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How to grow sprouting beans

Sprouting beansMark and I both enjoy the flavor of bean sprouts, so of course we wanted to produce our own.  First I experimented with urd beans, which grew beautifully and turned out to be semi-self-shelling, but were iffy to eat --- the duds went rock hard and tended to get mixed in with the sprouts, damaging teeth.

Since mung beans are the variety you see in most stores, I figured they might be a better option.  Finding the seeds was tough...until I realized that I could simply buy some beans for sprouting and germinate them in the soil instead of in the kitchen.

Mung bean flowersI'm glad I changed varieties because our mung beans have been even more productive than the urd beans were.  (It's not really a fair comparison, though, since the urd beans got nibbled by deer and the mung beans didn't.)

The one flaw in mung beans at the growth stage is that they tend to sprawl out across the aisles, suggesting that a small trellis might come in handy for next year's planting.  Otherwise, mung beans are one of our easiest crops since they don't seem to have any pests and just keep plugging right along while the cucumbers wilt, the tomatoes blight, and the green beans get eaten by beetles.  (Don't worry, we're getting good harvests of other vegetables despite these problems --- it's just restful to look over at the mung beans after struggling with certain other crops.)

Mung bean plant

I do have a couple of tidbits to help those of you who want to try growing mung beans.  First is during the harvest phase --- try to pick ripe (black) pods once a week if you live in a damp climate so none of the beans mold.

After picking, I just spread the beans out on a tray for a couple of days to dry the dew off, then shell them.  Mung beans will self-shell like urd beans, but the miniature explosions make me feel like I live at a shooting range, Handful of mung beansand the beans tend to get strewn around in all directions, so I generally end up taking the beans out of the pods by hand.  (Yes, I can shell beans while I read.)

The other tricky part about growing sprouting beans is eating them.  Luckily, mung beans don't seem to produce the rock-like non-sprouters that urd beans do (or maybe I've just gotten better at sorting them out during the harvest stage).  But you need room temperature conditions to get the beans to sprout before they mold.  I kept trying to sprout beans in the winter, because that's when we crave fresh produce, but the truth is that in our non-climate-controlled trailer, the warmer seasons are a better time for sprouting.

We've been enjoying eating up last year's mung beans, but this year's harvest is even bigger --- two cups so far with more on the vine.  Looks like I need to get creative about cooking with sprouts.

Our chicken waterer deletes a messy daily chore.


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Directions are online (you should check which ones your prefer). You can also include them in cooked oatmeal, or in cornbread, or maybe even in your brownies!
Comment by adrianne Mon Aug 13 11:15:56 2012
Mom --- I like the sprouts best raw or very lightly cooked, so I'm not sure about freezing or baking with them. But we've enjoyed them in a lot of dishes already --- mixed into tuna salad, sprinkled into soup at the same stage as sweet corn (just as I turn off the heat), mixed into stir fries (both at the end to cook, and after the stir fry cools slightly to keep them raw and crunchy). I'll have to try to remember to give you some to try out!
Comment by anna Mon Aug 13 16:19:44 2012
I LOVE MUNG BEAN SPROUTS! This is simply inspirational!
Comment by Maggie (hess) Mon Aug 13 16:45:12 2012
Maggie --- I love them too! You'll have to grow your own next year.
Comment by anna Mon Aug 13 18:43:48 2012

One very unique homestead, $1,500 per acre, the opportunity of a lifetime