Nutritious bean sprouts
Ready to eat in a few days, effortless to grow and extremely nutritious, bean sprouts are as close as you can get to an instant vegetable.
Bean sprouts and seed sprouts are exceptional vegetables, unlike anything you grow in your garden. They are an indoor crop which can be started at any-time of the year, and in any climate, since they require neithernor sun. And they are ready to eat in less than a week from the sowing date, sometimes in as little as three days. Because they are so quick and easy to grow, bean sprouts are an inexpensive and highly nutritious source of fresh vegetables all the year round. Extremely rich in vitamin C, they are delicious in salads and make an attractive and tasty addition to cooked dishes. They are also a familiar ingredient in many Chinese recipes and are used in curries and risottos.
The most popular beans for sprouting are mung beans and adzuki beans. Mung beans (Phaseolus aureus), also sold as Chinese bean sprouts, are pale green in colour, with white sprouts. Adzuki beans (Phaseolus angularis) are rich mahogany-red beans, also with white sprouts. Other types include triticale, alfalfa and fenugreek, each with their own distinctive flavour.
Beans and seeds for sprouting can be obtained from supermarkets, Chinese grocers and health food shops, as well as from nurserymen. Some suppliers offer ‘sprouting packs’, containing. Several varieties of seeds and beans.
The simplest, cheapest and most effective way of growing bean sprouts is the glass jar method. All you need is a jam jar or a similar clear glass container, a rubber band and a piece of muslin. The muslin should be large enough to fit comfortably over the jam jar opening and be secured with the rubber band. If you do not have muslin, use a piece of cheesecloth, or any other fine, white cotton cloth.
If this is your first try at growing bean sprouts, do not exceed the recommended amount of seed. By the time the seed has sprouted and is ready to eat, it will have increased in volume as much as tenfold. If you start with too many seeds, they will fill up the jar and push out the top. With experience, you will learn the exact quantity for your container and this will not happen.
Take about 10 ml (2 teaspoons) of the seed you plan to grow, and rinse it thoroughly in tepid tap water. The best way to do this is to place the seed in your glass jar, fill the jar nearly to the top with water, and shake vigorously. Drain completely, and then repeat the procedure four or five times, draining thoroughly after each rinse.
After rinsing several times, secure the muslin cover with the rubber band, and place the jar on its side in a dark cupboard. Temperature for sprouting must be between 13 and 18°C (55 and 65°F), so an airing cupboard is an ideal place.
Bean sprouts are one of the most trouble-free crops you can grow. All that you need do is rinse the seeds thoroughly twice each day, morning and evenings, then replace the jar in the dark place, « > always on its side. The seeds must always be kept moist, but not really wet or they may go mouldy.
You should notice your seeds beginning to sprout in a day or two. Mung beans will be ready to eat in three to five days, when they have increased in volume at least eight times, and the shoots are about 5 cm (2”) long. Adzuki beans will be ready in four to six days, when the shoots have reached 2.5 cm (1”). If you leave the beans to grow after they reach the desired length, they will become long and stringy, lose their crispness and discolour.
Bean seeds sprout because, with the help of warmth and moisture, the seeds’ store of fats and starches are converted to vitamins, sugars and proteins for growth. Exactly the same process occurs when seeds are sown in soil or. The sprouted seeds are highly nutritious and quite filling. Cook them quickly to retain the maximum vitamin content.
If you do not eat all the shoots at once, they will keep for a few days in the salad compartment of the refrigerator. However, as they are so cheap and easy to grow it makes sense to grow only what you can use at a single time, and then to start a new crop.
To start a second crop, simply wash and dry your container and start again with fresh seed.