How to Soak & Sprout Nuts, Seeds, Grains, & Beans | Vegetarian Times Skip to main content

How to Soak & Sprout Nuts, Seeds, Grains, & Beans

How to Soak & Sprout Nuts, Seeds, Grains, & Beans

Nuts, seeds, grains, and beans are nutritional powerhouses. However, the natural agents that protect them from early germination can wreak havoc in our digestive system. Soaking and sprouting replicates germination, which activates and multiplies nutrients (particularly Vitamins A, B, and C), neutralizes enzyme inhibitors, and promotes the growth of vital digestive enzymes.

Soaking and sprouting is very easy. The method is exactly the same for nuts, seeds, grains, and beans—only the time required for full germination changes. (See the table below.)

Please note: Many “raw” nuts and seeds have been pasteurized and irradiated. Truly raw almonds and peanuts will sprout, but those that have been pasteurized and irradiated will “activate” with soaking, but will not physically “sprout.” However, soaking still removes anti-nutrients (compounds that can interfere with the absorption of nutrients), increases nutrient density, and makes the nuts more digestible.



PLACE  in a large glass bowl or mason jar, and cover with warm, filtered water (about a 2:1 ratio) and about ½ tsp. Celtic sea salt. Cover with a light cloth for desired time.

RINSE food thoroughly and drain.

USE these activated “non sprouts” immediately to make plant-based "milks." (Read my recent post on How to Make Plant-Based "Milks.") You can also cook soaked and rinsed grains immediately, using them just as would un-sprouted grains in any of your favorite recipes or as a bed for vegetable dishes. Do note that most soaked grains only need a 1:1 water/broth ratio to be cooked through because they are already plumped with water.


DEHYDRATE in a food dehydrator at no higher than 115º F for 12 to 24 hours, and store in sealed glass containers in the fridge. Beware: If nuts are not completely dry, they will develop mold.



GET a quart-sized (or larger) mason jar. Remove the solid middle insert of the lid, and cut a piece of cheesecloth or breathable mesh to fit inside.

FILL one-third of the jar with nuts, seeds, grains, or beans, and fill the rest of the jar with warm, filtered water and about ½ tsp Celtic sea salt. Screw the lid on with cheesecloth or breathable mesh screen in place.

SOAK For soaking times, see table below.

DRAIN/RINSE Remove the mesh insert of the lid, and replace with metal insert. Pour the soaking water out of the jar, fill with fresh water, replace lid, and rinse well by shaking jar. Replace the metal insert with the mesh lid again, and drain. 

INVERT the jar and lay at an angle so that air can circulate, and the water can drain off. Allow to sit in the light.

REPEAT this process, rinsing every few hours, or at least twice daily.

WAIT  In 1 to 4 days, the sprouts will be ready. Sprouts vary from 1/8-inch to 2-inches long. When ready, rinse sprouts well, drain, and store in a jar (with the solid part of the lid replaced) in the fridge.

ENJOY within  2 to 3 days. Sprouts are a fabulous nutrient-rich addition to raw salads, sandwiches, and wraps, and are also tasty in smoothies, soups, and stews.



FOOD SOAKING TIME (hours) SPROUTING TIME (days) Almonds 8-12 No Sprouting (if pasteurized) 3 Days (if truly raw) Adzuki Beans 8-12 4 Amaranth 8 1-3 Barley 6 2 Black Beans 8-12 3 Brazil Nuts 3 No Sprouting Buckwheat 6 2-3 Cashews 2-4 No Sprouting Chickpeas/Garbanzo 8 2-3 Flaxseeds ½ No Sprouting Hazelnuts 8-12 No Sprouting Kamut 7 2-3 Lentils 7 2-3 Macadamias 2 No Sprouting Millet 5 12 hours Mung Beans 8-12 4 Oat Groats 6 2-3 Pecans 6 No Sprouting Pistachios 8 No Sprouting Pumpkin Seeds 8 3 Radish Seeds 8-12 3-4 Sesame Seeds 8 2-3 Sunflower Seeds 8 12-24 hours Quinoa 4 2-3 Walnuts 4 No Sprouting Wheat Berries 7 3-4 Wild Rice 9 3-5


PLEASE NOTE: Sprouts can be subject to contamination which can result in bacterial growth such as E. coli, leading to food-borne illnesses. Always purchase organic fresh products from a reputable source, wash your hands thoroughly before handling foods, and keep sprouting equipment and all kitchen surfaces clean to avoid cross contamination. Always consume sprouts within a few days, fresh and straight out of the fridge. Some health organizations also recommend consuming them cooked to reduce the risk of infection. I certainly consume raw homemade sprouts, and have never had an issue. Decide what is a responsible choice for you and your family.



Tess Masters is an Australian actor, presenter, voice-over artist, cook, and writer living in Los Angeles.
 Her alter-ego, “The Blender Girl” writes the quirky vegetarian recipe blog Healthy Blender Recipes, where she shares super quick and easy gluten-free, vegetarian, vegan, and raw recipes. Join Tess on FacebookTwitter, PinterestYou Tube, and Google +.



