A staple in Asian dishes, mung beans are easy to sprout. Although you can easily find mung beans in health food stores, be aware that sprouting the seeds in warm, humid conditions and eating them raw could lead to foodborne illness.


Wake Up the Seeds

Mung beans will last for months when dry, but are ready in a few days once coaxed into action. To convert them from their dormant state to crunchy, succulent sprouts, rinse the beans thoroughly under cold, running water in a sieve to remove any grit, then transfer them to a large plastic bowl and cover the beans completely with lukewarm water. Use at least 3 cups of water for every 1 cup of beans, which will double in size as they soak. Cover the bowl with a lid and leave it overnight at room temperature. After eight hours, the beans will start to produce tiny shoots.

Prepare for Sprouting

After soaking, skim off any husks on the surface and get rid of any seeds that are floating, or that do not sink when you stir the water. Pour out the water through a sieve and transfer the sprouting beans to a large, sterile glass jar with a perforated lid. A mason jar works well, especially if you replace the metal disc in the lid with a mesh one. Or, stretch cheesecloth across the opening and secure it with a rubber band. Use a jar large enough to allow the beans room for sprouting.

Nurture the Growth

Lay the jar on its side so the beans reach the edge of the lid and leave the jar in a cool, dark place for three to five days. At that point, you should have 1/2-inch-long sprouts. Rinse and drain the sprouts in running water up to four times a day throughout this sprouting phase. Rinse them with cold water, around 60 degrees Fahrenheit, using a pressure spray nozzle, if your sink has one. Remove any unsprouted beans after each rinsing. Drain the beans thoroughly after each rinsing before returning them to the cool, dark spot. The idea is for them to be moist and humid but not sitting in liquid. Once the beans are fully sprouted, rinse and drain them one last time and refrigerate them.

Take Precautions

Always check on the package or with the store that the beans are intended for sprouting, as these will have been cleaned thoroughly and tested for pathogens. Sprouts that are intended for planting will most likely have been treated with chemicals. Because sprouts are eaten raw and need a warm, humid environment for sprouting, they carry the risk of harmful bacteria, including salmonella and E. coli. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration both advise against eating raw sprouts if you have a weakened immune system or if you are pregnant. Cooking sprouts softens them and might reduce the risk, but the cooking process won’t be long enough or at high enough heat to eliminate the risk entirely.