I love to have fresh veggies at the house at all time, and when possible I love to be able to grow them. If you live in cold environments, it can be hard to grow produce without a greenhouse or expensive indoor lights. Mung bean sprouts are the easiest and cheapest thing to grow no matter where you live.
What's crazy is how expensive (and usually subpar) store bought bean sprouts are when they're so cheap and easy to grow at home.
Basic Guidelines for Bean Sprouts
- Soak - 8-12 hours
Bean sprouts start with dry mung beans. In order to start the sprouting process you need to soak them for at least 8 hours.
- Rinse - 2-3 times a day
Every day, rinse your seeds a minimum of 2 times, as much as three times. This keeps them hydrated and keeps them fully saturated to maximize growth.
- Harvest - 2-5 days
After the initial soak, the mung beans are ready to eat as a sprouted product. In order to get bean sprouts like at the grocery store, growth times will depend on your environment and the quality of the beans. I recommend tasting after each rinse to determine when they're done.
- Yield - 2:1 ratio
When deciding how many raw beans to sprout, know that on average, for each pound of dry beans, you will get 2 pounds of sprouted beans.
What are Mung Beans and Why Should I Sprout Them?
Mung beans are plant species in the legume family, similar to beans and lentils and can be used interchangeably for a lot of recipes. They are slightly sweeter than lentils.
Mung beans are different than a lot of different legumes because they're one of the most common varieties to sprout. If you see bean sprouts on any menu, most of the time they have been grown from mung beans.
Traditionally, mung bean sprouts are grown and cultivated in East Asia - most commonly India.
Benefits of Sprouted Foods
Sprouted grains and seeds are mid way through the germinating process. Harvard Health Blog claims that:
"This germinating process breaks down some of the starch, which makes the percentage of nutrients higher. It also breaks down phytate, a form of phytic acid that normally decreases absorption of vitamins and minerals in the body. So sprouted grains have more available nutrients than mature grains".
They continue that "those nutrients include folate, iron, vitamin C, zinc, magnesium, and protein."
There's also evidence that sprouted foods are higher in fibre and may help with blood pressure, digestion and regulating blood sugar (source).
Personally, I like bean sprouts because they're high in water content, are crispy and add a delicious fresh crunch to meals like pho, pad thai and stir fries. It's just a bonus that they're super nutritious and cheap to make.
Yes! Sprouts are safe to eat raw. They are a sprouted food grown in warm to room temperature environments so just handle them with clean hands and avoid cross contamination. As always use your senses to determine if a food is past prime. Lots of food is wasted because people are too worried about food safety. Your eyes, nose and mouth have an incredible ability to detect spoiled food.
After the sprouting process, I like to wrap the bean sprouts in a damp paper towel and store them in either a food storage container or a large freezer ziplock bag. They usually store well for 3-5 days.
Yes, but they won't be as firm when they're thawed. The best option is to continually grow small batches instead of growing large batches. If you do find yourself in a position where you need to freeze them, they maintain their texture best if you blanch them before freezing.
Yes, but I prefer this method. If you're looking for a guide to mason sprout growing, this is a thorough guide from Serious Eats. I prefer this method for thin sprouts like broccoli or alfalfa sprouts.
As long as they're still firm and aren't slimy or smelly, they are safe to eat. When sprouts are exposed to too much light or oxygen, they may brown or turn slightly pink. Use your senses to determine if they're normal discolouration or if they're unsafe. If you're unsure, it's safer to not eat them or at least cook them prior to eating.
Indoors is the easiest and most consistent to grow bean sprouts. You can control the environment the best. Ideally, you want them to avoid light more than necessary. Keep in mind if you don't use a heater or AC, your house temperature may change the time it takes the sprouts to grow.
The "shell", also known as the hull, on bean sprouts are safe to eat. If you'd like to remove them for aesthetic or texture preferences you are more than welcome to. To remove them, run them under water and they should fall off by themselves.
If you're looking for supermarket looking bean sprouts, you need to weigh down the sprouts as they grow. For the first 2-3 days, use a plate. After the third day, place a book on top of the sprouts to help them grow thicker.
How to Grow Mung Bean Sprouts
- Colander or Steamer Basket
- Cheesecloth or Clean Dish Towel
- ¼ cup Dry Mung Beans see notes
- Measure your dry beans in your sprouting vessel. The beans expand, so be sure to not fill the vessel more than ¾, ideally even ½ full so the sprouts have room to grow.
- Take your measured mung beans and soak them in clean water for 8-12 hours, until the beans start to sprout. They should look like this.
- Line your soaking vessel (colander in a bowl or a steamer basket) with cheesecloth or a clean linen. Place the beans in the cloth and cover them fully. Soak the cheesecloth in water so the beans remain damp for the sprouting process.
- Soak the cheesecloth 2-3 times a day every day. Taste the sprouts at each rinse to determine when you want to harvest - I usually harvest after 3-5 days as I like long and wide sprouts.
- Store in the fridge in a storage container wrapped in a damp paper towel for 3-5 days or until they start to wilt or brown.
- *Optional - you can remove the green bean skins (the bran) for a more aesthetic sprout that you would find at a grocery store. I did this for the end product photo for this recipe but you 100% can eat the brans. They have almost no taste.
- When choosing how many dry beans to put in your sprouting vessel, place them flat in the vessel and aim for them to take up no more than ½ - ¾ of the entire vessel. The sprouts expand as they grow so you don't want to overcrowd them.
- The sprouts can be eaten the very first day after sprouting if you just want to incorporate more sprouted foods into your diet. I prefer them after about 3-5 days of growing. The best way to test when they're ready is to taste a sprout after each watering. You know how you like your sprouts.
- You do not need to remove the skins (brans) from mung bean sprouts. They're perfectly edible but supermarkets remove them for aesthetic reasons.
- The nutritional information is calculate for the entire batch of bean sprouts. Mung bean sprouts are very low in calories.
- If you want extra thick/fat mung bean sprouts, they need to be weighed down during the growing process. For the first 2-3 days, weigh them down with a plate only, and after that, place a book on top of the plate.