Sprouts are one of the most nutritious foods out there. When you sprout at home, they can also be some of the cleanest food produced. You can usually guarantee the quality of what you create because you oversee every step of the sprouting process. However, it’s still important to know that improper sprouting can lead to the growth of bacteria like e. coli.
The three basics you’ll need for healthy sprouting are clean seeds, clean water, and a clean sprouting dish. If you’re purchasing your sprouting seeds from a commercial supplier, those seeds have already been cleaned.
You probably won’t ever need to know how to clean the seeds, but since knowledge is power, we’re passing on this information from our supplier.
It's seems obvious but we'll say it anway; you need to start with clean supplies:
Water – it is absolutely necessary to ensure you have a clean water supply; if you're not sure that your tap water is clean use a filter or bottled water.
Sterilizing – this is the safest option, just boil items for 10 minutes.
Sanitizing – there are a number of good options for sanitizing:
- Bleach – follow the directions on the container, usually 3/4 cup of unscented bleach per gallon of water. Soak for at least 5 minutes and then rinse with clean water (see above).
- Star San – available at most brewing stores. Our supplier likes this sanitizer because it does not leave an “off flavor”. Follow directions on package.
Seeds – though generally not dangerous, seeds can actually be the start to bacteria especially when not cleaned. Commercial sprout houses typically use a 2% hypochlorite solution for 10 minutes to treat their seeds, but at these levels this procedure is not recommended for the average home user. Our supplier uses the procedure recommended by UC Davis in publication 8151.
- Heat 3% hydrogen peroxide (what you will typically find at the store) to 140°F (60°C). You really need to take your time here [and be accurate], the temperature range is key to maximizing your ability to kill bacteria, but you also want to be careful to not get the solution too hot or you will kill the seed (i.e. lower the germination).
- Put seeds in a small mesh strainer and lower them completely into the solution for 5 minutes, swirling every minute or so to ensure all seeds make contact with the peroxide.
- Rinse seeds for a minute under room temperature water and discard peroxide solution.
As mentioned earlier, if you’re getting your sprouting seeds from Emergency Essentials, you’ll never need to sanitize them. Still, it’s interesting to know what process our supplier uses and of course it’s wonderful to know that your sprouts are clean.