General Description: Sprout seeds of various vegetables, grains, and legumes have just begun to germinate. Sprouts can grow from the seeds of vegetables such as broccoli and radishes, from grains such as alfalfa and buckwheat, and from beans such as lentils and soybeans. Sprouts vary in texture and taste. Some are spicy (radish and onion sprouts), some are hardy, standing up to brief cooking (mung bean and soybean), others are more delicate (alfalfa and pea) and are used in salads and sandwiches to add texture and moistness. The flavors range from a garden-fresh sweet pea to a mild radish. There are also many kinds of packaged mixed sprouts that combine different colors, flavors, and textures.

Alfalfa sprouts are thread-thin and white with tiny green tops and have a subtle nutty flavor and crisp texture. They are the most common sprouts found in grocery stores. Other sprouts exist, however, and each takes on the flavor of its host seed. Clover, dill, lentil, onion, pea, pumpkin, radish, soybean, sunflower, and wheat sprouts are all occasionally available.

Mung bean sprouts are about 2 inches long, have small, light yellow leaves and a silvery white shoot. They have a subtle nutty flavor and high water content

Season: Sprouts are in season year-round.

Purchase: Choose crisp sprouts with firm, moist, white roots.

Avoid: Do not buy musty-smelling, dark, or slimy sprouts.

Storage: Store sprouts in the vegetable crisper for up to 3 days and use as soon as possible. More delicate sprouts such as alfalfa should be refrigerated in the ventilated plastic container in which they’re sold for no more than 2 days.


Sprouts need little preparation. Rinsing daily under cold water can extend their life.

Note: You need not remove the yellow head of soybean sprouts before using. In China the root end of mung bean sprouts is removed, and for special events the yellowish head end is also removed. These full-trimmed sprouts are called “silver sprouts.”

Serving Suggestions: Add any raw sprouts to salads, sandwiches, burgers, or tacos. Stir-fry mung and soybean sprouts, but cook no longer than 30 seconds to avoid wilting.

from Quirk Books: