woman with handkerchief

Raising a Stink: Moving on from a Sprouting Gone Wrong

     “ . . . there was the rankest compound of villainous smell that ever offended nostril.” Falstaff, The Merry Wives of Windsor by William Shakespeare



First, a snip of dialogue:

“Eww! What stinks around here?”

“Is it that bad? I threw away something that didn’t . . . turn out right.”

“Where at?”

“In the kitchen.”

“What! You didn’t take it outside?”

“B-but I quadruple-bagged it and everything!”

(Groans, covered noses, scowls in my direction . . .)

“Okay, okay, I’m getting rid of it right now.”

All this rotten mess because I dug in to what seems to be taking root.

seeds etc
Budding potential.

Nuts, seeds, grains, beans. Touted as a healthy bunch, waiting around for small, green tails to poke out packs them with even more good-for-you properties . . . so I found out a few months ago as I got sucked into the sprouting world, poring over articles and how-tos with sparkles in my brown eyes.

Lets loose extra nutrients? Makes them easier to digest?

Count me in! My first sprouting project was underway!

In my giddy state, the possibility of a sprouting going wrong, and spawning some not so spiffy bacteria was barely a factor.

Restocked by a recent trip to the natural foods store, I chose buckwheat to initiate me into the fellowship of sprouters. (Didn’t forget about the lentils; bear with me).

Exhibiting watchdog vigilance, I checked for the slightest signs of transformation.

Then, they emerged . . .


Ta-da! Tails galore! Success!

Swept up in excitement, I attempted lentils next.

Yes, the infamous lentils.

For the buckwheat, I had soaked, drained, and placed the groats in a jar. No cheesecloth to cover the top? No problem. Have you peeled apart a paper towel to make two, super-thin paper towels? Well, I substituted one of those, draped it over the opening of the jar, and secured it with a rubber band. Spying a shadowy nook on the kitchen counter, I set it there and waited for the magic.

Worked like a charm.

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it–a saying commonly heard.

I didn’t listen.

not listen final
La-la-la-la-la . . .


Emboldened by reading various ways to sprout, I tried a new approach for the lentils.

I left them in a strainer. Over a bowl. Pot lid covering them. (Suffocating them.)

Days passed. No transformation. Uh-oh . . . the buckwheat didn’t take this long. Or exude this milky film. Or give off this funky smell.

Best to stay calm. Maybe sprouting lentils behave differently than sprouting buckwheat.

Nope. Out went my lump of smelly lentils.

Bringing you right back to where you came in.


Surely, you understand my heightened nervousness. Oh, I haven’t given up growing green shoots in that shadowy nook on the kitchen counter . . . albeit not without the accompanying thought that I’ll spot an icky fleck of fuzz. And, thankfully, my latest sprouting blunder with the wrong type of oats didn’t turn out to be a negative—my breakfast just got a healthy soaking.

I’ve even ventured back on the dreaded legume route: chickpeas and adzuki beans, to be exact. The chickpeas were troublemakers; I rinsed and drained for days, but they barely sprouted. (I wonder if overcrowding them in a small bowl might have had to do with that.) Both they and the adzuki beans had a sweetly sour smell (were they starting to ferment?), but as I’m a newbie at this sprouting stuff—and they didn’t reek to high heaven—I ate them. (Cooking before consuming, I assure you.)

No sickness. I’m still alive and kicking. I assume they turned out right.


Doubt lingers on; I keep on sprouting. Call me a glutton for punishment. Sprouting has a lot of healthy aspects, as pointed out; I enjoy roasting sprouted chickpeas; and I like the subtle, grassy flavor of buckwheat sprouts.

Plus, sprouting is plain fun.

Every time I peek at the process, I go into squeals of, “Awwwwww!” (A reaction my younger sister thinks completely strange.)

I can’t help it. Those cute, curly tails get to me every time.


On the side: During the writing of this post, a surprising coincidence developed.

Preparing to throw together something to eat, I reached back in the coldest part of the fridge to pull out a container of leftover green peas.

I was flabbergasted!

I had rinsed and used them a few times, never expecting this. No ventilation—some were frozen—but the proof was there in front of me.

Cute, curly tails! (Awwww!) Who’d have thunk it?

What’s more amazing is that they were originally from a can. Now I’m wondering if other canned legumes would work with just a rinse and a stay in the fridge . . .

Does anyone have an explanation for this “accidental sprouting”? Any advice or other sprouting stories you wish to share? Think sprouting a big waste of time? Let me know. I’m always interested in what you have to say!

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