Having bean sprouts is a great way to add more vegetables to your diet. Just like all other vegetables, though, bean sprouts have a time where they are still fresh. So if you want to get the best bang from your bean sprouts, you may want to know how long they last.
Whether fresh or canned, bean sprouts can last for 2 or 3 days when out in the open. If you keep them in the fridge, they can last for up to 1 or 2 weeks or up to a month when submerged in water. If you keep your bean sprouts in the freezer, then they may last for more than a month.
However, how long bean sprouts last will also depend on the quality they’re in when you buy them. Bean sprouts that weren’t abused since getting harvested would last longer. In contrast, bean sprouts that were mishandled would last shorter.
How To Store Bean Sprouts
If you bought the canned versions, treat them like any other canned vegetable. A cool spot on your shelves or pantry should suffice. If you bought fresh ones, rinse them first before storing them. If you want them to last longer than two or three days, then keep them in the fridge.
If you want them to last even longer, submerge them in the water while in the fridge. Change the water every 1 or 2 days. You can store leftover canned bean sprouts like fresh ones. If you don’t plan on using them for weeks or even for more than a month, store them in the freezer.
How To Know If Bean Sprouts Have Gone Bad
A major red flag to watch out for is mold. If you see any sign of mold on your sprouts, like fuzzy hairs, throw them away. Don’t just throw away the moldy sprouts. There may be microscopic mold particles that could have spread to the other sprouts.
There are other bad signs to watch out for, but these don’t mean the sprouts are unsafe to eat.
After some time, bean sprouts will turn soft and moist or slimy. They can have a smell that is distinctively off or different from fresh ones, like a musty odor. These signs don’t necessarily mean the sprouts are unsafe. But they can taste differently. If the off-taste is too bad, you don’t have to force yourself to eat them.
Sprouts that are dry or have a darker color mean these sprouts were mishandled. They may have been in warm temperatures or tossed around. But, again, dryness and dark colors don’t mean the sprouts are unsafe to eat. It just means that they weren’t handled properly, so they don’t look as pretty as those that were handled well.
Sprouting Your Own Beans
If you are adamant about using fresh sprouts, but can’t find some, then you can try sprouting your own. The most common bean used for sprouting is mung beans.
Get whole beans, not split ones.
These beans are thought to have originated in India. Then they made their way throughout East and Southeast Asia. Thus, you’ll also likely find mung beans in Asian grocery stores.
In the big chain stores, you may find mung beans in the section with other beans, pulses, and grains. You may also check the Asian sections. Make sure that the beans weren’t treated with anything that keep them from sprouting.
Before you begin the sprouting process, you may want to rinse the beans first. They tend to have dust or dirt. There may even be small stones. Broken and empty beans tend to float. You can remove these or just let them be.
After rinsing, please place them in a sprouting container. It can be anything that can hold the beans and water, like a jar, a bowl, or a deep dish. Soak the beans for at least 8 hours. Up to 12 hours is usual.
Do not cover the container.
If you want to protect it from insects, you may use paper towels or cloth so that air can still circulate.
After at least 8 hours, you may find several small bubbles on the surface. That is normal. Discard the water.
Keep the beans in a spot away from sunlight. Again, either keep them uncovered or use a breathable material like paper towels.
Sprouting should begin after another 12 hours. A sign of sprouting about to begin is the skin breaking. You may rinse and drain them again after those 12 hours. Instead of keeping the beans in their container after soaking, you may transfer them on cloth. You can use a muslin bag.
Keep in mind that beans can take different times to sprout. After soaking, some beans can sprout after 12 hours, while others can sprout after 3 hours.
Where To Buy Bean Sprouts
Bean sprouts can either be sold fresh or canned. However, it’s unlikely you’ll find fresh sprouts in a general produce section.
You probably won’t even find them in the canned vegetable aisle. Bean sprouts are a staple in much Asian cooking. So if you’re looking for some, then you’ll likely find them in a local Asian grocery store. If you only have access to big chain grocery stores, then you may find them in the Asian produce and foods sections.
The big chain grocery stores will probably only have the canned bean sprouts. They’re usually canned with water and salt. They may have ascorbic acid or citric acid, so they can last longer. You read earlier that bean sprouts tend to last for 2 or 3 days when out in the open.
That short lifespan is the main reason big stores prefer to sell canned versions. After those short days, the sprouts tend to dry up or wilt. When that happens, it doesn’t mean that the sprouts are unsafe, innutritious, or gross to eat. However, people tend not to buy produce that looks wilted.
How To Choose Bean Sprouts
Fresh bean sprouts look like short white noodles that are about half an inch long. They have a yellow tip on one end where the bean used to be. You might even see hints of small green leaves.
They have a crunchy texture. If you bend them, they can break with a sharp sound. Their aroma can range from odorless to a mild earthy or herby aroma. Temperature is a key factor that influences sprout freshness.
The USDA recommends keeping sprouts on display at 32 °F, which is cooler than most produce shelves. So you may find sprouts that look like they may have been left unattended for too long. If so, ask if there are fresher ones stored somewhere else.
How to prepare beans sprouts?
If you are sure they are clean, you can eat them fresh. You can add fresh sprouts on top of soups, stews, salads, wraps, and other dishes. Stir frying is a common way to cook bean sprouts in many Asian dishes.
How healthy are bean sprouts?
A cup of bean sprouts, which is about 200 g, only has about 60 Calories. There are about 6 g of protein, 12 g of carbohydrates, 3.5 g of fiber, and less than 0.5 grams of fat. There are also studies that show the health benefits of bean sprouts. Some studies found they can help in digestion and blood pressure.