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bean sprouts


Synonyme: Sprossgemüse, Gemüsekeimlinge, Sprossen, Speisefrischkeimlinge, Keimpflanzen, Keimsprosse, angekeimte Samen, Samenkeimlinge, Keimpflanzen.



Keimlinge werden oft als "Sprossen" oder "Keimsprossen" bezeichnet. So ganz korrekt ist dies botanisch jedoch nicht. Denn der "Spross" ist eigentlich der Stängel einer Pflanze, der meist mit Blättern besetzt ist. Keimlinge sind junge Pflanzen, die sich noch nicht selbst über Wurzeln ernähren, sondern die Nährstoffe aus dem Samen ziehen. Sie bestehen aus Keimwurzel und -spross.
Sprouts were known in China as early as 3000 years ago. At that time, it was mainly certain species of beans that were sprouted and valued as a healthy food. Sprouts are still an important ingredient of many Asiatic dishes today.

Sprouts are becoming increasingly popular here as well. The demand is filled mainly by domestic products and those from Belgium and the Netherlands.


Sprouts can meanwhile be found all year round in the vegetable sections of many supermarkets. However, they are easy and inexpensive to grow in any season in one's own kitchen. The seeds are sold in natural food stores, health food shops and well-assorted food stores.

Suitable seed

The untreated seeds of many edible types of plants are suitable for sprouting. Avoid plants of the nightshade family, however, such as tomatoes and potatoes, as they contain a toxic substance (solanine) and should not be used.

In addition to those of grains and legumes, the seeds of herbs and vegetables can be sprouted. It is important to use only untreated seed, because in the brief sprouting period disinfectants cannot be biodegraded by the plant. Direct sunlight, heat, over-age, and air-tight packaging of the seeds reduce their ability to germinate. Shelled seeds, e.g., sunflower seeds, and spelted grains are often no longer germinable. It goes without saying that only whole, undamaged seeds can develop into sprouts.

If you want to be safe, buy seeds that are sold expressly as "germinable" or "suitable for sprouting". Such seed has assuredly not been chemically treated and is fully germinable up to the date declared.

For the sake of clarity, the most frequently used sprouts are divided into three groups:

Grain sprouts can be raised from wheat, rye, oats and barley. Among the legumes, peas, chickpeas, lentils, soybeans, mung beans, rice beans and adzuki beans are especially good for sprouting, whereas it is safer not to eat sprouts from garden beans. Particularly popular are sprouts from lucern (alfalfa), cresses, and radish and mustard seeds. These are frequently called green sprouts. Fenugreek, buckwheat and flax seed are also good for sprouting, and you can try pumpkin and sunflower seeds or sesame as well.

Grain sprouts have a slightly sweet flavor; rye is more aromatic. Sprouted legumes taste fresh and crisp, sometimes also nutty and sweet. Sprouts from radish, cress, mustard and fenugreek are very pungent, sharp, and in some cases bitter. Many types of seeds can be combined, as their tastes enhance one another, and they can be sprouted at the same time.


Sprouting begins when the seed has absorbed sufficient water and has swelled up. With the absorption of so much water, the energy content of the seed per 100 g is considerably reduced.

During the first few days, the sprout needs the nutrients stored in the seed to meet its need for energy and building material to make new cells. Depending on the length of germination and the type of plant, the ingredients of the seeds change during sprouting.

The chemical changes in the germinating seed activate a flood of enzymes. With their help vitamins, minerals, polyunsaturated fatty acids and fiber are formed.

The content of B-vitamins and vitamin C increases during sprouting. But other ingredients are broken down, making the sprouts more digestible than their seed. The percentage of carbohydrates is also reduced by sprouting. Legumes lose about 80% of the carbohydrates they contain in this way. Starch is partly converted to sugar, which is especially conspicuous with grain sprouts.

100 g contain:

Grain sprouts,
Mung bean sprouts, fresh
Lucern sprouts, fresh
Soybean sprouts, fresh
Soybean sprouts, cooked
Energy (kcal) 70 24 32 50 46
Water (g) 80 89 91 86 87
Protein (g) 3 3 4 6 5
Fat (g) <1 <1 1 1 1
Carbohydrates (g) 13 2 2 5 4
Fiber (g) 3 6 2 2 2
Vitamin A (mg) 1 7 16 4 4
Vitamin E (mg)  0.3 0.1 0.1 no data 0,1
Vitamin B1 (mg)  0,1 0,1 0,1 0,2 0,1
Vitamin B2 (mg)  0 0.1 0.1 0.2 0.1
Niacin (mg) 3 2 1 2 3
Vitamin B6 (mg) 0.1 0.1 0 0.2 0.1
Folic acid (mg) 6 61 36 160 86
Vitamin C (mg) 0 11 8 20 10
Potassium (mg) 100 134 79 235 127

