Farmers’ market find: sprouted beans and lentils

What is it? A mix of sprouted organic chickpeas, mung beans, adzuki beans, and lentils from Cozzolino Farm, at the farmers' mar...

Margo True

(Photograph by Margo True)

What is it? A mix of sprouted organic chickpeas, mung beans, adzuki beans, and lentils from Cozzolino Farm, at the farmers’ market in Menlo Park, CA.

How long will it be around?March through October, when the farmers turn their attention to pumpkins and Christmas trees. “We’re a real small family farm,” says Tony Cozzolino. He isn’t exaggerating—he and his wife, Stephanie, do it all. Stephanie started the sprouts business a couple of years ago.

How do you eat it?Unlike an unsprouted bean or lentil, you can eat this mix raw—the sprouts are gently crunchy and delicious. Sprinkle into salads or a vegetable-based smoothie. Or, at the very end of cooking, add to a stir-fry.

Cool facts learned from farmer:Each type of bean or seed is rinsed three times a day to keep it clean and also moist, which triggers the sprouting. It takes three to five days for beans and seeds to shoot out their little hairlike sprouts—the beginnings of the baby plants. “All of this was washed this morning and it’s still growing,” says Tony, gesturing at his bins. Sprouted legumes and seeds are more digestible than unsprouted ones, because the soaking releases nutrients and enzymes that are otherwise unavailable.

Shopping tip (especially given the health scares that have been linked to sprouts):“You want a really reliable seed source. Everything we get is certified organic—all the seeds, all the beans, all the nuts.” The rigorous rinsing, says Tony, also helps control pathogens. Never buy (or eat) sprouts that smell funny or look wilted or slimy.

How do you store them, and for how long?Super-fresh sprouts like these are good for a week, says Tony. Storebought sprouts can’t compare; they’re already “3 to 5 days old, minimum.” Keep sprouts in the fridge, ideally in Tupperware or a glass jar.

Other intriguing sprouts at this stand:Sunflower and pumpkin seed sprouts, plus soaked almonds (they’re technically sprouted, but don’t have visible tails). “Mix these with dried cranberries for a really great trail mix.”

Sprouted trail mix at the Cozzolino stand. (Photograph by Margo True)

Sprouted trail mix at the Cozzolino stand.

Try some of our suggestions for how to use sprouts (and their older cousins, shoots) here. If we’ve missed your favorite way, let us know.