While mung beans and alfalfa steal the spotlight in the sprouting world, fenugreek is not to be overlooked. Fenugreek (Trigonella foenum-graecum), also known as methi, is a widespread plant harvested as a herb and seed in India and throughout the Middle East. Sprouting fenugreek allows you to benefit from its nutritional profile that’s rich in fiber, iron, and protein. It’s also tasty and easy to incorporate into a number of dishes.
With its maple-scented seeds and aromatic leaves, fenugreek has a slightly bitter-sweet flavor which makes it a great addition to curries. As a sprout, fenugreek has a similar “bitterness” as celery, with a pleasantly sweet aftertaste.
Just writing about fenugreek has got me hungry. Who said sprouts are boring?
Health benefits of fenugreek
Fenugreek is a type of legume which is part of the Fabaceae family. This family includes soybeans, green peas, and peanuts. Its seeds are used as a spice, its leaves as a herb, and it’s also grown as a leafy vegetable. And of course the seeds can be sprouted.
The nutritional profile of fenugreek seeds is a rich source of vitamins and nutrients, particularly fiber and protein. It also contains manganese, potassium, vitamins B6 and C, calcium, magnesium, and zinc.
High in protein, yet low in fat, fenugreek is great as part of a healthy, low-fat diet. One tablespoon of fenugreek seeds has 36 calories:
- Protein – 2.6 grams (5 percent DV)
- Fat – 0.7 grams (1 percent DV)
- Carbs – 6.5 grams (2 percent DV)
- Fiber – 2.7 grams (10 percent DV)
- Sugar – 0 grams (0 percent DV)
- Sodium – 7.4 milligrams (0 percent DV)
- Calcium – 20 milligrams (2 percent DV)
Fenugreek is used in many medical applications including:
- Managing diabetes: Fenugreek seeds may help to lower blood sugar levels in diabetics.
- Soothing menstrual cramps: Helps to reduce menstrual pain in women.
- Improving sex drive: Fenugreek seed extract is used to improve or stimulate those with low sex drives.
Why sprout fenugreek seeds?
The process of sprouting unlocks the many vitamins and nutrients that are inside the seeds. This enables our bodies to access and absorb more of the healthy good stuff. Sprouts typically have higher levels of nutrients than the fully matured version from the same plant.
In the case of sprouting fenugreek, there’s more fiber in the sprouts than the seeds. And we could all use a bit more fiber in our diet, am I right?
A guide to sprouting fenugreek
Fenugreek seeds are quick to sprout. Enjoy your sprouted fenugreek seeds in 2-6 days.
The seeds are golden brown and smell of maple syrup (yum!). The sprouts turn a pale green when exposed to sunlight.
We recommend buying fenugreek sprouting seeds from a reputable seed supplier. Sprouting seeds purchased from a good supplier are free of harmful pathogens such as E. coli and salmonella. You’ll also get a better harvest if you’re sprouting from a batch of good seeds.
- Your choice of a sprouter. This can be something simple like a one-quart glass mason jar with a permeable lid (cheesecloth or mesh), or your choice of a commercial sprouter.
- Fenugreek seeds
- Clean water
Please note: Use these instructions as a general guideline only. For best results, adhere to the instructions on your specific seed packets.
Prior to soaking, we like to give seeds a quick rinse under cool water to remove any debris.
Measure out roughly 2 tablespoons per quart jar (32 ounces), or sprouter.
Soak fenugreek seeds in clean, lukewarm water overnight, or for 8-12 hours. Soaking is an important step that kick-starts the entire sprouting process by coaxing a dormant seed to life.
With sprouting fenugreek, it’s important that the quality of water you’re using on your sprouts is of drinking quality. Depending on your local water source, tap water may be perfectly fine. Others with especially hard water may need to use filtered water to remove impurities.
Rinsing and draining
Once your seeds have soaked, you can start the rinsing and draining process. Keep your sprouts in a cool place away from direct sunlight.
