Chia seeds are so tiny yet so nutritious with soluble fiber, antioxidants, polyunsaturated fat, micronutrients, minerals, protein, and bioactive compounds. I love chia seeds as I can make smoother smoothies, healthier salads, and chia gel for yummy desserts. At the same time, you can also easily sprout them. Let’s see how!
There are 7 easy ways to sprout chia seeds:
- Covered Moisture Method
- Terra Cotta Tray Method
- Spray and Tray Method
- Chia Pet Method
- Wide-Mouth Jar Method
- Jiffy Pot Method
- Paper Towel Method
- Nylon or Linen Method
This article summarizes other ways (methods) and popular whys (reasons) you’d love sprouting chia seeds.
Sources say that the Mayan word for “strength” is chia. The seeds of the chia plant were said to give Incas, Aztecs, and Mayans the stamina, energy, and endurance for their messengers to run long distances as well as for their warriors to fight in battles.
Before you eat chia seeds, soak them in water so that they can expand and turn gel-like (one guy didn’t do this and ended up needing medical intervention). Or you can ground the seeds into flour like the ancient Mayans did.
However, for most people today, sprouting the seeds is a popular method. Why is that?
Your stomach will find it easier to digest seeds that start sprouting compared to dry seeds. In the process of sprouting, the starch in chia seeds becomes sugars while the proteins turn into amino acids. At the same time, the seeds also contain vitamins A, C, and enzymes.
Chia seeds sprouts are also a natural source of linoleic acid that strengthens hormones, as well as linolenic acid that prevents atherosclerosis (hardening of blood vessels). They also lower cholesterol, and high blood pressure.
As I mentioned, sprouting chia seeds indoors is as easy as one-two-three. If you haven’t tried sprouting chia seeds before, here are the four things you need:
- Seeds: Don’t soak the chia seeds before you sprout them.
- Porous surface: To root the sprouts, sprinkle the seeds on a moist and porous surface (sprouting starts in about 24 hours).
- Sunlight: Let the sprouts grow in indirect sunlight.
- Moisture: Use a bottle of water spray to keep the growing sprouts moist; check at least twice a day to keep the porous surface wet.
- Harvesting: You can harvest your chia seeds in about 10 days – or even less – because chia seeds take from 4 up to 7 days to complete the sprouting process. (This depends on the temperature).
Can you sprout chia seeds from the supermarket?
You can sprout chia seeds from a grocery or health food store, which are completely organic and usually fresher than chia-pet seeds. I grow a decently sized plant (in winter, indoor) from chia seeds. It survived almost half a year in a very tiny pot! These plants are quite resilient indeed.
This method only needs a tray, a cover, and some water. Here’s the step by step process:
- Clean a shallow container, such as an aluminum paper plate or plastic tray.
- Pour one spoonful of chia seeds (such as this one on Amazon) and one spoonful of water on the tray or container. (Any equal amounts of seeds and water will do.)
- After about 60 minutes, tilt the tray to drain the water. Now your chia seeds are moist.
- Cover the tray to trap the moisture.
- In about 4 days, the chia seeds should begin to sprout.
- When the sprouts are about ¼ inch long (6.35 millimeters), expose them to direct sunlight so that they can turn green.
Terra cotta is brownish-orange or brownish-red clay that is formed and hardened into shapes such as pots, plates, trays, or figures in human or animal forms. The porous surface wicks water and provides moisture for chia seeds to sprout.
Here what you need to do for successful sprouting with the terra-cotta tray method:
- Spread a thin layer of chia seeds on a terra cotta dish or tray or a shallow container.
- Pour ¼ inch of water on a larger plate (not terra cotta).
- Carefully place the dish of chia seeds on the larger plate of water. Don’t let the water get into the dish of seeds.
- Cover the two plates to keep evaporating water inside.
- The terra cotta dish will absorb water and provide just the right moisture for the chia seeds to sprout.
