Sprouts are a nutritious addition to many dishes. Their crisp texture and fresh flavor make them a tasty topping for sandwiches, salads, and more. However, sprouts are perishable and have a relatively short shelf life. So can you freeze bean sprouts to extend their use?
What are bean sprouts?
Bean sprouts are simply germinated beans. They come from the seeds of beans or legumes such as mung beans, soybeans, chickpeas, and lentils. When these seeds are sprouted, they undergo natural enzymatic processes that boost their nutritional value.
Sprouts are highly perishable because they are still living, breathing plants. However, their crisp texture and concentrated nutrients make them a popular ingredient in many types of cuisine. Common varieties include:
- Mung bean sprouts are the most common, with a mild, nutty flavor.
- Soybean sprouts are large sprouts with an earthy taste.
- Alfalfa sprouts are small sprouts with a mild, nutty flavor.
No matter what type, bean sprouts add crunch and a burst of nutrients to dishes. But can they be frozen to extend their shelf life?
Can you freeze bean sprouts?
Yes, you can freeze bean sprouts to make them last longer. However, freezing changes the texture of sprouts, making them better for cooked dishes than raw recipes.
When frozen, the water inside sprout cells expands, bursting cell walls. This damages the crisp, juicy texture. Thawed sprouts end up mushy and limp.
So while edible, frozen sprouts won’t retain that perfect crunch for salads or sandwiches. But they work well in soups, stir-fries, fried rice, and other cooked dishes. Their softened texture blends into the other ingredients.
Freezing also helps stop enzyme activity that can lead to spoilage. This makes frozen sprouts safe to eat long after fresh sprouts would have gone bad.
How to Freeze Bean Sprouts
Freezing sprouts is quick and easy.
- Start with fresh, crisp sprouts. Discard any with signs of spoilage, like sliminess or dark spots.
- Rinse sprouts under cool water and drain thoroughly. Excess moisture can lead to ice crystals and freezer burns.
- Spread the prepped sprouts in a single layer on a baking sheet. Avoid overcrowding.
- Place the sheet in the freezer for 1-2 hours until the sprouts are frozen solid. You can then transfer it to freezer bags or airtight containers.
- Label bags with the type and date. Frozen sprouts will keep for 8–12 months at 0°F.
- Avoid refreezing thawed sprouts. Only freeze once for food safety.
The quick flash freeze prevents sprouts from sticking together into a clump. For best quality, use frozen sprouts within a year.
How to Cook with Frozen Sprouts
Frozen sprouts won’t work raw, but they cook up great in:
- Soups: Add towards the end to gently heat through.
- Stir-fry: Toss in with other frozen veggies for an easy side.
- Fried rice: Their softened texture works perfectly here.
- Egg dishes: Mix in scrambled eggs or frittatas.
- Sandwiches: Try cooked sprouts with grilled cheese for extra flavor.
- Baked goods: Fold into bread or muffin batters for a nutrition boost.
Thaw larger amounts of frozen sprouts overnight in the fridge before adding them to recipes. For quicker use, run the bag under warm water for 2-3 minutes to thaw just what you need.
Benefits of Freezing Bean Sprouts
Freezing sprouts allows you to:
- Preserve seasonal abundance: stock up on in-season fresh sprouts to freeze for later.
- Prep ingredients ahead of time. Keep bags of frozen sprouts to whip up quick meals.
- Reduce food waste: freeze leftovers or extras before they go bad.
- Save money: buy large quantities when prices are low to freeze.
- Enjoy their nutrients year-round. Frozen sprouts retain vitamins and minerals.
With some planning, you can enjoy nutrient-packed sprouts long after fresh ones are gone!
Storing Thawed Bean Sprouts
Once thawed, sprouts are again perishable. Use within:
- 1 day: Keep thawed sprouts in the fridge and use ASAP for best quality.
- 2-3 days max. Place in a bowl with a damp paper towel overtop to help retain moisture.
