Once thought of only as Chinese vegetables, bean sprouts are now widely used in a variety of dishes.

Once thought of only as Chinese vegetables, bean sprouts are now widely used in a variety of dishes.  Sprouts are easy to grow, and they’re a good source of protein, as well as many vitamins and minerals.  In addition to being very nutritious, sprouts are inexpensive, costing only about five to eight cents a serving.

Many methods of sprouting beans seem to give good results.  The three methods we’ll discuss in this article are very simple, because they make use of materials most of us already have around our homes.  My information was provided by Emeritus Extension Vegetable Specialist Jim Stephens, of The University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.

The first step in sprouting is the same for all three methods.  After buying some beans or seeds sold specifically for sprouting, sort them carefully, choosing only clean, whole specimens.  Thoroughly was about a quarter of a cup of those you select, place them in a bowl or jar, and cover them with lukewarm water.  Let the beans stand overnight.  My morning, they should have expanded to about three times their dry size.  Rinse them well, and pour off all excess water.  Now, you’re ready to proceed with one of our three sprouting methods.

To use the first method, place a couple of tablespoons of the soaked beans in a quart jar, and cover the top securely with nylon mesh or cheese cloth.  Turn the jar on its side, so the beans form a thin layer, and place the jar in a warm, dark, humid location.

The next step is very important.  At least three times every day, until the sprouts are ready, put lukewarm warm water into the jar, swirl it around and drain it off.  The seeds should be keep moist, but no wet.

Depending on the beans or seeds you’re using sprouts will develop in three to five days.  Rinse and drain the sprouts as soon as they reach optimum length, and before rootlets appear.  If you’re geminating mung beans, the sprout should be one-and-a-half to two-and-a-half inches long when they’re harvested.  Alfalfa sprouts are best when they’re about one inch long. Soybeans sprouts should be no longer than one-half inches before they are harvested.  And sesame and sunflower sprouts should be used as soon as they’re visible.

To employ the second method, spread a couple of tablespoons of soaked beans on several layers of dampened paper towels, fitted into a colander, or perforated plastic trap.  Wrap the container in a block plastic bag, but leave the opening loose, to allow ventilation.  As with the first method, the seeds must be rinsed thoroughly, three times each day.  When the sprouts first appear, you can replace the black plastic bag with a clear one, so you’ll be able to tell when the sprouts have reached their proper length.

To use the third method, just place a couple of tablespoons of soaked beans in the bottom of a new clay flower pot, that’s been saturated with water.  Place a cloth screen over the bottom hole, and cover the entire pot with a layer of muslin or cheese cloth.  As previously described, the beans should be rinsed and drained three times a day, until the sprouts reach optimum length.

Regardless of the method you choose, the sprouts must be used or stored as soon as they reach proper size.  Place them in covered containers in the refrigerator.  They’ll keep three to five day.

For more information on weed killers contact the Gulf County Extension Service @ 639-3200 or visit our website:  http://gulf.ifas.ufl.edu or www.http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu and see Publication  HS 557 & HS 555.