I grew up in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. I was a child of the 70’s. As a kid, I wore bellbottom jeans and a poncho. I had Earth shoes, clogs, ankle bracelets and a bowl haircut, which I would sometimes part and feather back with a large-toothed comb. On the handle of that comb was printed–inexplicably–“The Fonz” with a picture of two “thumbs up.”
Take that all in.
Unfortunate, I know.
I was too young to be a hippie. Also, my father worked for the Bethlehem Steel Company, which we called “The Steel.” Everyone in Bethlehem worked for “The Steel,” directly or indirectly. “The Steel” may as well have been “The Man.” If you worked for “The Man,” then you were not a hippie. You were square. Our whole family, above fashion quirks aside, was square.
If we HAD been hippies, we might have sprouted mung beans!
Being nomadic campers, we might have purchased dry mung beans at the health food store, placed them in our traveling sprouting jar, soaked and rinsed them daily, and eaten them raw with whatever other food we had (salad? granola? pot brownies?). In other words, we would grow our own food as we moved from place to place.
You can sprout your own mung beans today, even if you live a quiet existence in the suburbs!
First, what are mung beans?
Well, nowadays, you can find them at many grocery stores, and you will not require a trip to a special store. Here’s how you might find them:
These can be cooked on the stovetop in water for about 30 minutes. Like other beans! Cooked beans can go in soups, salad, mixed with rice or other grains, etc. You decide.
Mung beans are legumes (like peas or lentils) and are high in protein, fiber, antioxidants and phytonutrients. If SPROUTED, those benefits are magnified!
You can buy sprouted mung beans in some health food stores, but they can be expensive. Also, if you buy sprouted mung beans, you’ll only keep them in the refrigerator for two or three days. But listen! You can sprout your own! So cheap! So easy! And if you sprout your own, you are generally safe to keep them in your refrigerator for up to a week.
Here are five steps:
DAY ONE: Place 1/3 cup dried mung beans in a sprouting jar with 1 cup of water. (You may pick over, rinse and drain the beans before you place them in the jar with the 1 cup of water.) Leave them that way overnight (or for 8 hours). Place the jar in a cool but un-refrigerated, dry, shady spot on a counter-top somewhere.
My advice: Buy a sprouting jar (pictured). However, if you do not have a sprouting jar, I know other people use mason jars with screened lids, bowls with loose, cloth coverings or plain-old lidded plastic containers with good result. You’ll need a separate strainer for un-screened containers.
DAY TWO: In the morning, drain off the water, rinse the beans, drain the water out again. Let the beans sit like that. They’ll be moist, but no longer covered in water. Repeat this step at night before you go to bed.
DAY THREE: Do the same as for Day Two. Rinse in the morning, rinse at night.
See the little shoots emerging?
DAY FOUR: Same deal as yesterday!
DAY FIVE: First thing in the morning, you’ll see sprouts at a pretty good size. You’ll have about two cups of sprouts. Listen! You can keep growing them into the future and they’ll continue getting larger. I like them as pictured. Put them in a clean, covered container in the refrigerator. They should keep for a week.
Note of caution. You may use sprouted mung beans cooked or raw. If you cook your sprouts (as I did in my recent Pad Thai dinner), you rid them of contaminants. If you eat them raw, which you can do in salads, be aware of the risks. They really are delicious raw and lots of people eat them that way, but because mung beans are sprouted at room temperature in moist conditions, bacteria and mold can grow. You can mitigate risk by keeping your sprouting jar clean or by rinsing them with water (and with vinegar if you like) before use. Foodsafety.gov has more on this subject, and you are wise to have a look at the risks.
Dude! That talk of governmental safety standards was a downer 🙁
Try not to think too much about “The Man.” Eat your sprouts and you’ll feel groovy.