How To Tell If Bean Sprouts Are Bad? The Quick Guide
The crunchy vegetable bean sprouts are fun to grow, easy to cook with and delicious to eat. When growing your own vegetables it can be daunting: Is it safe to eat? Has it gone mouldy? How long can I store them for? After many requests we’re going to breakdown everything to look for before consuming bean sprouts, to ensure they’re edible and suitable for eating.
What Are Bean Sprouts?
Bean sprouts are a small white shoot that sprouts from the mung bean. They’re very easy to grow, after soaking for a few hours you simply leave to sit in a jar rinsing them a couple of times per day. Making them ideal for home growers, chefs and healthy eaters.
Characterised by their long off-white shoot and crunchy snap when you bite into them, bean sprouts are often eaten as a side vegetable, in stir-fries or as a salad. On their own, they can be bland and even boring, be sure to incorporate strong flavors to get the most out of them.
How To Tell Your Bean Sprouts Have Gone Bad
To start with it’s important to note that if your gut instinct is that your sprouts have gone bad, don’t even risk it. Bin them, wash your vessel and start again. They’re so simple and cheap to grow there shouldn’t be a second thought.
Here are a few signs your sprouts have gone bad:
Smell - Mung bean sprouts should be pretty odorless, just like any other salad component or at most a little earthy. If they smell pungent, fishy, sour or anything nefarious they have gone bad. If you haven’t washed them well, sometimes a layer can build up, thoroughly wash them before smelling.
Mold - Any sign of fuzzy clumps of mold means that your sprouts have gone bad. If correctly sprouted the surface should be shiny or slightly reflective. No covering or layers should form, the common type of mold to form will be a white fuzzy layer.
Taste - Plain in nature, they should just have a snap. They should not be chewy, soggy or sour - this would suggest they’ve gone bad - dispose of them immediately.
Canned Bean Sprouts
When eating canned sprouts, they’ve already been preserved, and last for years. If the process has been done correctly and they should be sour, and still have their crunchy texture in tact. In the same way as other canned produce, if they haven’t been preserved correctly then there is a high chance of bacteria growing which could be potentially harmful. Therefore thoroughly inspect that no air has gotten inside, they smell good, and no signs of mold.
How To Prevent Your Sprouts From Going Bad
There are many steps that you can take during the preparation, and sprouting stages to prevent your beans from going bad.
Here are our top 5 tips for preventing your sprouts from going bad:
Location - Keep your sprouts out of direct sunlight, and in an area with good airflow. The sunlight risks making your sprouts too hot, and the airflow will ensure they dry out quickly after washing. If your sprouts sit in stagnant or hot water it will encourage bacterial growth, which could result in mold.
Wash Frequently - It’s essential that you wash your sprouts thoroughly 2-3 times per day. This keeps them fresh, washes any unwanted growths away and also encourages the sprouts to grow. If they’re left for several days without washing they’ll become stagnant, smelly and go bad.
Eat After Sprouting - Bean sprouts are best consumed fresh after you’ve finished the sprouting process. Don’t leave them to wait for weeks at the back of your fridge!
Clean - Before eating be sure to thoroughly clean your sprouts. When sprouting they can be sat in water. Making them ripe for bacteria growth, including E-Coli - therefore it’s essential you thoroughly wash your sprouts and only buy from reputable suppliers or brands.
Risks Of Eating Bad Bean Sprouts
Can You Get Food Poisoning From Bean Sprouts?
There are risks associated with eating bean sprouts, there have been many reports of food poisoning including e coli, salmonella and listeria. This is because the sprouts sit in stagnant water whilst growing, in ambient room temperature conditions, allowing for them to become a breeding ground for growth.
How To Avoid Food Poisoning When Eating Sprouts?
Always cook your sprouts before eating. This is the simplest but most effective advice. By raising the temperature of the sprouts when cooking you’re killing bacteria and reducing the risk of getting food poisoning.
Other tips are to wash your sprouts thoroughly multiple times per day, make sure there is no stagnant water, and also wash well before cooking.
How To Make Your Sprouts Last Longer
There are a few methods to make your bean sprouts last longer, they include placing them in the fridge, or freezer. Each have their own pros and cons, as well as shelf lives. We’ll explore them below so you can select the right one for you.
How Long Do Bean Sprouts Last?
Depending on the storage method, they can last between a couple of weeks all the way up to several years!
Can I Still Eat If Left Unrefrigerated?
We would never recommend for you to leave grown bean sprouts unrefrigerated. Not only will mold growth occur, the risk of food poisoning will increase dramatically too. Never store in ambient conditions.
Storing sprouts in the fridge is the simplest and most common form of storage, if stored correctly they can last between 2-6 weeks. Here’s How To:
1. Thoroughly rinse your sprouts with fresh water
2. Dry your sprouts, using towels, a rack, or salad spinner (wet sprouts may cause food poisoning)
3. Place your sprouts in a airtight plastic container or zip lock bag
4. Store in the fridge
Freezing sprouts is ideal if you have a big batch of sprouts and want to use them for stir-fries or meals infrequently. You can expect them to last for 3 months in the freezer.
1. Bring a large pot of water to the boil
2. Add your bean sprouts and blanch for 3-4 minutes
3. Remove your sprouts and add them to a large bowl of ice water
4. Spread your sprouts on a baking sheet and place in the freezer for 10-15 minutes
5. Once hard on the outside put your sprouts in a zip lock bag or airtight container then store
Is It Safe To Eat Out Of Date Bean Sprouts?
It’s never recommended to eat out of date food, especially foods that have higher risks of contamination, food poisoning, and bacterial infection. If your sprouts are out of date, put them in the bin.
How Long Can You Keep Bean Sprouts In The Fridge?
Fresh bean sprouts can be stored for between 2-6 weeks in the fridge, as quoted from FreshPantry.com. For longer term storage it would be recommended to check out freezing methods for storage.
Do You Wash Bean Sprouts?
Yes! You’ll need to wash your sprouts a couple times per day during the sprouting stage and then also before you cook them too - it’s essential you keep them clean and hygienic.
How Do You Keep Bean Sprouts From Spoiling?
The best method is for you to follow the storage tips and keep them in the fridge, freezer or can them to ensure safe contamination free storage.
Are Bean Sprouts Dangerous To Eat?
For high risk groups such as pregnant women, people with low immunity and other vulnerable groups it’s best suggested to not eat. As they carry a higher chance of food poisoning than other foods, the risk is too high.
Can I Freeze Fresh Bean Sprouts?
Yes, freezing bean sprouts is recommended for those that want a steady supply of bean sprouts at home. Perfect to grab and chuck into a quick stir fry or to bulk out a meat dish too!
What Can I Do With Leftover Bean Sprouts?
There are many things to do! Try a new salad recipe, stir fry, snack or add to a sandwich. Bean sprouts are highly versatile and can be used to create or top up many dishes.
Looking For Sprouting Equipment, Seeds, Advice For Where To Begin? Check Out Our Guide To The Best Sprouting Gear For You.