Friday, November 2, 2007

Buying and Storing Sprouts

Diet Start

Most grocery stores carry packaged alfalfa and loose mug beans, while farmer's markets, health food stores, and gourmet shops may offer a few of the more unusual sprouts, such as radish, sunflower, and clover. Fresh sprouts have a wonderful, clean aroma. When purchasing sprouts, look for firm, crisp stalks with intensely green leaves.

As sprouts age, their tops lose their rich color and sometimes darken. Examine the roots, as they show the first signs of aging. If they are brown or dry, do not purchase them. Mug bean sprouts should be plump, with the husks still attached and not too long (over three inches), since this is a sign of age. The smaller sprouts are more crisp and tender. Many Asian markets display mug bean sprouts in water-filled containers.

Sprouts should be stored in the refrigerator in a glass jar or rigid plastic container. Plastic bags will suffocate the plant, which is still living. Sprouts purchased in aerated plastic boxes can be stored in their original containers. For homegrown sprouts, place the sprout basket directly in the refrigerator with its top on, which will ensure that the sprouts remain sufficiently humid. Frost-free refrigerators tend to be very dry, so it may be necessary to mist sprouts with a pump spray or plant mister to keep them moist. Sprouts should not be stored for more than three to five days, depending upon the hardiness of the variety. While delicate in appearance, alfalfa, fenugreek, turnip, and mustard are the most vigorous.

Sprouts purchased loose, such as mug bean, should be soaked before using. Wilted sprouts can be revived by soaking in cold water for ten minutes. Gently swirl sprouts in a basin of cold water, skimming any hulls off the top using a tea strainer. Remove them from the water and pat them dry with paper towels before using them. Canned mug beans should be rinsed to remove excess sodium. Soaking canned mug beans in cold water will brighten their flavor and restore their crisp texture.

... andjoyohoxing