Bean and alfalfa sprouts are a delicious addition to the diet. They are versatile, and can be used in salads, sandwiches, or stir-fries. These tiny seedlings have a nutty flavor and are also packed with nutrition. Instead of buying them at the grocery store, where they’ve been handled and picked over and are likely past their prime, why not grow your own?
Growing bean sprouts is simple. First, obtain the seeds. Mung beans are the common sprout sold in groceries, but you can grow many types for eating raw or cooked including soybeans, alfalfa, chickpeas (garbanzos), and common dry beans like pinto, navy, kidney, or great northern. Some varieties, such as dry mung beans, may only be available in specialty grocery stores or health food stores. Choose seeds that have not been treated with any type of fungicide or insecticide – beans packaged for consumption are a good source.
Place the seeds in a clean quart-size jar with a wide mouth. Cover the bottom of the jar with ¼ to ½ cup of seeds. Add about a cup of water, and cover the mouth of the jar with cheesecloth or a sturdy paper towel, secured with a rubber band. Let the seeds soak for eight to twelve hours to soften the seed coat.
After soaking, drain the water and rinse the seeds. Replace the covering on the mouth of the jar, turn the jar on its side, and shake the jar to distribute the seeds evenly along the side of the jar. Keep the jar in a dark place, such as inside a kitchen cabinet or on a closet shelf, at a moderate room temperature.
Rinse the sprouts two to four times per day, making sure excess water is drained. Keeping your sprouts clean will eliminate fermentation or mold. When they reach the desired size, probably within two to five days, wash them to remove the seed coat and enjoy! Sprouts will keep in the refrigerator for one or two weeks in a sealed container.