Green shoots and sprouts are seeds of vegetables, legumes, cereals, grasses, or nuts and seeds that are germinated and picked a few days/weeks after they have germinated, before they become plants in their own right.
The 2 terms, “sprouts” and “shoots” are frequently misunderstood. In the case of sprouts, seeds are allowed to germinate for a few days in a little water. The nutrients present in the seed are therefore used exclusively to grow. In the case of shoots, seeds are allowed to germinate in potting soil or on synthetic tissue. A fertilizer solution is added to ensure growth, as the nutrients in the seed are not enough.
These “mini-vegetables” contain a lot of nutrients (vitamins, minerals and fiber) in concentrated forms and in very small portions. In addition, they make certain foods more digestible (e.g. legumes), as well as bring color, freshness and various textures to dishes.
The environment in which they are grown (hot and humid) is conducive to the proliferation of bacteria such as e. coli and salmonella. It is therefore important to respect the expiry date for these foods and not to buy or consume shoots that seem wilted or slimy. Rinse them well and also wash your hands before touching them to avoid contamination.
More and more shoots and sprouts of different kinds can be found on supermarket shelves. The most common types are alfalfa, which are found with the fresh herbs and soybean sprouts, which are found with the vegetables. In reality, they are called the latter but should rather be called “mung bean sprouts”.
Soybean sprouts can only be kept for a few days in the fridge. It is therefore necessary to consume them quickly after purchase. Other shoots can be kept for a week in the fridge if purchased fresh enough. If they come in a plastic tray they should be conserved as they are and rinsed only before use.
They are most often eaten raw, in salads, sandwiches, wraps, or as a topping for soups and stir-frys. They have different tastes and textures. For example, the shoots and sprouts of mustard and radish have a slightly spicy taste, while the shoots of peas are slightly sweet, with a herb flavor. Soybeans, on the other hand, are often very crunchy and slightly sweet, so they are delicious when added raw to salads or at the end of the cooking time in Asian stir-frys.
Try some of our recipes featuring green shoots and sprouts: