Soak 1-1/3 cups of beans overnight in pure water. Use a 1/2 gallon mason jar or other similarly-sized container. I like using 1/2 gallon mason jars with sprout screens best. But you can also use a stainless steel strainer or a stainless steel pot.
In the morning, drain and rinse the beans well. A sprout screen is a great investment (but still inexpensive) you can make for your kitchen. You will need a canning jar metal band to hold it in place. Repeat the rinsing and draining every 12 hours, or each morning and evening.
The maturing of the sprouts is a matter of preference. Generally, I sprout beans for around 3 to 5 days. We don’t prefer older mung bean sprouts because we find them more bitter when older, unless cooked (and we prefer to eat these sprouted beans raw in salads). Mung beans are shown in the top picture (click to enlarge). We like to eat them when leaves are just beginning to appear, colored in yellow-purple.
As you can see in the top photo, my mung bean sprouts are all curly, not thick and straight stalked like you’d find in the market. The way to get mung beans to have long, straight, thick roots is to sprout them in a container that allows them to keep that posture. Like a tray where they can stand tall and grow upright. I personally don’t worry about doing it this way. I grow mine in 1/2 gallon jars and they get curly because they’re all jumbled in there.
The second picture I include here is of mature lentil sprouts (click to enlarge). We like them when the first leaves have just appeared and are green. They get green just from filtered light coming through the kitchen window.
The last picture is of my last sprouted garbanzo beans. Truth be told, they got older than I intended. The tails are beyond the 1/4-inch that I prefer, but as with all sprouts, this is a matter of preference. There are no rules about when is the best time to eat sprouts. Unless you consider the rule not to eat anything if it is spoiled, in which case, a simple smell test can let you know that.
Finally: storage. I take well-drained and rinsed bean sprouts and store them in the refrigerator in Anchor Hocking large glass storage dishes. (I am so thankful for these storage dishes!) The cool temperature of the fridge will slow, but not stop, the growth of the sprouts. If not eaten within two days, you should rinse them again, to keep them fresh.
How do I use the sprouts? Well, mostly in salads, such as in this salad. You can also sprout other beans, such as kidney beans or pinto beans. Add them raw to salads or in soups. See Four (4) Yummy Ways to Use Sprouted Beans for more information and ideas.
Any questions, comments? What are your sprouting experiences? Do I have any of my details wrong?