Sodium (mg)

1 5 6 30 25
Calcium (mg) 11 13 32 32 32
Magnesium (mg)
50 18 27 19 12

Phosphorous (mg)

100 49 70 75 73

Iron (mg)

0.8 0.9 1 0.9 0.7

Differences in the contents of minerals and vitamins may be explained by the fact that (a) different plants were initially analyzed, and (b) minerals from the soybean sprouts were leached out into the water during cooking.

Harmful substances

Most legumes should not be eaten raw because they contain the toxic protein substance phasine, which is destroyed by cooking. Therefore, neither should you eat the seed sprouts raw. It suffices to steam these sprouts for about 10 minutes. Peas also form phasine when they sprout, and the sprouts should therefore be heated like other legumes.

Sprouted green beans must be heated for 15 minutes; thus, these seeds should not be used for sprouting. Sprouts of lentils and mung beans can be eaten raw; they do not contain phasine.

Quality criteria, optimal storage conditions

Fresh sprouts are sold in keep-fresh packaging and are usually found in the cooling shelf. Because they do not keep very long, they should be stored in the crisper of the refrigerator, best in a plastic bag or container or in the packaging in which they were sold, for no more than 3–4 days.

Sprouts can also be blanched and frozen.

Cultivation of sprouts

To germinate, the seeds require sufficient water, air, warmth (18–20°C) and – depending on the type of plant – light. Many seeds, e.g. grains, germinate better in the dark and should not be exposed to light until they have done so.

It is not difficult to raise sprouts by yourself. The seeds must first soak in water for several hours so that they can swell up and the germination process can begin. Then the seeds belong in a sprouting container.

Various sprouting devices are sold, or the seeds can be germinated in a preserving jar. It is important, however, that you provide for adequate ventilation in the sprouting container. Should you decide on the latter variation, several things must be taken into consideration: In place of a lid you should close the jar with plastic mesh, a net, or a very coarse-meshed cloth. Then place the jar on a slant with the opening toward the bottom, so that surplus water can pour out and air can flow in.

Now the seed should be watered for several minutes regularly, i.e., twice a day. There are also some seeds, such as those of many legumes, which thrive better if they are rinsed 3–4 times a day. Following each watering, the jar should be placed in the position described above. Depending on the type of plant, the sprouts can be harvested after 3–6 days. Before they are eaten, they should be rinsed again thoroughly.

Some species of plants, such as flax seed or cress, exude slime after being moistened. To avoid them clogging the ventilation holes of the sprouting container, these seeds can simply be spread on a plate and sprayed with water several times a day.

You must be careful, however. Not only sprouts, but also bacteria and moulds thrive in the moist, warm environment of the sprouting container. Therefore, after the harvest you should always clean the sprouting container very thoroughly with hot water and rinse it out with vinegar if necessary. Some devices can also be cleaned in the dishwasher.

Form of consumption, use, processing, practical tips for preparation

Many salads can be complemented with sprouts. Or try wheat-sprout muesli. Sprouts also combine well with warm vegetables. They are particularly popular in East Asian dishes, e.g., those cooked in the wok or the well-known egg rolls or spring rolls.

As already mentioned, sprouts from legumes must be steamed for 10 minutes prior to being eaten. The exceptions are lentils and mung beans, the sprouts of which can also be eaten raw. If you can't digest fresh sprouts very well, scald the raw sprouts with boiling water and rinse them in cold water. This will make them more digestible.

A so-called sprout flour is made industrially from sprouted wheat. It is used to enrich bread flour and to bake special sprouted bread. In some cases the grain sprouts are crushed and added to the dough directly before it is baked. This produces a bread that resembles pumpernickel and is very digestible.

Furthermore, malt is produced from grain that has begun to germinate. This is used in breweries and to make spirits.

Seasoning tip

Especially exotic ingredients such as soy sauce, ginger, Tabasco, chilli, coriander, anis and sherry go well with sprouts, preferably from mung beans.


The soybean sprouts that are sold are often not really raised from soybeans but are rather mung bean sprouts. You would do well to ask about the type of bean before you buy them, because sprouts from soybeans may not be eaten raw.

Asparagus, broccoli, cauliflower, and chicory or Belgian endive are sometimes called vegetable sprouts. These are naturally not the same as sprouted seeds.





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