Sprouts are a wonderful winter food. When greens at the grocery store are starting to look less than appealing while still costing a small fortune, sprouting can be a great way to get your greens at a reasonable price. Sprouts may not be a superfood like organ meats but sprouts are a very nutritious plant-based food.
Sprouts are full of chlorophyll, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and enzymes. Mung bean sprouts can be eaten raw or cooked. They are nice in salads and will add some crunch to stir-fried winter vegetables.
If you live in Kamloops, BC and are looking for an inexpensive source of organic mung beans, Nature’s Fare can order in 25 pound bags for about $60.00 or you can buy a pound for about $5.00. Deanna Hurstfield from the Kamloops Organic Buying Club turned me on to a wholesaler out in Nelson, BC called Organic Matters. I was seriously impressed with their choice of products and useful re-useable containers.
Simple Mung Bean Sprouts
2T dried organic mung beans
Sprouting is very easy. Add 2T mung beans to a 1L mason jar. The beans should be rinsed 2-3 times a day with filtered water. The trick with mung beans is to keep them in the dark to avoid the sprouts getting tough and bitter. Cover the mouth of the mason jar with a cheese cloth kept in place with a elastic band. An alternative is to use a metal or plastic sprouting lid. Place the jar on its side in a warm, dark place. After a few days the skins of the mung beans should be removed. Some people find the skins bitter. The skins will float to the top of the water during rinsing which makes removal easier. The mung beans should be ready after 4-6 days depending on the temperature. A good trick is to start a second jar in 2-3 days for a continual supply of sprouts.
When the mung bean sprouts are ready to eat it is better to remove the sprouts from the sprouting jar and transfer the them to a glass container covered with a plastic bag and kept in the fridge. In the fridge, the sprouts should be good for about one week but the sprouts will be much better eaten within a day or two.
Blanched and Pressed Sprouts
1/2c dried organic mung beans
If you really get into mung bean sprouting you might like to try growing mung sprouts under a weight which is called the pressure method. This is considered the best way to grow mung bean sprouts. Traditionally, people would bury the sprouts in about one foot of damp, fine sand. After a week they would dig out the sprouts after the surface of the sand expanded and cracked. Being so deep in the sand, the sprouts would be blanched. This process is called horticulture blanching.
Soak the mung beans for 12 hours in a mason jar. Let them sprout for another 1-2 days in the mason jar before transferring to the bowl or tray method.
The two spouting methods that can be used at home during the winter months is the bowl or tray method. The bowl method makes less sprouts but is easier for a beginner. The method uses standard kitchen equipment which avoids extra costs. Look around your kitchen and see what equipment will work in your situation. The first time I made pressed sprouts, I used a large stainless steel bowl that a colander could fit inside. I wet down an old piece of reused, cotton cloth leaving enough cloth to cover the sprouts. I put the 1-2 day old sprouts onto the damp cloth and covered them. Then I filled a second stainless steel bowl with enough water to weight a total of 3-5 pounds. The sprouts and cloth should be rinsed with cold water two or three times a day. The blanched, pressed sprouts will be ready in 3-5 days. Launder the cotton cloth between loads to avoid bacterial build up.
For larger quantities of sprouts the seedling tray method works better. (I will share more about my experiments with seedling trays, microgreens and indoor lights in a later post.) The seedling tray is covered with a damp piece of cotton cloth with the 1-2 day old sprouts on top. The sprouts are covered with another piece of damp cloth and covered with a second tray. A dispersed weight of 3-5 pounds is put top of the second tray to weigh down the sprouts. (I found that a tray half filled with soil works well.) This will give a plump, blanched mung beans with a mild flavor. Launder the cotton cloth between loads to avoid bacterial build up.