Bean sprouts

I would like to introduce you to my bean sprouts. I would give them all names if this wasn’t a proper farming enterprise in which sentimentality has no place. Anyway, they’re destined for the pot after three days so there’s hardly time to get to know them as there would be with chicks or piglets.

This is the final piece of the self-sufficiency jig-saw – that is to say, I am now able to survive without going ashore for a hundred days.

I carry 230 litres of water and can get by comfortably on 2.2litres a day.

I bake my own bread once I’ve exhausted the astonishing longevity of Kingsmill’s 50/50 sliced variety. The boat is full of canned beer and tinned food – and, of course, Pink Lady apples seem to have discovered the secret of immortality.

That left only two essentials – salads and fresh vegetables.

So, welcome to mung beans.

You may remember that on the self-isolation cruise back in April and May, I complained that these refused to germinate after three years – they just went a funny colour and started to smell. Now I have a new bag. In fact, the smallest I could find in the Amazon store was 1kg which seemed an awful lot considering I need only a tablespoonful a day – and not every day at that.

I have three little plastic pots with 2.5mm holes drilled in the screw tops. A spoonful of beans just covers the bottom of the pot. Soak them for 24 hours and then drain the excess water into yesterday’s pot… and from there into the one started the day before that…

It’s perpetual motion. In three or four days, that tablespoonful which just covered the bottom of the pot will be filling it right to the top – even poking its little pale green tendrils through the holes in a bid for freedom.

Bean sprouts are, of course, full of all the goodness you would get from lettuce or broccoli so I souse them in salad dressing or throw them in the pot at the end of cooking. The best thing about this is that there is none of the guilt you get with lobsters – all that screaming…

Bean sprouts are mute.

But the greatest discovery is that they are just as good a gherkins in my trademark mayonnaise, gherkin and HP sauce sandwiches. The problem with gherkins is the bulk and the weight of all those enormous jars. Bean sprouts taste just as good and you still get that satisfying crunch with the first bite. Also, they’re always fresh so they don’t go soft over time.

Flushed with this success, I plan to branch out and experiment with alfalfa sprouts. Meanwhile, I hope this has been useful. I had thought of telling you why I am sitting in a ria in NW Spain instead of with the family in Portugal but that seemed pretty dull stuff, full off complaints about quarantine regulations.

But bean sprouts… you have to admit it: Bean sprouts are exciting…

14 Responses to Bean sprouts

  • That’s fantastic! I remember meeting a nomadic guy who lived off the land in New Zealand and he had a similar system going on in his back pack! He would catch a wild trout and eat better than most of us do in so called civilisation 🙂

  • I think you could add some sardines and make it really interesting. Unless you have eaten them all

  • Very inventive and thoroughly enjoyed reading….! You could spice them up with a few chilli flakes on the sandwich? Might make you thirsty for more beer….not a bad thing?

  • John

    Gosh. Bean Sprouts? Not very tasty.
    Before you go on the adventure please get some herbs, like dill. Add to bread mix, a bit of baking soda and hey – beautiful dill dough.


  • Got to recommend the alfalfa. Highly nutritious! If you really get into sprouting I get the biosnacky pack from A. Vogel. Really amazing what you can grow from a few small packs of seeds and a covering of water. Take care.

    • I agree, I’ve been sprouting Alfalfa for years, I love it, and so easy to grow in a sprouting jar or just a jar with a sock and elastic band! I love it in a sandwich.

  • Hi John, been out in the sun too long?? PS: give my regards to the beans.

  • John, an excellent lesson in alternative cooking. At the end of all this there will be enough material for another book. I have just enjoyed Trident and am trying to compose a review.

  • Very healthy apparently, full of nutrients at this early stage of life.

  • This seems an amazing way of getting fresh food and I wonder how many other yachties have discovered this. I must pass this on..
    Here’s to you Old Man Sailing for many delightful years to come.


  • Hi John,

    I was just thinking that while we are enjoying Boris Eat well for less I will be thinking of you tucking in to a bean sprout sandwich.
    However I will not feel smug because I know that you will be getting a huge buzz of satisfaction and I will feel a cheapskate.

    Bon voyage


  • Well done you!