We all love bean sprouts, don’t we? Their mild flavor and slightly crisp texture attract most food lovers. They have become an integral part of Asian cuisine and also go well with most kinds of salads! However, their extremely short shelf life has made their storage and easy access an issue in most kitchens. Is freezing bean sprouts the solution?
Most of us may find our bean sprouts all mushy in about 24 hours of purchase (we do!). Hence, we did our research through trial and error and found some great remedies that increased the shelf life of our bean sprouts. Here are some practical freezing bean sprouts tips and a storage guide to help you preserve them for longer. Keep reading; take screenshots or notes!
Can you freeze bean sprouts?
Yes, you can freeze bean sprouts for up to 10 months. But it will take a little more effort than just stocking them directly in the freezer. You will need to blanch them first and then store small portions in freezer bags. Finally, make sure that the freezing bags are airtight.
Bean sprouts freeze well after blanching because of their high water content. If not prepared appropriately before going into the freezer, they will turn mushy due to this water retention. The whole process may take you about 12-15 minutes for a moderate amount of bean sprouts. It depends on the quantity you are dealing with.
Can you freeze raw bean sprouts?
No, you cannot freeze raw bean sprouts well. They will start turning mushy and lose their crunchy texture in a couple of days. You must blanch your bean sprouts before freezing them. Technically, blanching them means that your bean sprouts are not raw anymore.
We tried freezing raw bean sprouts, and ours lost their original texture within 48 hours. Hence, we do not suggest moving forward with this approach.
Should you wash bean sprouts before freezing?
Yes, you need to wash bean sprouts before freezing them. This will remove any excess dirt or bacteria that may have accumulated on the vegetables. Often farm-fresh vegetables tend to come with some extra bits which you can easily spot and remove while washing. Moreover, they will be ready to use right after defrosting if you’ve washed them before freezing.
Washing is the first rule for every vegetable or fruit after purchase. The same applies to bean sprouts. More importantly, if you plan to store them in your freezer, you would not want to introduce any bacteria or dirt into it. You would also not appreciate finding a mixture of dirt and sprouts once you defrost them.
Best way to store bean sprouts in the freezer?
The best way to store bean sprouts in the freezer involves blanching them before storing them. Suppose you do not follow the proper procedure. In that case, you will find a soggy, mushy mixture of your sprouts in your freezer bag upon defrosting. Wash them, blanch them, give them an ice bath, and store them in airtight freezer bags.
Freezing helps stop the growth of bacteria. After proper storage in the freezer, your bean sprouts can last you months! Follow our step-by-step guide to store your bean sprouts in the freezer in the best way. Let’s take a deeper look.
Freezing Bean sprouts in the freezer using blanching
Step 1: Rinse the sprouts thoroughly under cool running water
Rinse your bean sprouts well and lay them out on a flat tray. If you have not prepared for the next step (having a boiling pot of water) beforehand, lightly tap the bean sprouts with a paper towel to remove excess water. This will prevent them from getting soggy while you boil the water for the next step.
Be sure to do the washing and tapping very gently as you may bruise and damage your sprouts if you are too rough with them.
Step 2: Boil a large pot of water
Blanching requires water in a relatively generous amount. Using a deeper pot of boiling water would be ideal as water may evaporate quickly in steeper pots or pans. Wait till the pot displays a rolling boil.
A rolling boil means that the entire surface of the water is covered with bubbles. Even after stirring, the bubbles would not dissipate.
Step 3: Keep a large bowl of iced water ready
As part of the freezing process, you will need to give your bean sprouts an ice bath. You must make sure that the water is actually icy for the blanching to work correctly.
Adding some ice cubes to the bowl of water would help maintain a low temperature. Add the ice cubes after each batch if you are freezing a large batch of bean sprouts.
Step 4: Cook a handful of bean sprouts in the boiling water for 3 minutes
Drop a handful of the vegetables into the pot of water you boiled in step 2 and let them cook for no more than 3 minutes. We do not recommend overcrowding the pot with the sprouts as they may cook unevenly then. Try to keep your batches small, as blanching would work best that way.
You can also use a colander to gently immerse your bean sprouts in the boiling pot of water. We prefer boiling them directly in the pot to ensure an even spread of the vegetables and produce a more evenly cooked batch.
Do not let the bean sprouts cook for more than 3 minutes, or you will have mushy and soggy sprouts even after going through the whole process!
Step 5: Transfer your cooked bean sprouts to the ice water for about 1-2 minutes
You must transfer them quickly into the ice water for an ice bath. Leave them be and wait for about 1-2 minutes until they cool in the bath. This step will halt the cooking process immediately and leave your vegetables tender but crunchy.
We suggest that you use a slotted spoon while transferring the bean sprouts from boiling water to icy water. A slotted spoon will decrease your chances of accidentally adding hot water to your ice bath and increasing its temperature.
Step 6: Spread them and let the water dry properly
You need to let the water drain thoroughly, but also be quick here. We suggest spreading the bean sprouts on a flat layer of paper towels and gently patting them dry.
Again, use the slotted spoon to remove the vegetables from the ice bath to help drain excess water. Draining this water is extremely important to avoid a freezer burn. The freezer burn will not damage your sprouts, but it will most likely make them taste very unpleasant.
Step 7: Lay your bean sprouts on a metal sheet pan and put them in the freezer for about an hour (we have an alternative for this step, read below)
After the sprouts have dried, take a flat metal sheet pan (or any other utensil that would serve the same purpose) and spread out your bean sprouts all over it evenly. Be gentle here as you may damage or bruise the vegetables if you are not careful. Put this tray in the freezer for approximately an hour.
Do not leave them uncovered in the freezer for too long. Being exposed like that may increase the chances of a freezer burn.
Step 8: Remove the sheet pan from the freezer and transfer your bean sprouts to freezing bags
Quickly but carefully transfer your bean sprouts to a freezer bag. Make sure you do not fill it up too much to avoid clumping. Moreover, bean sprouts tend to expand a little when they cool completely. Leave half a bag empty to give the sprouts extra headspace.
Plus, ensure that the freezing bags are airtight.
Step 9: Lay your freezer bags flat in the freezer
Keeping the bag upright would lead to the formation of clumps and a mushy mix of vegetables upon defrosting. Laying the bags flat considerably decreases the chances of clumping as the bean sprouts are spread out horizontally and not forced to take the shape of the upright bag.
And that’s it! You’re good to go! These frozen bean sprouts can last you up to 10 months!
Alternative to step 7: Transfer your bean sprouts to the freezing bags and leave them in the freezer for 10 minutes
You can transfer your vegetables directly to freezing bags and leave them in the freezer for about 10 minutes. Then, you need to take the bags out and give each of them a thorough shake. Finally, just put the bags back in the freezer following step 9.
We suggest that you adopt the freezing sheet pan method. This would be most suitable for delicate vegetables like bean sprouts as it would allow them to spread out evenly and not clump together, maintaining the integrity of the vegetable. Plus, after an hour, we still put the bean sprouts in a freezer bag in the pan method too.
Tips on keeping bean sprouts fresh
Keeping bean sprouts fresh is integral in ensuring that they maintain that crispness and flavor that makes them so popular amongst food lovers. Unfortunately, keeping them fresh can prove to be a challenge for most people. Don’t worry! We have some very handy, tested tips for you that will definitely help you lock the freshness of your sprouts for longer!
Make sure you buy fresh
Buying the freshest bean sprouts in the market is key (as it is with all vegetables). Vegetables are supposed to be fresh, right?
While buying, look for sprouts with white, crispy roots and light green and yellow leaves. Do not buy vegetables that smell bad or show darker shades. If you’re buying pre-packaged bean sprouts, be mindful of the expiration date label.
Don’t wash too aggressively if you plan on storing them in the fridge
Wash your bean sprouts very gently and pat them dry before you put them in the fridge. Excess water can turn these vegetables bad quicker than you think.
If you plan on freezing the sprouts, rinsing them thoroughly would be a good idea!
Line your storage container or bag with paper towels
Bean sprouts tend to retain a lot of moisture, which can lower their shelf life. Lining your containers or bags with paper towels and laying the bean sprouts over them will absorb extra moisture.
You can create multiple layers as well, but don’t overcrowd the container/bag.
Keep them chilled before you use them
Take a bowl of chilled water and keep your bean sprouts in it before using them. This will help retain the crisp texture of your sprouts for longer.
Avoid defrosting your bean sprouts
You may find that after defrosting, your bean sprouts turn a little mushy. We suggest that you avoid this and pop them directly into your cooking pot/pan. This will not give them a chance to thaw.
If, however, you plan on adding them to a salad, you should defrost them by leaving the storage container/bag in the fridge for an hour or so.
We suggest cooking the bean sprouts thoroughly before consumption to reduce any chances of food poisoning.
Store them open in the fridge
If the bean sprouts are to go in the fridge, storing them open after layering with a paper towel would be a good idea. This would increase circulation and protect the sprouts from retaining excessive moisture.
Avoid over packing
While storing, you must ensure that the vegetables are not all tangling with each other. Whether you’re storing in the fridge or freezing it in the freezer, your storage bag/container should allow for extra space for the vegetables.
Can sprouts cause food poisoning?
If the sprouts are lightly cooked or raw, they may contain bacteria and other organisms that could cause food poisoning as a symptom of Salmonella, Listeria, or E. coli. They pose the risk of food-borne illnesses if they are contaminated with bacteria and consumed without proper cleaning or cooking.
If your pre-packaged sprouts are labeled “ready to eat”, you do not need to worry about cleaning or cooking them.
Why do sprouts cause food poisoning?
Raw or lightly cooked sprouts can be contaminated with bacteria (Salmonella, Listeria, or E. coli). When consumed, these bacteria enter the consumer’s bloodstream and cause different symptoms, including food poisoning.
Sprouts are grown in environments with moisture and warm temperatures. These two requirements also help create breeding grounds for bacteria and stimulate their growth. Hence, there are high chances of the presence of these harmful bacteria in the vegetables.
Make sure you wash and cook your sprouts thoroughly before consumption. Cooking tends to kill most of the harmful microorganisms in the sprouts (and any other vegetable). For hassle-free consumption, you may purchase sprouts that are labeled “ready to eat”.
FAQs about bean sprouts!
How long should I boil bean sprouts?
To be on the safe side and reduce the risk of food-borne illnesses, we suggest that you boil your bean sprouts till they are boiling hot throughout. Boiling for about 2 minutes in rolling boil water should do the job.
Can you eat bean sprouts raw in a salad?
No, you cannot eat bean sprouts raw in a salad. They need to be cooked and cleaned properly to kill harmful bacteria and germs that may cause food poisoning. They are grown in warm and moist environments where the presence of such microorganisms is likely. You can consume them raw only if the package says “ready to eat”.
How do I know if my sprouts are moldy?
Check for mold at the base of the sprout. It usually settles there and does not wash away even after rinsing properly. If you grow your sprouts yourself, check the top of the soil for traces of mold. Moldy sprouts also give off a strange, smelly odor and have a slimy texture that can be easily detected.
Final words on freezing bean sprouts!
Storing a highly perishable vegetable like bean sprouts can seem like a difficult task. But don’t fret! Freezing them is the perfect way to go. Just follow our easy step-by-step guide, and you’ll be enjoying crunchy bean sprouts for a long time!
It’d be wise to keep a stopwatch running to ensure that you don’t mess up those delicate bean sprouts. Timing is vital in this process! Also, be gentle while handling them. There’s no going back from a bruised bean sprout.
Also read this guide on how to get frozen papaya at home!