For many of us, winter’s a pretty bleak time of year. If the garden’s not under snow, it’s being battered by wind or hammered by heavy rains. When the weather’s unpleasant outside, it’s time to head inside where we can grow all manner of greens and sprouting seeds. Mung beans, also known as bean sprouts, are exceptionally nutritious and take just five days – yes five days! – to grow.
Mung Bean Sprouts
The humble mung bean is a wondrous thing. Popular in many Asian cuisines or as a filling in sandwiches, spring rolls or wraps, the sprouted beans are full of health-giving nutrients, protein and fibre. They’re easy to grow too, making them the ultimate convenience food!
Start by thoroughly rinsing half a cup (80g) of mung beans. Place them into a bowl and cover with water. Leave to soak overnight or for at least 12 hours.
The next morning the beans will have swollen significantly. Thoroughly wash an empty juice carton with soapy water and rinse. Only use juice cartons, not anything that has contained dairy or non-acidic contents. The carton will be your sprouting unit, helping to keep the beans in the dark and encouraging a crisper, whiter sprout.
Cut nicks into the top corners of the carton. The holes should be big enough to enable water to drain out without letting the beans escape. They will also help the growing sprouts to breathe.
Drain the soaked beans then pour them into the carton using a funnel. Fill with lukewarm water and screw on the lid. Now tip the carton upside down to drain the water out through the holes. This simple washing and draining process should be repeated twice a day, in the morning and in the evening.
Though you won’t be able to see it, the next day all of the beans will have sprouted. Repeat the washing and draining process, once in the morning, then again in the evening.
Another day on and the sprouts are coming along beautifully. They could be eaten at this stage, but leave it another day and you’ll have perfect sprouts.
Your bean sprouts are now ready to enjoy! Cut the carton open to reveal the crisp white sprouts.
Rinsing Mung Bean Sprouts
Before eating the sprouts you’ll need to skim off the bean husks. Place the sprouts into a large mixing bowl and fill with water. Most of the husks will float to the surface. Carefully comb them to one side then fish them out. Some of the husks will have sunk to the bottom. Remove the cleaned bean sprouts to leave these husks behind in the bottom of the bowl. Bean sprouts should keep for three days in the refrigerator, after which you'll need to discard any that haven't been eaten.
Homegrown bean sprouts are extra crunchy, and taste great stir-fried with finely chopped garlic, ginger, a little soy sauce and a splash of sesame seed oil. Just delicious!
Please do share your own recipes and bean sprout-growing tips below. Bon appetit!