I learned about mung bean sprouts from an old friend who became a natural-food enthusiast in the early seventies. Every time I visited her home, I noticed a jar of sprouts in her dish drainer—so I asked her about them. She explained her simple process, and I’m forever grateful to her. I make them frequently, and like that they’re an affordable, fresh-tasting treat that I can make any time of year. They’re also a good source of antioxidants, fiber, vitamins, and minerals and have a lot of health benefits.
Mung bean sprouts can be eaten raw or cooked, and once you have a big jar of them in your refrigerator, you’ll probably find lots of uses for them. Add them to green salads, wraps, and sandwiches, and toss them into cold salads such as tuna, potato, egg, or mock tuna salad. You can also add sprouts to Asian-style stir-fries and sauteed vegetables (toss them in toward the end). Lastly, use them as a garnish and try them on baked sweet potatoes seasoned with butter or olive oil, nutritional yeast, flaky salt, and a pinch of za’atar (can you tell this is a favorite go-to dinner for me?)
To make mung bean sprouts, you’ll need three things—dried mung beans, a wide-mouthed jar, and a mesh screen lid.
My friend made a lid for me using window screen and duct tape and it has lasted for decades. I replace the duct tape now and then, but it has served me well. If you don’t have the supplies or the time to make a custom lid, you can buy this metal sprouting lid set. This plastic version is also nice, but I prefer to sprout beans placing the jar at an angle rather than upside-down, so I’m not sure how useful that feature is. More on that later.
The Mung Beans
If you have an Asian foods market, health food store, or food coop in your area, I would start there. You can also look in the bulk and health food sections of any grocery store. Bob Red Mill is a name-brand option that you might find at larger stores.
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Getting mung beans to sprout takes about 48 hours. I like them on the sturdy side and am often satisfied with them at 24 hours, but 48 hours is more typical, and the sprouts look prettier. You’ll soak them in a large mason jar, drain them, and prop the jar at an angle to let them do their thing. Then, you’ll rinse and drain about 2-3 times a day.
Place ¾ cup mung beans in a fine-mesh strainer or colander. Rinse and do a quality check, picking out any discolored sprouts.
Transfer mung beans to a jar with a sprouting lid. Fill the jar with filtered water at least a couple of inches higher than the sprouts so they are fully submerged.
Let mung beans soak overnight.
Drain In the morning. Give the jar a light shake and prop it at an angle in your dish drainer. This method helps expose more mung beans to the air so they can drain and sprout.
Rinse and drain 2-3 times/day for two days. Every time you rinse and drain, place them at an angle again. They will sprout in 24-48 hours. Below is a close-up photo at 48 hours.
Transfer to a dry jar with a lid and refrigerate for up to 3-4 days. You could also store them in a food storage container with a tight lid and a clean dish towel on the bottom to help absorb moisture.