The softened texture also means that thawed sprouts spoil faster. Toss out any with an off smell or slimy texture.
Thawed sprouts won’t regain their signature crunch. So focus on using them in cooked dishes, not raw recipes.
Risks of Freezing Bean Sprouts
Freezing does change sprouts, so be aware of a few risks:
- Texture changes: sprouts become limp and lose their crunch.
- Mushiness: Cell damage leads to a softened, mushy texture.
- Oxidation: Sprouts may darken slightly over time in the freezer.
- Freezer burn: improperly sealed sprouts can dry out.
- Bacterial growth: sprouts only freeze safely once. Don’t refreeze after thawing.
While not ideal for raw salads, frozen sprouts still offer nutritional benefits. Just account for changes in use and texture.
Bean Sprout Recipe Ideas
Both fresh and frozen sprouts can be used in many delicious recipes.
- Sprout salad with roasted veggies and citrus vinaigrette
- Thai peanut sprout wraps with chicken or tofu
- Sprout omelet or frittata packed with nutrition
- Sprout stir-fry with ginger, garlic, and soy sauce over rice.
- Sprout Banh Mi sandwich with spicy aioli
- Veggie fried rice with mixed frozen sprouts
- Homemade egg noodle soup with added sprouts
- Sprout muffins or quick breads for breakfast.
Get creative with using up your frozen sprouts before they go to waste!
Frequently Asked Questions
How long do fresh bean sprouts last?
Fresh bean sprouts will keep for 3-5 days when stored in a plastic bag in the refrigerator. Rinsing sprouts daily under cold water can help extend their shelf life a bit longer. Any with signs of spoilage, like sliminess, should be discarded.
Can you freeze mung bean sprouts?
Yes, mung bean sprouts can be frozen to extend their shelf life. They will be best used in cooked recipes rather than raw ones after thawing due to texture changes during freezing.
Do bean sprouts go bad?
Yes, bean sprouts can go bad. Signs of spoiled sprouts include a slimy texture, darkening color, foul smell, visible mold, or bitter taste. Discard any sprouts with these characteristics.
How long is frozen cabbage good for?
Properly stored frozen cabbage will maintain quality for about 8–12 months in the freezer at 0°F. Freeze cabbage loose in freezer bags rather than in blocks. Blanching cabbage briefly before freezing can help it retain more texture and nutrients.
Can you refreeze thawed bean sprouts?
It is not recommended to refreeze thawed bean sprouts. Refreezing increases the risk of foodborne illness. Only freeze sprouts once, then use them within 1-2 days after thawing in the refrigerator.
Should you rinse bean sprouts before cooking?
Yes, it is recommended to rinse sprouts before use, whether cooking or eating raw. Give them a good swish under cool water to remove any debris. Pat dry thoroughly or spin to remove excess moisture before cooking or freezing.
Do frozen bean sprouts need to be cooked?
Frozen bean sprouts should always be cooked before eating. Their texture changes during freezing, becoming too soft to consume raw. Thaw sprouts in the fridge before adding them to cooked dishes like stir-fries, fried rice, and soups.
What’s the best way to thaw frozen bean sprouts?
To thaw sprouts, place the frozen package in the refrigerator overnight. For quicker thawing, place sprouts in a colander and run under cool water for 2-3 minutes until thawed. Microwaving is not recommended as it alters texture. Once thawed, use ASAP.
Can you eat bean sprouts straight from the freezer?
It is not recommended to eat frozen bean sprouts without cooking them first. The freezing process damages cell walls, leading to a mushy, unsafe-to-eat raw texture. Always cook frozen sprouts thoroughly to the proper temperature before consuming.
Hi, I’m Julie, the passionate foodie and founder of Juliesfamilykitchen.com. I created this blog out of a drive to prove someone wrong, and then I realized how much I truly enjoy cooking and trying new recipes. In my free time, when I’m not running around after my kids or spending quality time with my partner, you can usually find me in the kitchen experimenting with new dishes.