Generally the phrase “Sprouts” means either “Brussel Sprouts” or “Bean Sprouts”, but it can also include Bamboo Sprouts — there is no real, set definition.
When used to refer to Bean Sprouts, it means the first seedling growth coming up from either seeds or beans.
Bean Sprouts require only water and some warmth to grow. The seeds or beans are just dampened. There can’t be too much water or they will go mouldy instead of growing. They need to be rinsed several times a day, or they can go sour. Generally germination starts within two days. Most can be eaten when they are 2 to 3 inches (5 to 7.5 cm), which shouldn’t take more than 4 to 5 days. Seeds and beans can be sprouted in the dark, to blanch them, or in the light, but not in the direct sunlight as then they will quickly develop chlorophyll and become bitter.
Most Sprouts sold in stores tend to be made from either Mung Beans or Alfalfa seeds. They are mostly sold fresh, but some can be bought canned, especially for Chinese cooking.
When buying fresh Sprouts, choose crisp, clean ones. Avoid those that are slimy – they are past it.
Bean Sprouts add crunch to dishes.
Bean Sprouts are usually eaten raw, but can be cooked lightly for up to half a minute.
It’s a myth that Sprouts are better for you nutritionally than the unsprouted seeds or beans would be. In fact, it’s a trade off, because while the Sprouts give you vitamins and minerals that the seeds didn’t have, they use up nutrition that was in the seed or bean, making that nutrition no longer available to you.
Not all Sprouts are good — for instance, the Sprouts of potato plants are poisonous.
1 cup of bean sprouts = 2 1/2 oz = 75g
Store in fridge in an open plastic bag; use Bean Sprouts within two days.
Literature & Lore
What’s green and goes camping? — A boy sprout.