Of Radishes And Sprouts

QUESTION: Is there anything more delicious than a handful of freshly picked radishes?

Like these:

ANSWER: Yes, if you grew them yourself.

Like this:

I love the way French* radishes peek out of the ground, as if to say "Eat me, I'm ready!"

Round radishes don't do that. You have to poke around to check on their size.


The first experiment is over. This is what the mung bean sprouts looked like this morning (day 5):

Not quite what I had in mind: they're skinnier than I'd like, and the leaves are overly developed.

They taste fine, though, and I'm having chow mein for lunch.

Now the goal is to get them fatter and straighter. There's also a way to grow them without those long thready roots.

Back to square 1.

* They may be French (this variety is "French Breakfast"), but the seeds are by McKenzie Seeds, from Manitoba.

** Radishes also make the best sprouts, but you have to buy special sprouting seeds. (Or let a few your own plants go to seed.)



The distributor of a popular sprouter started a rumour about mung bean sprouts requiring industrial tricks in order to get them to look like the ones you buy at the store, and that myth is being spread -- and believed -- all over the internet.

The myth goes like this:
Most commercial Mung Beans are grown with chemicals and gasses in huge 500 gallon machines.
You will likely never get your home grown sprouts to look like those [...]
After following his instructions for sprouting mung beans, I believed it too. My sprouts were puny.

Why Grow My Own Sprouts?

Lately, I have been making and eating Vietnamese spring rolls. They are perfect for this super-hot weather we've been having. Plus they're great for the waistline. On a good day, mine look like this:

Photo borrowed from

I like them no matter what I put in them, but I like them best with bean sprouts as part of the filling. I even started growing mint, basil and cilantro in the garden, mostly for my spring rolls. I searched, and found, a Chinese grocer in town, who stocks all the other ingredients I can't get here.

The problem is neither of the supermarkets in this village sells bean sprouts. I have to drive to town -- an hour and a half away -- to get them, and I can't stock up because they keep very poorly.

What spurred me to dig for a way to make nice big sprouts was my last visit to the Chinese grocery store. They carry bean sprouts all right, but when I asked for them I was brought a big plastic bag full of them and given a small bag, and told to help myself. With my hands? I asked. Yes.

Wondering how many other folks had had their hands in there, I grabbed about half a pound. They ended up in the compost.

How To Grow Mung Bean Sprouts

That's when I went to YouTube, and, surprise! I found lots of videos, but one particular one from Asia somewhere (Thailand?). It was a long, unedited video, showing a semi-industrial way of making sprouts, from beginning to end. No 500-gallon machine, no gas, just a stack of Rubbermaid storage containers like you'd find anywhere, some cotton squares, beans and water. Lots of explanations, but in a foreign language. No translation. However, it seemed awfully clear to me that there is nothing mysterious about getting sprouts to grow to a nice size and length. Nothing beyond the following:

  • Darkness
  • Moisture
  • Warmth (or rather, lack of cold)
  • Time
I'm trying to reproduce those conditions by using a stainless steel pasta pot with a perforated insert, and it's looking very promising! 

First I washed the beans, then I soaked them overnight. Then I placed them on top of a piece of cotton cloth and covered them with another cloth. I covered the pot with the lid, and left it on the kitchen counter.

I water my sprouts twice a day, just like any other kind. I change the water in the bottom pot once a day.

Today is Day 4 and this is what my sprouts look like:

Day 4

They are nice and fat and crunchy. According to another video I saw, it can take up to seven days to get the size I want, but for most purposes they are ready to eat now.

I started another, very small batch, in an insulated coffee goblet, following another video. They are looking just as good.

I'll keep you posted.