puttering around getting things done and smiling as I think about whatever you wrote about. I have been growing sprouts for years…since the 1970’s…yes people that lived then are still lurking about! I’ve always used the jar with the screen type lids that go from tiny holes to larger holes. I love the look of the sprouts in the little container with the paper “medium” but I’m wondering if the essence of the paper with the bleaches, chemicals, dioxins would effect the make up of the sprouts. Keep up the good work , we enjoy pretend cranky Karen. Take a few minutes to read, pet the cat, eat well, and sit by the fire.

  26. deborah kimbell says:

    Sprouts are also a fabulous winter-time treat for the chickens, if you can bear to share them…

  27. Sandy says:

    Thank you for this post, Karen. I love sprouts but gave them up after the scare. I think it would be great to have something growing in the middle of winter.

  28. jo says:

    I do remember the original post. Have always wanted to try this, only with mustard seeds. Do you think the ones you buy at the grocery store would work? The seed company’s sell some but it was quite expensive. Thoughts?

    • Karen says:

      Hmm. I have no idea, lol. All you can do is try. Chances are it would work. ~ karen!

      • Chris says:

        I have grown mustard from the seeds in the spice aisle, and they are lovely and a bit hot. I grew them in soil in a little pot in the summer, but I am sure they would work.

  29. jillian says:

    I have been growing sprouts for years….alfalfa, fenugreek, diakon radish, broccoli, etc. but they never look as pretty as yours! Well, I just use the jar method or some green sprout dishes that stack on top of each other. So easy to do and full of value with little cost.

    I only grow and eat them in the late fall to late spring to get some very fresh veggies loaded with enzymes and nutrients. I have never had a problem with food poisoning in my own home but then again, I don’t wipe my butt, pick my nose or do just plain nasty things then handle food without washing my hands. lol

    So happy you posted this. It was a good reminder to get growin some sprouts!

  30. Rose says:

    I hear you Canadian! I have a great book and cozy fireplace calling to me but am in a flurry of Thanksgiving prep. Your blog is definitely one of the things I am grateful for. It’s given me much joy through the years!

  31. Diana says:

    Best part was the German accent, because when I`m reading your post I`m reading it with your accent… I had to switch from German to you and back to German….
    Maybe I will grow them and scream at them in my German way that they have to grow faster!

  32. Sally says:

    My Favourite sprouts are a sandwich mix I buy in bulk organically from Mumm seeds (canadian company) they are awesome! Have you ever looked into the benefits of sprouted broccoli seeds? I feed my chickens sprouts, add them on top of any salad and even toss them on top of soup; such a great thing to encourage people to try and do for themselves! Very worthwhile. And your favourite sandwich looks super tasty too!

  33. Christina says:

    This was like a mystery tour to me because I didn’t have a clue what alfalfa was although I’d heard the word before. I clicked the link in the email thinking “Alfalfa sprouts? Are they anything like Brussels Sprouts & if so how can you grow them in 4 days?” Then I saw the picture & thought “Watercress. She means watercress.” It’s quite funny how often it happens.

    • Jacquie says:

      I think you must be British? I’m not sure they’re the same thing but I love cress on a samitch. Unfortunately watercress usually describes the big leaved type but all Brits of a certain age will remember growing cress on a sheet of blotting paper :-)

    • Karen says:

      Hi Christina, lol. Do you still think that alfalfa sprouts are watercress? Alfalfa sprouts are the initial growing sprouts of Alfalfa. The kind of thing you feed to livestock. ~ karen!

  34. Sherry in Alaska says:

    I wonder if the vodka idea would work? Grow sprouts often and I do not like the peroxide idea so much….. Thanks for a nifty alternative to the jar (though I really never cared much how they look. It’s that yummy green goodness I love.)

  35. Michael Hill says:

    Also one can add Colloidal Silver to your sprouts in stead of hydrogen peroxide.
    Colloidal Silver is without doubt the best antibiotic on planet earth. I drink it every
    day…a mouth full. Every package of bread I open I spray silver into the package.
    This keeps the bread slightly damp and no critters. I spray it onto my sprouts.
    Use your imagination.
    I make my own silver…the water from an artesian spring 10 miles up the mountain
    from where I live.
    Hold the silver in your mouth maybe 5 minutes…swish it around…and let it slowly
    run down the throat. This purifies the mouth and gums…and heals them.

