If you’re not sprouting seeds, you should be. No matter how big, small or nonexistent your garden, seed sprouts are one of the healthiest and quickest things you can grow.
You’d be forgiven for thinking that “sprouters” are a waste of money. A jar and square of cheesecloth are just as good, surely?
Well, not entirely. The main benefit of sprouters is that they allow you to sprout lots of different seeds in one big, multi-compartment “jar”. They’re also much easier to water and clean. I’m a convert and I guarantee you will be once you give them a go.
Sprouts are rich in a myriad of nutrients
I’ve written about some of the health benefits of sprouts before. They are, quite frankly, amazing. I know that everybody and their pet iguana is banging on about the latest superfood, but sprouts really do stand up to the scrutiny. If you were to actually get a group of nutritionists together to decide on the “world’s healthiest food” then I’m pretty sure sprouts would win.
They’re rich in a myriad of disease-fighting and rejuvenating nutrients and compounds. A study by John Hopkins University found that broccoli sprouts contain between 20 and 50 times the protective compounds found in a mature plant. Mung beans are another noteworthy example. They have been eaten for millennia and are packed full of proteins and antioxidants.
What is a sprouter?
You’re basically getting three things: a “sieve” lid for letting water in, stackable chambers and a drainage base. With the more expensive models, there are also other frills like self-watering mechanisms.
These big three are all improvements over the DIY method. The sieve lid is easy to clean and doesn’t need to be thrown away after every use like cheesecloth. The chambers allow you to grow different types of seeds. So you don’t need one jar for the radishes, one for the mung beans and another for the broccoli. Finally, the drainage base is great for preventing the build-up of stagnant water. I used to have to tip my mason jars upside down in a bowl to make sure all the water drained out.
Water will drain down through the chambers so you only need to rinse once, no matter how many different types of seeds you’re sprouting.
The best sprouters in 2017: my favourite picks
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1. Deluxe 4-Tray Sprouter (Victorio)
Of all the models I sampled, this one from Victorio was the best all-rounder. For the relatively inexpensive price, you get four big trays (6 in. in diameter), a mesh top and a drainage tray. You can actually buy more trays to increase the size too, which is a nice little plus. The plastic is BPA-free.
One of the interesting things about this sprouter is the unique (patent-pending) drainage design. Cleaning trays can be a pain in the a***, not to put too fine a point on it. The little embryonic seedlings have a way of lodging themselves into drainage holes and they’re a nightmare to get out. The uniquely-designed slats in the base of the compartments prevent this from happening.
You water by filling the reservoir at the top and it filters through the trays – much easier than having to rinse and drain!
2. Jar Sprouter (Sprout-Ease)
If you’re a bit more of a traditionalist then this sprouter is ideal. It’s essentially a mason jar with three different lids/toppers. Each lid has different sized holes, making it easy to drain different seeds – small broccoli seeds, for example, won’t fall through, while you can use a larger lid for other seeds, making drainage quicker.
The other good thing about this product is the price. It’s inexpensive and, whilst you could make your own kit with a mason jar, the lids really are a godsend. They’re much easier to clean, more hygienic than cheesecloth, and overcome the problem of small sprouts getting stuck or big ones blocking off drainage. You can buy replacement lids too.
3. Freshlife Automatic Sprouter (Tribest)
If you really want to supercharge your sprouting then this is the product to go with. It’s a little pricier than other options but will turn your kitchen worktop into a veritable jungle. Ok, maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but it ain’t far off!
The water goes into the base of the sprouter, where a motor lifts it through various levels. The tube can be adjusted for various levels of pressure (more or less water). Water is released and distributed via a small spinner at the top of the unit. Below is an excellent video from Steve Meyerowitz (aka “The Sproutman”) where he goes through each of the individual parts.
One last point: don’t be put off by the price. This is for those people that want to grow lots of sprouts. Because of removable pads that are included, you can also grow plants like wheatgrass upright (as you would with microgreens), with the roots at the bottom, which will cling to the removable seed trays.
4. Two-Tier Seed Sprouter (Gardens Alive!)
I adore this little two-tier seed sprouter. Though it might not perform as well as some of the others on this list, it’s easily my favourite. It’s only 4.8 in wide by 5.5 in. long so fits nondescriptly on a windowsill or kitchen worktop.
The design is simple: two compartments, a reservoir tray at the top and a drainage tray at the base. If you’re happy with the quantity of sprouts that you get from a traditional jar set-up but want the convenience of not having to fill up and drain two or three times a day, then this will be perfect for you. There have been some complaints about smaller seeds slipping through but I haven’t had any issues.
5. Micro Farm Sprouter (EasyGreen)
This is the most expensive and also the highest-yielding sprouter on this list. It’s great if you want lots of sprouts or even sprouts for a small restaurant. Because of the design, you can even use it to start seedlings intended for growing, “pricking out” when they’re ready to be transferred.
The sprouts are watered via a mist generator that can be set to come on as frequently as you want. There’s are five compartments and, because there’s no movement, seeds are encouraged to sprout in an upright manner. Air is also exchanged which helps guard against bacteria. You have a choice of using four separate tray-compartments or one large one.
What are your thoughts? Leave a comment below!
So there you have it! My selection of the best five sprouters! Have you tried any of the products on this list? Do you have your own suggestions? Leave a comment below and let me know!