3. The Tray and Spray Method
This method of sprouting chia seeds requires you to spray water instead of wicking water through a clay surface.
- Sprinkle a thin layer of chia seeds on a terra cotta dish.
- Spray the seeds with water every day, once in the morning and once in the evening.
- Expose the seeds to indirect sunlight.
- The sprouts will begin to grow between 7 and 10 days.
PRO TIP: So that you don’t have to spray so often, use a plastic or glass cover (cloche or bell jar) to keep the moisture longer. This is a widely known technique to increase the germination rate and maintain the moisture needed.
Chia seeds can easily grow on any surface that absorbs water and allows rootlets to grow. For instance, cloth, sponge, paper, clay, are porous, so they’re perfect for sprouting chia seeds.
Here the do easy steps to deploy this technique:
- Fill a small dish, plate, or tray with 1/4 cup of water.
- Soak the planter in a container of water for 1 hour.
- Moisten 2 teaspoons of chia seeds for 1 hour or until it turns into a gel.
- Cover the moist terra cotta planter with the chia gel.
- Use a spatula or small knife to spread chia seeds on the grooves of the planter
- Add water to the dish or tray to keep it from drying out.
- The seeds should sprout in 3 to 5 days.
- If your indoor air is dry (has low moisture), cover the chia planter with a plastic bag over to keep the air humid around the seeds.
- Remove the bag after most of the chia seeds have sprouted
- Position the chia sprouts in a location with indirect sunlight.
5. The Wide-Mouth Jar Method
One simple method of sprouting chia seeds is to use a jar with a wide mouth where a cheesecloth cover can be secured with a rubber band.
- Pour 2 to 4 tablespoons of chia seeds into the jar.
- Add water (3 times the quantity of seeds) and soak overnight (about 6 to 12 hours).
- Drain the water.
- Fill the jar with fresh water, and gently swirl the jar to rinse the sprouts.
- Drain all the water.
- Position the jar under indirect sunlight.
- Rinse and drain the sprouts at least twice a day (more often in hot weather) for about 7 days or until the sprouts are as long as you want them to be.
PRO TIP: After harvesting the sprouts, wash and rinse to remove seeds and seed coats. Serve raw or cook them. If you have to preserve them, drain well before you refrigerate. Use the sprouts within 10 days.
One convenient way to sprout chia seed is to use a mason jar.
This method uses a peat strip (such as this one on Amazon) or a jiffy pot. You can try a 3-inch jiffy pot or a slightly larger one. The peat or wood fiber material of these organic pots can absorb water like a wick.
- Soak the jiffy pot in water.
- Pour about 1 cm of water in a dish, plate, or tray.
- Roll the wet jiffy pot in the seeds until it is covered with seeds.
- Place the jiffy pot upside down in the dish.
- Refill the dish with water every day to keep the water level at 1 cm.
- The seeds should sprout in a few days.
PRO TIP: The chia seeds will turn sticky and gel-like when they absorb water. Don’t touch them, or else they will stick to your finger.
7. The Paper Towel Method
Another method of sprouting chia seeds uses 2 paper towels, a dish, and some water.
- Fold 2 sheets of paper towel.
- Place the folded paper towels into the bottom of a shallow dish or tray.
- Add water until the paper towel is thoroughly moist.
- Sprinkle the chia seeds over the moistened paper towel.
- Keep the paper towel moist by spraying or adding water.
- When the seeds begin to sprout, expose them to indirect sunlight.
This method is strongly recommended by a number of our gardener friends who grow chia sprouts all year round, even in winter. They agree that this is the fastest way to sprout chia seeds.
- Use a large dinner plate, dish, or tray.
- Lay a nylon stocking or linen cloth on the plate.
- Spray water onto the cloth or nylon.
- Add one layer of chia seeds to the cloth. Make sure that the seeds are evenly spread and spaced out so they can spread while growing.
- Spray a fine mist of water on the seeds.