  36. Paula says:

    I am going to try this. I still didn’t get a notification email and there wasn’t anything in junk :(

    • Karen says:

      HI Paula. I just added your email address to my subscription list. You will have just been sent an email from “Mailchimp” asking you to confirm your subscription. So watch for it. ~ karen!

  37. Anne says:

    Thanks, I am one of those complainers. I know that you have a life to live, but am glad to be included in it.

  38. I kind of like the idea of anti-bacterializing one’s seeds, but hydrogen peroxide doesn’t sound great. Vinegar is anti-viral. Would that work instead?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Madeleine. No, the vinegar wouldn’t be the same. But you don’t have to fear hydrogen peroxide. It’s perfectly safe for this (and many other uses) “Hydrogen peroxide is seen as an environmentally safe alternative to chlorine-based bleaches, as it degrades to form oxygen and water and it is generally recognized as safe as an antimicrobial agent by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)”

      ~ karen!

  39. Barbie says:

    your description of the cat, the fire, and the book, sounded so very inviting! However I started wondering instead if I had time to do 3 of those cute lil containers of spouts before thanksgiving …. Don’t think so ….but it sure would look cute sitting up in my window sill all in a row!

  40. MissChris SA says:

    Sit back, relax, pet your cats etc.
    We prefer the non cranky version of you (just kidding – you not that cranky)

  41. Sera says:

    Would it work to soak the seeds in vodka instead of hydrogen peroxide? I tend to have vodka on hand. When I’m not drinking it. I love the adorable dish you’re growing then in. How tall is it? I never wanted to grow them in a mason jar because I don’t think it looks that great. Although, I guess you wouldn’t have to transfer the sprouts to a different container when you put them in the fridge. Anyway, I don’t remember the original sprouts post, but I do think I’ve been reading your blog since the beginning. I have a terrible memory though, so you could probably rewrite all of your posts and I’d read them just like new.
    I also have that book, but it isn’t screaming at me. I’m too scared I’ll cry the entire time I’m reading it. I’m just way too emo anymore. And apparently prone to babbling nonsensically in comments. Sorry about that.

    • Karen says:

      Huh. My niece got so emotional after having kids she cried all the way through the movie Bridesmaids. It was too sad for her. Bridesmaids. The Movie. With Melissa McCarthy. ~ karen!

      • Sera says:

        Hahaha! I guess I’m not that bad. I only cry at everything else. Although I was trying to explain to my 23 year old nanny who Bette Midler was and was describing the premise of Beaches and, yep, started tearing up. The babe will be a year old on the first. I’m wondering if I’ll ever get my sanity back. Not so sure.

  42. Jessica M says:

    I remember the original post! I promised myself I would do this, but haven’t. Thanks for the reminder ;-)

  43. peg says:

    wanted to do the pea sprouts like you had done awhile back,but of course they don’t’ sell here in the bean/rice aisle of grocery. to expensive in the garden section for a envelope with 10 or so seeds. do love the alfalfa seeds. :D

  44. barbee says:

    Not a huge fan of sprouts, but definitely a huge fan of you!

    • Karen says:

      Ha! Well, thanks. Can’t blame you for not liking sprouts. They’re weird tasting. I like em, but they’re weird tasting. ~ karen!

  45. AnnW from the US says:

    If you don’t want to write, turn on the chicken cam. Or re run some old posts, that way we don’t have to go backwards.

    • Kat says:

      I miss the coop cam! I want the coop cam up and running for Christmas with a Christmas song and Karen in her Boggs Boots and cuddles on her lap! Now that would be a fun Christmas instead of watching some stupid Yule log burning all day and waiting to see that arm dressed in a plaid shirt poking at the fire. We could start a petition “Christmas Coop Cam”!

  46. Diane says:

    Karen, your blog brings me so much joy and a guffaw every time I read it. Thanks for adding extra light to my life! Just thought you should know. Now go light that fire!

  47. Rosemary Burrows says:

    I still do my sprouts in a mason jar. These ones look so much cuter. And I like the hydrogen peroxide tip, tx.

  48. Bronwyn says:

    Blogging, hey? It’s a curse. I’m cursed with constantly coming up with new ideas and doing stuff for my sons’ school’s Parents and Friends Association. If I wasn’t doing that I’d have time for chickens and sprouts. Still, like you, I enjoy it. Carry on.

  49. Jani says:

    I love sprouts but gave them up after the scare with people getting so sick. Thanks for sharing this. I just really love the nutty taste on a sandwich!! You are the best!!

  50. Sharon says:

    I hope you love All the Light You Cannot See. What a wonderful story. It screamed at me, too.

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