Rinse your fenugreek seeds 2-3 times a day, or every 8-12 hours. Make rinsing your sprouts part of your morning and evening ritual, and you should have sprouting success!
Rinse your seeds with cool water under a running tap, or a nozzle sprayer. Tip your jar or sprouter so that all sprouts get their fair share of water. Ensure the sprouts get a good soaking.
Rinsing your sprouts not only hydrates, it also keeps them clean by infusing fresh oxygen, and washing away any harmful bacteria and metabolic waste.
Draining is an equally important step as excess sitting water may lead to mold growth in sprouts.
During the draining and rinsing cycle, it’s important to keep a relatively stable room temperature. Aim to keep room temperature at around 70 degrees Fahrenheit (21 degrees Celsius).
Tip: If your room temperature is too hot or too humid, this may also lead to mold growth, or smelly sprouts. To offset the hotter temperature, rinse with cooler water, and rinse more frequently.
“Greening” or light exposure
After 2-3 days, or when the sprouts have developed their first green leaves, you can move them into the sunlight. The sunlight helps to give them a greener appearance.
If you’re sprouting fenugreek in a jar, you may notice that the sprouts in the middle are more yellow. This is totally normal, and the sprouts are perfectly edible.
How to harvest fenugreek sprouts
Like many other homegrown sprouted seeds, harvest fenugreek according to your own taste preferences. There’s really no right or wrong, but most people prefer to harvest when most of the leaves are green.
You can harvest fenugreek anywhere from 2-6 days.
To harvest, you’ll need to give it a final rinse before storing or eating.
- A colander
- A clean basin
- Clean water
- A perforated plastic bag, or storage container with air holes
Fill a clean basin with clean, cool water. Take your sprouted fenugreek seeds by the handful and gently swirl in the water. This helps loosen any hulls plus other debris. The hulls float to the surface of the water.
Removing the hulls is optional. While the hulls are edible, many people don’t like their chewiness.
Once all the sprouts are clean, place in a colander and allow it to drain completely before refrigerating. For best results, we like to place the colander in a large bowl, and tip it at different angles until all the water is completely drained.
Excess water shortens the shelf life of sprouts, so be sure to thoroughly dry before storing. Store in either a perforated plastic bag (one with puncture holes), or a storage container with air holes.
The shelf life of homegrown sprouts: Homegrown sprouts may keep up to 1 week in the fridge, but best used within 2-3 days.
Fenugreek sprout safety
Before we dive into how to use and eat fenugreek sprouts, let’s first go over a few sprout safety tips.
Fenugreek in particular should be avoided by pregnant women as it may cause uterine contractions.
While raw sprouts are typically considered safe for most people, certain people should avoid eating raw sprouts to be on the safe side. This includes:
- Pregnant or breastfeeding women
- Those with compromised immune systems
- Very young children
To avoid possible foodborne illnesses in sprouts, try cooking them first.
How do you eat fenugreek sprouts?
So now that you’ve gone through the work of growing sprouts, how exactly do you eat fenugreek sprouts?
The slightly bittersweet flavor of fenugreek sprouts makes it a great addition to many fresh and healthy dishes. Try using fenugreek sprouts in:
- Salads as a base or garnish
- Sprinkling on soups or stews
- Stir fry
Need some inspiration? Check out these fenugreek sprouts recipes.
Sprouted Fenugreek Salad
This healthy and easy-peasy salad calls for cilantro, chilies, and tamarind to spice up fenugreek sprouts (via Food Pleasure and Health).
Fenugreek/Methi Sprouts Soup
A flavorful tomato-based soup with lightly cooked fenugreek sprouts is perfect for lunch (via Simple Indian Recipes).
Methi Dana Ki Subzi (Stir fried Fenugreek Sprouts)
Serve this traditional spicy dish with roti or rice (via Maayeka).