Comments on this Blog

I've always wondered about this. When you sprout grains or beans, do you just eat the sprouts that come out of the bean/grain or can you eat the actual beans/grains as well?

You eat the actual bean or grain, too, not just the tail that comes out. Some people have difficulty digesting sprouted beans, but just try and see. Hippocrates Health Institute is big into sprouted legumes and other sprouts. "Living Foods for Optimal Health" is a good book that has lots of recipes for sprouts. This and the guide on Tess's blog are good. The oat groats at the store won't sprout because they have been steamed, but you can order hulless oats for sprouting. A few chia seeds stuck in the lid of my chia gel container ended up sprouting. It was crazy.

I soaked and sprouted lentils a few times, on a similar timeframe as you describe above. I noticed that when I eat the raw sprouts, it gave me a lot of bloating and gas, but when I cooked the sprouts, there was no obvious effect. Is this common? Am I missing out on enzymes and nutrients by cooking the sprouts? I have the feeling the gas/bloating is a sign that the lentil sprouts aren't doing great things for my digestive flora, is this correct? Thanks!

I'm totally addicted to my sprouter. My favourite is mung beans, which are super lovely in a stir fry.

Yay, thanks for the easy, clear instructions. I had received some seeds and sprouting jars as a gift, but I had no luck getting good results. Time to reread your article and give it another try! Thanks! <3

@Tori You eat the whole thing. SO good for us! Just make sure you store them correctly and eat them fresh to avoid bacteria etc. @Kelli Thankyou for helping Tori, and for your valuable suggestions. @Shana Pleasure. I have had great results for years using this really simple method. Let me know how you go. @Bibi LOVE Mung Beans too. @Megan S - Yes, this is quite common with legumes. Yes, for the live enzymes and nutritional density it is best to consume sprouts raw. However, every body is different, and we each digest and tolerate foods different. Clearly, you can't tolerate raw legume sprouts. If cooked is the only way you can enjoy them great! Also, important to note that from a food combining perspective (not eating starches and proteins together, and eating fruit separately etc) legumes are both a starch and a protein, which besides their composition, contributes to the gas and bloating effect. You can decrease this effect by consuming legumes sprouts with green leafy vegetables, and combining them with ginger, turmeric, and some other spices. Here is a great article with some fabulous ideas. I hope this helps.

So just to confirm you leave the mesh lid on while the sprouts are growing (in between rinsings) and out of the fridge? Thanks :)

@Dannii - Yes. You remove the mesh screen and replace the hard lid to shake with water and rinse etc. Then you replace the mesh screen and lay the jar on the side to allow the air to circulate and the sprouts to breathe. Have fun :)

I just bought a dehydrator and want to learn about soaking/sprouting nuts and seeds. I'm reading as much as I can. I just soaked some pumpkin seeds overnight and want to put them in my dehydrator sprinkled with a little salt. Does it make sense though for me to let them sprout a few days then dehydrate? Or would that be a waste of sprouting?? Thanks for your website!!

@Holly Let the pumpkin seeds sprout for the whole 3 days if you are going to consume them on salads etc. If you are dehydrating them, soak overnight and then dehydrate. Their nutrient potential has been "activated" and they are easily digested. Enjoy.

Hi I mistakenly put pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds in a jar of pure water in fridge because I thought they were better for you that way. I took them out after 3 days and there were sprouts on them(I didn't really know they would do that). I rinsed them and bagged them put them in fridge. How long are they good for from the day I bagged them I had a mason jar of each soaking so I have a full baggie of each now

Is there a difference between activating or sprouting nuts, seeds and legumes? Can I sprout or activate raw cashews that have been steamed open or does the heat prevent that?

Hi I have a question! When soaking any type of nut or seed I am soaking them in a mason jar covered with a table cloth. Do I soak them at room temp OR soak them I the fridge?? Thank you.

@Marie Sprouts should be stored completely dry in the fridge and should keep that way for a few days. They are best consumed within 2 to 3 days. @Upcycler - you can absolutely activate the nutrient potential of nuts and seeds that are not truly raw and have been steamed open. They will not physically sprout. But they will activate and you will remove the enzyme inhibitors. @Adam soak at room temperature with some salt and a little bit of apple cider vinegar or lemon juice.

I regularly sprout flaxseeds here in the UK.

This article is exactly what I've been looking for. Also, Tess's Blender Recipes page is fantastic. It has amazing and easy recipes as well very useful information and tips on living a healthy lifestyle through proper eating of nutrient rich foods. I am not affiliated with Tess in anyway but I am very much a fan of her facebook page. Thanks to social media people can be informed daily of what is in this case very useful information of leading a healthy lifestyle from nutrition. ~Kenton

Does the "no sprouting" mean those nuts cannot be sprouted period or does it refer to the non raw ones? We just got some truly raw hazelnuts and my FIL is upset that they won't sprout. He wants to see an actual little sprout like he used to sprout his raw almonds. Thanks for any help. I've been trying to find an answer online..

Can I rinse my seeds, nuts, grains and beans before soaking?

