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With Bean Sprouts, Freshness Is Key

Fine Cooking Issue 77
Photo: Scott Phillips
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Mung bean sprouts, which are used in rice noodle stir-fries, are extremely perishable, so you need to pay extra attention when you’re buying or storing them. Here are some tips:

How to buy: Look for sprouts that have crispy, white roots with yellow and light green leaves. Darkening roots, sliminess, and a musty odor are all signs that sprouts may be over the hill. The USDA recommends that sprouts be stored at 32ºF, which is colder than most grocery store produce department shelves. If the sprouts on display don’t look very fresh, ask if there are more in the back cooler. Don’t buy sprouts too far in advance because they’ll fade after a couple of days.

How to store: If not using the sprouts that day, rinse them in a colander under cold water, transfer them to a zip-top plastic bag lined with paper towels, and refrigerate in the vegetable bin. If you need to keep them longer than a couple of days, try storing them submerged in a covered container of ice water in the refrigerator, changing the water and adding more ice daily. This can prolong their life for up to 5 days.

Easy ways to use up sprouts: Pile them on a sandwich or in a wrap—they add a great juicy crunch and are especially tasty with avocado. Toss them into an Asian-style slaw made with Napa cabbage, carrot, scallion, chopped peanuts, sliced jalapeño, mint, cilantro, lime juice, and peanut oil. Sprouts also add a nice crunch to soups and go well in any stirfry; just don’t cook them for more than a few minutes or they’ll get soggy

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