Soy and mung bean sprouts are extremely popular, and considered to be the most globally consumed member of the sprout family. Until recently, the mung bean has only been used in Asian cuisine, but is now featured in Western dishes as a nutritious food that is low in carbohydrates.
The Chinese have mastered the art of sprouting mung seeds. Their method is to soak the seeds in room-temperature water for at least eight hours before planting. Soybean seeds are placed in a wet towel for several hours before planting to help the seeds soften and regain moisture.
The seeds are placed in a tub of water and soil; ample drainage is necessary. To help the sprouts maintain a tender, plump appearance, they are positioned in a room containing no direct sunlight and sprinkled with room-temperature water several times per day.
The sprouts are ready for harvest in four to six days, or when shoots are at least 1 inch tall. Wash before serving, discarding all discolored or deformed sprouts.
Soybean sprouts left in the moist soil will develop nodes, leaves and flowers. The flowers will grow pods containing one or more seeds. When 95 percent of the pods have developed, the plant will have reached maturity. Pods can then be harvested, and seeds may be eaten or planted to restart their life cycle.
The bean sprouts themselves are a sign the life cycle for the plant has ended. This species of bean sprout will last one growing season. Replanting is necessary for this plant to sprout again.