How to Grow Alfalfa Sprouts at Home


Because of salmonella and E. coli outbreaks since 1995, growing alfalfa sprouts is no longer as simple as you may have learned in grade school. These outbreaks are often due to contaminated seed, according to Trevor V. Suslow, Department of Vegetable Crops, University of California Davis, and Linda J. Harris, Department of Food Science and Technology. They recommend taking special safety precautions when growing alfalfa sprouts in your home.

Things You'll Need

  • Hydrogen peroxide, 3 percent
  • Sauce pan
  • Candy thermometer
  • Alfalfa seeds
  • Small mesh strainer
  • Bowl
  • Quart jar
  • Cheesecloth
  • Rubber band
  • Cookie sheet
  • Pour 3 inches of hydrogen peroxide into the sauce pan. Heat the hydrogen peroxide to 140 degrees Fahrenheit, using the candy thermometer to monitor the temperature.

  • Place 2 tbsp. of alfalfa seeds in the mesh strainer and submerge the seeds in the hydrogen peroxide. Shake the strainer every minute for 5 minutes. Remove the strainer, and rinse the seeds with clean water for 1 minute.

  • Empty the seeds into the bowl and cover with water. The water should rise to an inch or more above the seeds. Skim off any floating debris. Let the seeds soak overnight.

  • Prepare a solution of 3 tbsp. bleach to 1 quart water. Soak the quart jar in this solution for at least five minutes. Rinse with clean water.

  • Pour the seeds and water into the quart jar. Place a piece of cheesecloth over the jar and secure it with the rubber band. Pour the water out through the cheesecloth.

  • Roll the jar on a counter to make the seeds stick to the sides of the jar.

  • Set the jar in a well-lit place, out of direct sunlight.

  • Rinse the seeds in the morning and the evening by adding water through the cheesecloth, swirling the seeds around, then pouring out the water. Don't remove the cheesecloth.

  • Continue in this manner until the sprouts are 1 to 2 inches long, usually four to six days.

  • Remove the cheesecloth and spread the sprouts out on the cookie sheet. Place the cookie sheets in the sun for 15 minutes. This helps the small leaves on the sprouts to turn green.

Tips & Warnings

  • Children, pregnant women, elderly and those with weakened immune systems should not eat raw sprouts.
  • Make sure your sprouts are certified pathogen-free. Note that organic does not mean pathogen-free.

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  • Photo Credit super sprouts! image by Shirley Hirst from
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