- Cover the dish with a clear bowl of glass or plastic.
- Expose the covered dish to indirect sunlight.
- Spray at least twice a day to keep the seeds moist, but avoid any standing water.
- The chia seeds should sprout in 3 days or less.
For extra crunch and health benefits, you can add chia sprouts to a salad, sandwich, pizza, soup, or a wrap. At the same time, the green chlorophyll increases your body’s oxygen absorption, which is great for your heart, lungs, and brain.
Chia sprouts can be blended into smoothies or used in vegan puddings. They can replace eggs in a favorite dish, or used as a thickener for dressings and sauces.
People around the world eat chia seeds raw, soaked in a favorite juice, added to hot porridge, cold pudding, or baked goodies. Chefs sprinkle them on yogurt, cereal, tall-glass drinks, rice, or vegetarian dishes.
Cooks love the ability of chia sprouts to absorb fat and water, perfect as egg substitutes in recipes or for thickening sauces and dressings.
If you don’t want to go through the process of sprouting chia seeds, here’s great news: you don’t have to. All you have to do is soak the seeds in water, milk, fruit juice – any liquid will do – until the seeds turn into gel.
Avant-garde restaurants mix chia gel for puddings, egg flans, and sorbets. For DIY foodies, here are 2 easy recipes.
Chia sprouts have a mild, nutty taste – rather bland with a slight touch of bitter. You can add them to almost any dish, drink, sauce, appetizer, or salad. No need to grind, chop, or slice; just wash off any unsprouted seeds and seed coats, and they’re ready to serve.
The ingredients are:
- Chia seeds
- Dry fruits such as cashews, almonds, raisins, coconut, and so on
- Seasonal fruits such as bananas, apples, mangos, and the like.
- Honey or sweetener (optional)
Here’s how you do it (easy-peasy):
- In a glass take, soak ½ cup of chia seeds in 3 cups (or more) of milk. The seeds will swell in 8-10 hours or overnight.
- Mix in two spoons of honey or sugar.
- Add chopped or sliced fresh fruits.
- Garnish with dry fruits and serve chilled.
You can make chia pudding with only three ingredients and in only three steps. This video shows how. The 3 ingredients are:
- Chia seeds: 2 tablespoons
- Milk (any): 1/2 cup
- Sweetener (optional): 1 teaspoon (honey, brown sugar, etc.)
The 3 steps are:
- Pour all the ingredients in a jar, mix until everything looks smooth.
- Cover the jar and refrigerate overnight (about 2 hours will do if you’re in a hurry).
- Top with your favorite fruit. Enjoy.
PRO TIP: To harvest the sprouts, cut just above the roots, then wash and serve raw as a salad or in a sandwich. You can also add them to soup or to garnish a meat dish.
Research indicators that chia seeds are also rich sources of boron, calcium, and magnesium – the nutrients that make strong bones and teeth. You can buy FDA-approved, 100 percent natural chia seeds. Sprouting them means you can enjoy green sprouts with no additives or preservatives.
PRO TIP: One ounce of chia seeds includes 11 grams of fiber; 42% of the USDA daily recommended value. So, if you’re used to low-fiber food, eat small portions of chia.
Chia seeds are tiny but carry at least seven reasons why.
- They’re easy to grow, harvest, serve, cook and consume.
- It’s easier to digest chia sprouts because seeds turn into sugars and proteins.
- It’s easy to sprout chia seeds indoors. All they need is a porous growing surface where they can take root, some moisture, and indirect sunlight.
- People love chia seeds: they’re cheap, they provide indoors with natural greens, they’re full of vitamins, minerals, nutrients, protein, antioxidants, and they help prevent many disorders and diseases.
- Chia sprouts turn green when exposed to indirect sunlight. The leaves and stems are too tender for direct sunlight.
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“Sprout House” by the University of Maryland Extension (UMD Extension)
“How To Sprout Chia Seeds” in Cultures for Health