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.

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