A lot of people think they know what sprouts taste like, but that's only because they've been consuming store-bought sprouts, which have little resemblance to homegrown sprouts. The ones grown at home, just like many other foods, are far more delicious. But in order to grow your own sprouts, you have to use a sprouting device or machine, and there's a lot of talk on the internet about which sprouting methods are the best. Should you use a sprouting bag -- a cloth sack that you simply put seeds into and then soak with water? Should you use a sprouting tray -- a simple tray with tiny holes in the bottom and a small water plate underneath? Should you use a Freshlife Sprouter -- a cylindrical-shaped sprouting machine that has an automatic timer? Or should you turn to the EasyGreen Automatic Sprouter -- a larger and more expensive machine that automates the growing of five different kinds of sprout crops at the same time? Which of these methods is best? I will attempt to answer that in this comparison review.
The first thing to keep in mind is that there are different costs associated with these different sprouting technologies. If you're on a very tight budget, then a sprouting bag or a sprouting tray is the way to go. They are both very low cost -- maybe $10 to $15 -- and there are no moving parts. However, they do require a lot of attention and time. You can't just put seeds in a sprouting bag, dip the bag in water one time and then forget about the seeds. You have to take care of the seeds by re-soaking them in the sprouting bag on a regular basis. If you are using a sprouting tray, you have to watch the sprouts to make sure they don't get mold or fungus, and removing the sprouts from the tray can be a bit of a hassle because the roots usually grow through the holes in order to get to the water at the bottom.
Even though low-cost sprouting devices may seem inexpensive at first, my experience is that they will cost you more in time than they are worth in savings. So, for the last couple of years I have been using higher-end sprouting machines. I used the Freshlife Sprouter for quite a while, but I found that it suffers from a major design flaw. The same water gets recirculated through the pump over and over, and since sprout water begins to turn dark and murky very quickly, the water in the Freshlife Sprouter gets rather cloudy in just one or two days. So you have to manually change the water, and it turns out that changing the water with the Freshlife Sprouter is not as easy as it sounds. I had a Freshlife unit that worked well for a while, but the pump failed on the unit. I disassembled the pump, cleaned it out, reassembled it and even applied some plant-based lubricants to the moving parts. It didn't work, so I was left with a useless sprouting machine.
It functions just as promised. You pour water into a reservoir, and it has a misting unit that distributes the water as a mist to the growing chamber. This mist forms droplets on the roof of the chamber, and those droplets fall down onto the sprouts like rain. Then that water drains out and exits through a tube that I empty into a bucket, so the water never recirculates back into the sprouts. While this approach does use more water than the Freshlife sprouting machine, it's really not as much water as you would think -- certainly far less than a gallon a day, and that's sufficient to grow five different kinds of sprouts at the same time.
The other thing I like about this unit is that it appears to be quite sturdy and has no plumbing. There's just one moving part -- the water mister -- and in time that will probably fail, but it doesn't have the complexity of a water pump, so I expect it to last a lot longer than the pump on the Freshlife Sprouter. Some people on the internet have commented that the EasyGreen Automatic Sprouter looks to them like it was cheaply made. I didn't find the unit to be cheaply made at all. The sliding door from which you access your sprouts is just a piece of polycarbonate, wedged into a slot that's been cut into the top of the unit. It's not elegant in any way whatsoever, but it does get the job done, so I can't complain about it. The rest of the unit seems solid enough for me.
The EasyGreen Automatic Sprouter functions on an external timing device. It ships with an external clock that you plug into a wall outlet. This timing device provides electricity to the water-misting unit according to a schedule you set. To make the unit more elegant, the timing could have been put into the unit itself, but I don't see any long-term problem with having the unit on the outside of the machine. I did replace the wall-mounted timer with my own high-end greenhouse timer, but only because it allows me to set more precise intervals and misting durations. Right now I have my unit misting for about 10 minutes every three hours, and that seems to provide more than enough water to grow all the sprouts I need.
So, although it is the most expensive, I like the EasyGreen Automatic Sprouter unit the best for simplicity of use and ease of maintenance. You might spend $100 for the Freshlife sprouter, but I would say go ahead and spend another $100 or more and go for the EasyGreen sprouter. If you are on a tight budget and can't afford that, your best bets are the sprout bags or trays -- you can buy those from the Sproutman -- but be warned that they will require a lot of extra attention. Be sure to use drops of hydrogen peroxide in your sprout water to eliminate the growth of fungus, mold and bacteria in your sprouts. It works extremely well.
The EasyGreen Automatic Sprouter is found at EasyGreen.com
The FreshLife Sprouter is found at FreshLifeSprouter.com
No matter which system you use, remember that you can easily grow the following: