Bean sprouts are the tender, edible shoots of certain bean plants that result in the germination process. The nutrients in harvested, ripe vegetables progressively decrease as they sit, while bean sprouts retain their nutritional value until they're consumed. Bean sprouts are a rich source of amino acids, vitamins and minerals, and also have a good amount of fiber. They contain all types of vitamins (A, B, C, D, E and K), folate, and are an excellent source of iron, potassium, calcium, phosphorous, magnesium, and zinc. Other nutritional benefits vary, depending on the type of sprout. Mung bean sprouts contain estrogen-like phytochemicals, called isoflavones, which are responsible for some of the many healthy proprieties of these sprouts.
Okay, enough about nutrition… let's talk taste. Bean sprouts offer a delicious, fresh crunch to salads, stir-fries, spring rolls, and other dishes. Where do you buy mung beans? I purchase mine in the bulk food section of my local farmer's market. But you can also find them on line. (It's much cheaper to buy them at a farmer's market!) You can buy all kinds of fancy sprouting trays and equipment, but none of that is necessary. Later this week, I'll offer a recipe for a chicken stir-fry, but today I want to focus on explaining how to grow your own sprouts. The process is very easy and kids (or grandkids) will love seeing the beans sprout and grow, so get them involved. Let's get started.
1/3 cup of mung beans
1 quart Mason jar with metal ring (minus the lid)
1 circle of mesh (I cut a circle of mesh from a plastic mesh onion bag)
1. Rinse the mung beans until the water runs clear.
2. Put the beans in the jar and cover with 1 cup of cool water. Put the plastic mesh over the jar opening and screw on the metal ring which will hold the mesh in place (see picture). Place the jar on the counter in the darkest part of the kitchen and soak overnight.
3. Drain the beans and rinse with cool, fresh water. Drain all the water from the jar and place the jar on its side on the counter (remember, not in direct sunlight).
4. Repeat step 3 every morning and evening (approximately every 12 hours). Watch the beans sprout and grow. You can start using your bean sprouts as soon as they're large enough, around day 4 or 5, depending on the temperature and lighting in your kitchen. At the end of day 5, move any uneaten sprouts to the refrigerator. They'll keep for at least a week.
Have you ever grown your own food? What was your favorite food-growing experience?