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Mung bean sprouts are a type of young bean sprout popularly used in Chinese cuisine. The dried mung beans are sprouted in low-light areas. The resulting sprout is a crisp, white vegetable used raw in salads or lightly cooked. Sprouted beans are nutritious and a good source of vitamins, protein and and enzymes.
Bean sprouts are the first growth that emerges from the bean after germination. The sprouts of mung beans are traditionally between 2 and 4 inches (about 5 and 9 cm) long when eaten. The delicate sprouts have a crunchy, slightly sweet flavor. Sprouting beans at home is an economical and fast way to add fresh, nutritious vegetables to the diet. Mung bean sprouts are high in protein; vitamins A, C and E; and are a good source of iron and potassium.
Mung beans can be sprouted at home with minimal equipment. The seeds are first washed in water, and any floating or broken beans are removed. Once thoroughly washed, the beans are soaked in room temperature water, or water at least 32°F (about 0°C), for eight to 12 hours. The soaking process softens the hard seed coat, allowing water to penetrate and stimulate germination.
A mason jar works well for growing mung bean sprouts. A mesh lid or a lid with holes punched in it should be used. The damp beans are placed in the mason jar and the lid secured. The jar should be laid on its side in a dim area, as mung beans sprouted in an area with lots of natural light turn green. They are just as edible but lack the traditional white color.
The mung bean sprouts should be rinsed every eight to 12 hours during the sprouting process. The jar can be filled with water and then turned upside down to drain. The mesh lid allows water to escape while keeping the sprouts from falling out. Mung beans sprout best in a temperature range between 70 and 75°F (about 21 to 23°C).
Mung beans germinate in one day and fully emerge in two to thee days, producing shoots about a half an inch (1 to 2 cm) long by the second day. By the fourth or fifth day, the sprouts grow 2 inches (about 5 cm long), and by the eighth day, the sprouts are 3 to 3.5 inches (about 8 to 9 cm) long. The sprouts can be harvested anytime during the process. The younger sprouts have the most delicate flavor and texture.