Discover how to grow bean sprouts right in your kitchen. It will save you a bundle, plus it’s a great way to have some freshly harvested produce year round. Growing them at home is easy to do! (And a perfect activity for apartment dwellers who want to grow some of their own food.)
While sprouted mung beans are readily available at the grocery store, health food stores, or Asian markets, you can easily grow your own bean sprouts at home for use in delicious stir fries. Read on for the simple method and useful tips to grow these tiny sprouts in just a couple of days!
Originally published in January 2016; this post has been updated.
Contributed by Chris Dalziel
- Growing bean sprouts
- Why mung beans?
- Step by step: How to grow bean sprouts in a mason jar
- How long do they take to grow?
- How to store your bean sprouts
- Cooking with sprouts
- Are they safe to eat raw?
Changing the Way we Think
The grocery stores near me sell two kinds of sprouts. Alfalfa sprouts and mung bean sprouts. The alfalfa sprouts come in a plastic clam shell. The mung bean sprouts are tied together with two elastic bands and come in a plastic bag.
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In the summer when my garden is vibrant I don’t even look at the packages of sprouts, but in the winter, I’m tempted. Then I remember how easy it is to grow sprouts and I wonder, “Who buys those things?” Growing your own sprouts is economical, fast, and better for the environment.
Sprouting your beans is also better for you.
Mung beans are a good place for beginners to start. Learning how to grow bean sprouts will open the door to many tasty experiments.
How to Grow Bean Sprouts
You can sprout mung beans on your kitchen counter in as little as four days. While using a fancy automatic sprouter can make the job mindless, you don’t need any special equipment to be successful. You can start growing sprouts in a mason jar or a cotton bag.
Once you’ve learned how to grow bean sprouts, you’ll be able to sprout a variety of different beans, all winter long. They are crunchy, nutritious, and rich in antioxidants. (You might also want to try growing microgreens, like these sunflower sprouts.)
Why Sprout Mung Beans?
Mung beans are tiny green beans. It’s amazing how big the sprouts can grow when you consider how very tiny the seed is. Two tablespoons of seed is enough to grow four cups of sprouts. Sprouting mung beans results in a powerhouse of flavor and nutrition.
- Beans contain indigestible proteins that are difficult to digest. They need to be soaked and cooked in order to make them digestible.
- Unsprouted, they are starchy and contain lectins. Lectins are implicated in food allergies, auto-immune disease, and inflammation. But lectins are removed from food through sprouting or fermentation.
- When beans are sprouted they become as easy to digest as other vegetables. Raw bean sprouts increase in vitamins, antioxidants, and enzymes, too. [source]
Step by Step Guide: How to Grow Bean Sprouts in a Mason Jar
- You don’t need to buy special sprouting seeds to successfully sprout beans – but make sure your seeds are organic. Organic seeds will be chemical free, non-irradiated, and GMO-free. Y Check your local health food store for good quality mung beans.
- Wash a wide mouth mason jar or upcycled glass jar and rinse it well to remove any soap residue.
- Prepare a piece of window screen to fit your wide mouth mason jar. I use polyester window screen on my sprouting jars, drawing a circle on the screen using the mouth of the jar as my pattern. I cut around the circle. Then my sprouting screen is ready to use. If you don’t have spare window screen laying around your kitchen, you can order them online.
- Place two tablespoons of dried beans in a clean jar.
- Place the screened lid on the mason jar. Alternatively, attach several layers of cheesecloth atop the jar with an elastic band.
- Fill the jar ½ full with fresh water. Let the mung beans soak overnight.
- The next day, rinse the mung beans and invert the jar in a bowl to drain excess water. Once drained, return the jar to its upright position and let sit at room temperature.
- Rinse and drain the soaked beans in clean water twice a day for 4 to 6 days. The mung beans are ready to eat when the white sprout is at least 1.5 cm long. At this length the lectins in the bean are converted into digestible proteins. You can grow the sprouts longer if you wish. I like to grow them until they are about three inches long. It takes about five days for them to get that long.
- If the sprouts are exposed to direct sunlight while they are growing the leaf tip will turn green on days 5 and 6. If kept in a dark place, they will remain white, like store bought sprouts. I like my sprouts to be a bit green.
How Long Does it Take?
Mung beans grow faster than some other options; they’re ready to harvest when the leaf sprout is about 1.5 cm or ½ an inch long. For mung beans this takes about four days. You can leave the sprouts to grow longer, but don’t stop the sprouting process too soon.
Storing Bean Sprouts
Any time after day four, replace the screened lid with a normal mason jar lid and place the fresh bean sprouts in the fridge. It’s a good idea to place a dry cloth or paper towel in the jar with the sprouts to absorb excess moisture.
Rinse them once a day to prevent them from drying out. Eat them within a week.
Are Sprouts Safe to Eat Raw?
The indigestible starches in legumes become digestible in the sprouting process and they become as easy to digest as other vegetables. Try raw sprouts in salads, as a topping for sandwiches and soups, or wrap them in spring rolls. You can even add bean sprouts to your smoothies.
Bean sprouts are a nutritious and inexpensive way to increase your vegetable intake in winter, when fresh vegetables are more expensive.
Once you’ve tried growing bean sprouts you’ll never be tempted to buy those pale bean sprouts again.
Are Bean Sprouts Dangerous?
You may have heard talk of the dangers of eating sprouts. As with anything, proper storage is key to safety. Left at room temperature beyond the sprouting and rinsing process, these sprouts can harbor bacteria like salmonella.
Be sure to transfer rinsed sprouts to the refrigerator once they are ready to eat, and use them within a week.
Cooking with Sprouts
You can enjoy your sprouts lightly steamed. Bean sprouts are perfect to add to fried rice dishes, make a bean sprout stir fry, or add some to homemade pho or pad Thai.
Add sprouts to your cooked dish just before serving. I turn off the heat, add a lid, and let the residual heat steam the beans, while I’m putting the rest of the food on the table. They will remain tender crisp and maintain their high antioxidant levels, when steamed this way.
If you’re concerned about eating the sprouts raw, this is a good way to serve them.
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- 2 tablespoons of mung bean seeds (or lentils)
- Wash a wide mouth quart-sized mason jar and rinse it well to remove any soap residue.
- Prepare a piece of window screen to fit your wide mouth mason jar. I use polyester window screen on my sprouting jars, drawing a circle on the screen using the mouth of the jar as my pattern. I cut around the circle. Then my sprouting screen is ready to use. If you don’t have spare window screen laying around your kitchen, you can order specially made sprouting screens online.
- Place bean seeds in a one-quart mason jar.
- Place the screened lid on the mason jar.
- Fill the jar ½ full with cold water. Let the mung beans soak overnight.
- Rinse the mung beans in the morning and turn the jar upside down to drain.
- Rinse and drain your bean seeds twice a day for 4 to 6 days. The mung beans are ready to eat when the white sprout is at least 1.5 cm long. At this length the lectins in the bean are converted into digestible proteins. You can grow the sprouts longer if you wish. I like to grow them until they are about three inches long. It takes about five days for them to get that long.
If the sprouts are exposed to light while they are growing the leaf tip will turn green on days 5 and 6. If the sprouts are kept in the dark, they will remain white, like the bean sprouts from China. I like my bean sprouts to be a bit green.
No sprouting lid? You can simply cover the top of the jar with several layers of cheesecloth fastened in place with a rubber band.
Store sprouts in the fridge for up to a week. Rinse them once a day to prevent them from drying out.