Bean Sprouts. I love them. While they’re mostly used in Asian cuisine, given their nutritional value I would like to advocate for their consumption in all cuisines including homemade soups and salads. Mung Bean Sprouts are power packed with pure forms of vitamins A, B, C, and E, in addition to an assortment of minerals including Calcium, Iron, and Potassium. One cup of mung bean sprouts contains only approximately 30 calories, 3 grams of protein, only 6 carbohydrates, and only .2 grams of fat. Sprouts also contain a high source of fiber, are easily digestible and contain a high concentration of enzymes facilitating the digestive process. Mung bean sprouts have a delightful crunch and mild flavor, which makes for an enjoyable snack experience, and are a welcome addition to many meals as an accompaniment or ingredient. While mung bean sprouts are available year round in the grocery store, it’s less expensive to grow them yourself!!
Growing sprouts in a jar
The easiest method is to grow sprouts in a glass canning jar. I have a collection of antique blue ball mason jars that I like to use. Any size jar will do. Sprouts need fresh air, cover the top of the jar with muslin, cheese cloth or nylon mesh screen and secure with a rubber band.
Step One: Soaking
For a quart-sized jar, put 1 ½ to 2 tablespoons of small seeds (up to 1 cup if using larger seeds like green peas or garbanzo) in the sprouting jar. Cover top of jar with cloth or sprouting lid and rinse the seeds in warm (not hot) water. Drain and refill so that water is about an inch above the seeds. Let the seeds soak 8-12 hours (overnight). Protect from light by covering with a dish towel or placing in a cupboard.
Step Two: Rinsing
Rinse 2 to 3 times per day for 2 to 3 days. After thoroughly draining the rinse water, lay the jar on its side to spread out the seeds. Do not expose to light. After 2 to 3 days the sprouts should be filling up the jar.
Step Three: Removing Hulls
After 2 to 3 days the sprouts will have thrown off their hulls. To remove the hulls, place the sprouts in a bowl and run cool water over them. Most of the hulls will either float to the top or sink to the bottom making them easy to remove. (Note: not all seeds have hulls.)
Step Four: Harvesting
Rinse sprouts in cool water and remove any remaining hulls. Drain in a colander but do not allow the sprouts to dry out. Place in an air-tight bag leaving room for air circulation. If your sprouts need to develop chlorophyll or carotene there is one final step. (The seed package directions should tell you whether greening is necessary.)
Step Five: Greening
Once the hulls are removed, place the sprouts back into the sprouting jar or into a clear plastic airtight bag. Put the sprouts in indirect sunlight. It takes about a day for the chlorophyll and carotenes to develop. Once the sprouts are ready rinse, drain, and eat, or refrigerate.
Sprouts will keep for about a week in the refrigerator if you rinse them once every day or two. Be sure to keep the sprouts from freezing as they are frost sensitive.
Seeds are easy to store. Put them an a glass jar with an air-tight lid and keep them in a cool, dark storage area. They will keep for a year or more. Now get to sprouting!