@Georgina Great! @Kenton Thankyou so much for the lovely glowing endorsement. I really appreciate you taking the time to leave such a lovely comment. It made my day. I am glad you have find my articles useful, and it is lovely to be connected. @Amanda - Yes, absolutely rinse your foods prior to soaking. It is actually preferable.

@Rebeccar Sorry for any confusion. Truly raw almonds can physically sprout a tail. But other "no sprouting" items means they do not physically sprout a tail. But, their nutrient potential is activated.

If my almonds and walnuts taste slightly fermented, should I throw them out. I think my mistake was not refridgerating sooner......

Hi Tess, what's hemp seeds soaking time? thanks! Mike

@Debra Once your nuts or seeds have activated or sprouted you must put them in the fridge dry as soon as possible. Then they will last for about 3 days on average. If they taste fermented get rid of them. To keep activated nuts, seeds, and grains longer, dehydrate after soaking.

@Mike I don't soak hemp seeds.

Is the salt really necessary for soaking?

It is necessary to soak grains, nuts and seeds to make them easily digestible and gather the most nutritional benefits from them. Also to eliminate the toxic substance found in them it is necessary to soak them before cooking. If you wish to know the detail information about their nutritional content value, you can read the blog of Boris Wolfman that will give you good idea and help you to determine its intake daily.

@Rebecca yes, the salt activates the process. @Tannercarranza - thanks for sharing.

How do you store them after they're sprouted?

Quinoa sprouts in a matter of hours, not days

@Peter Foss - you get them as dry as possible and then store them in a sealed glass jar in the fridge. They will keep for about 2 to 3 days. @Roger Sprouted to full potential in hours? I haven't had that experience. But, thanks for your input.

Can you recommend a dehydrator? I would also like to use it to make yogurt. Thank you.

I just bought a hemp sprout bag and starter mix and am new to sprouting. I have a few questions: - will whole grain rolled oats from Kroger/HEB sprout? - will any bean sprout? I prefer to buy local/organic but, the specialty shops with these mixes are much higher priced than a bag of beans from grocery stores. Thanks, Kyle

As you search for discount codes and deals, you may inadvertently stumble across a virus.

Oat groats will sprout in 2-3 days. Not rolled oats. Black beans, garbanzo beans, adzuki beans, lentils, mung beans, and some others will sprout. yes.

Mary - I really love the Excalibur Dehydrators. 9-Tray with Timer is a great investment.

I purchased a package of organic seeds, marketed for sprouting. However, the package recommends soaking them in bleach (to avoid E.Coli). Well, this feels like defeating the purpose! Is this necessary? If so, is there something else I can use that won't kill the "good" part about sprouts?

Thank you Tess! Btw you are GORGEOUS! WOW! <3

Hi, thank you for this awesome wealth of information. I've 2 questions. Which seed do I use for "beansprouts", and what are the soaking time and sprouting times for alfalfa seeds? thank you so much! Cynthia

Hi there Tess, Thanks for blogging about sprouting. I had no idea that soaking in salt water had a nutrient unlocking effect on nuts, beans and seeds, etc. Ill try this out :) Also, which part of LA are you in? Do you teach workshops too or provide consulting? I am from LA and currently live in San Diego so only a skip away...I am a 32 year old nutritionist and athlete so having this information will be great to pass on. Have you noticed a difference in the way you feel after soaking/sprouting verses not? Best, Jonathan Ohana (858) 740-1660

No luck sprouting soy beans...bitter tasting, turn green or brown and takes forever

Tess, I see that you recommend dehydrating nuts after soaking to keep them longer. Can they be frozen instead? Typically, I freeze nuts and seeds to maintain freshness, but I've never soaked them first. What are your thoughts?

What's with the "Celtic sea salt"? Why not just regular plain salt, or regular sea salt? Why does it have to be fancy, expensive, and Celtic?

A good source for Organic sprouting seeds, grains and beans is SunOrganic Farm.

Hi Tess, Every time I eat Quinoa I vomit. Do you think that sprouting the grain may change something that would allow me to consume it without getting sick to my stomach?

Hi, great information. I sprout buckwheat, nit sure which grains to soak or sprout. But anyway I dehydrate the, how long can i stor ein the fridge. I have had them for a few weeks, and cooked kasha, they were fine. Cheers Alana

Would I do the same soaking for scarlett runner beans?

Hi Tess. I was just introduced to sprouting by a very knowlageable man at the Topanga farmers market. I Love these sprouts, but now I want to sprout my own. Where do you recommend ordering the beans and grains from? Thank you, Elizabeth

Hi Tess... thank you for the information. I'm curious has to how you determined the sprouting/soaking times for the various nuts. I've seen sites that recommend soaking of walnuts and pecans all the way up to 12 hours. I have dried the longer times and found both types of nuts seem to become very soggy and soft. So your times seem more realistic and was curious if this was empirical or authoritative? Also, it seems to me that dehydrating the nuts after sprouting allows them to last beyond the 2 to 3 days. Would you agree with that or do you feel it is still recommended to eat the nuts within a few days of sprouting/dehydrating them? Thanks again...

why is there a "no sprouting" with pistachios?

Hi Tess Fantastic tips making sprout seeds keep it up