Sprouting on the trail or at home is similar. The process requires soaking, draining and rinsing seeds at regular intervals until they germinate or sprout, which takes about 48 hours.
The sprouting mechanism you use at home may be different for the trail. A fabric sack works well for the trail. A regular mason jar is more convenient at home.
The entire process of growing sprouts is easy and is great for long hikes. You can take sprouts with you on shorter hikes, but we recommend starting the germination process at home. If you are hiking for 2 – 3 days, start the sprouting process at home (2 days prior to your hike) then pack them out in a fabric sack. They’ll continue to grow for the duration of your hike with the proper care. Ready to get started?
1. Get a sprouting mechanism
A fabric bag will offer the lightest weight for the trail. It can also be hung to the outside of your pack, so pockets remain free for other items.
Look for a fabric sack that will allow for air circulation and light and is woven tightly enough that the seed will not fall through the fabric weave. Hemp fabric works exceptionally well because it is naturally mold resistant and durable. Some people have success with cheesecloth bags, or muslin sacks used for squeezing nuts for making nut milk, as well as hosiery socks or liners, and aquarium filter media bags. We prefer hemp.
Plastic or Glass Container
A transparent or opaque plastic Nalgene container works well on the trail or when traveling. A glass quart-sized mason jar works well at home.
Fit the top of the container with a perforated lid to allow for water drainage and air circulation. Make sure the straining material does not allow the seed to fall through when draining. If using a mason jar, cut out a round section of window screen and fit it into the metal ring that screws to the top of the jar. Other possible sources for a ventilated mesh lid include: punching a plastic lid with pinholes, drilling into a metal lid, butter muslin or cheesecloth, pantyhose, and aquarium netting. You can secure the mesh material with a rubber band to act as the lid.
2. Obtain Seeds
Purchase seeds intended for consumption or sprouting, not garden seed. Look for certified organic seed. You can find sprouting seeds online or at health food stores.
3. Start Sprouting
The process requires soaking, draining and then rinsing seeds at regular intervals until they germinate, or sprout (about 48 hours). Follow these steps to begin sprouting seed –
a. Measure out the required amount of seed. Sprouts increase in volume 6 – 8 times for greens and 2 – 3 times for beans.
2 – 4 TB of seed is enough for a single batch to grow and fill up an entire quart-sized container or sprout bag.
b. Soak the seeds in fresh water overnight, or about 8 – 10 hours.
If using a sprout bag: you can immerse the bag directly in a bowl of water or soak seeds directly in the container.
c. The next day: Drain off the water, rinse the seeds with fresh water and drain again.
If using a sprout bag: transfer the seeds to the sprout bag. Shake the bag to remove excess water.
If using a container: turn the jar on its side to allow air to dry any excess water and circulate to the seed.
d. Continue to rinse seeds daily by pouring clean (treated) water over the seeds or immersing the sprout bag in water. Drain the water from the container, or shake the bag to remove excess water.
e. Place the sprouting medium near sunlight. Sprouts do not require light to germinate but should have light once germinated. Indirect or low light will work.
Need additional information? See our detailed instructions for sprouting seed.
Eating and Storing Sprouts
- You can consume the sprout as soon as the first shoot emerges. Depending on the type of sprout you are growing, the shoot will appear as soon as 48 hours after soaking and rinsing the seed. It will have a grainy/chewy texture but is easily digestible.
- Salad-type sprouts such as alfalfa, broccoli, clover, radish, etc. are usually grown to a more mature leaf stage which takes about 4 days.
- Sprouts will stay good on the trail up to 2 weeks if kept moist by daily rinsing. They are best consumed when fresh, within the first week.
- Sprouts grown at home keep best when refrigerated. You can store them in the same jar you sprouted from. Make sure the container allows for ventilation because the sprouts will continue to grow even in the refrigerator.
This video “How To Make Fresh Sprouts With Sprouting Seed” presented by mountainroseherbs captures the process well.
Ready to begin sprouting? Outdoor Herbivore offers a trail sprout kit to help you get started. Our starter sprout kit includes 1 hemp sprout bag with an ultralight carabiner, a 4 oz bag of organic sprout seeds, plus a 4 oz bag of organic sprout beans. This kit includes everything you need to begin sprouting while on the trail. The hemp sprout bag is designed to hang on your backpack. It can also hang on the rear view mirror when traveling.
See also Outdoor Herbivore’s trail sprouting page.