Stillwater News Press

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July 13, 2014

Grow! 07-13-14

Bean sprouts easy to grow

If you have no space outdoors for a garden, don’t despair because you can still grow something consumable. Bean sprouts are the easiest and fastest crop to grow.

As an added bonus, they can be grown right in your kitchen with very little space – all you need room for is a jar. Because they’re so easy to grow, it’s a great project in which to involve children in the household.

Mung beans are the most popular variety of bean used for sprouting, but you can sprout any kind of bean, or even lentils, and each will have a distinctive flavor. To get started all you need is a handful of beans, a jar, cheesecloth, a rubber band and a dish towel.

Start by washing the bean seeds thoroughly in water. Pick them over to remove any small stones or debris. Use about one-half cup of beans for a large mason jar. The beans will expand three to five times their original volume, so be sure to adjust the amount of beans according to the size of container you’re using. Overcrowding can lead to poor sprouting and prevents proper washing, which can encourage rotting.

Soak beans overnight in warm water at room temperature. In the morning, drain the beans and rinse thoroughly two to three times. Put the beans in the jar and cover the opening of the jar with three or four layers of cheesecloth. Lay the jar on its side and shake gently to spread out the beans evenly. The beans will sprout in three to six days depending on the variety and the temperature of the room. During sprouting, it is important to rinse the beans regularly – about two to three times per day in cool weather and three to four times in hot, humid weather. Rinsing is important because it keeps the beans evenly moist for sprouting. Rinsing also keeps the seeds fresh and clean.

Some food-borne illnesses have been found associated with sprouts of all types. Rinsing does not guarantee protection against pathogens. Until effective measures to prevent sprout-associated illness are identified, persons who wish to reduce their risk for food-borne illness from raw sprouts are advised not to eat them, in particular, persons at high risk for severe complications of infections with Salmonella or E. coli O157:H7, such as the elderly, children and those with compromised immune systems, should not eat raw sprouts.

It’s important to keep sprouts out of the light. Light causes sprouts to turn green. White sprouts have a more delicate, sweet flavor. You can place the jar of sprouts in a cabinet or closet to keep them out of the light, just be sure to remember to rinse them. It may be best to keep the jar on the counter where you will see it regularly. Cover the jar with one or two dish towels to protect them from the light.  

Once the sprouts have reached the desired size, rinse them in a bowl of cold water and run your fingers through them gently to separate the sprouts. Remove any hulls that float to the surface. Drain the sprouts well and store them in a plastic bag in the refrigerator.

Kimberly Toscano is assistant extension specialist and host of the OETA television program Oklahoma Gardening, which airs at 11 a.m. Saturdays and 3:30 p.m. Sundays, and assistant director of The Botanic Garden at Oklahoma State University.

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