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  • How to Clean Seeds for Sprouting

    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.

    Sprouting vessel – whether using a jar, sprout tray, or hemp bag ensure that you have either sterilized, or at least sanitized, all items that will come into contact with your seeds and sprouts.

    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.

    1. 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).
    2. 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.
    3. 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.

    Go sprout!

  • Clean Sprouting Every Time

    The last thing you wanted to read about this week was another e. coli outbreak. Luckily, this one happened two summers ago (2011), but we’re writing about it now because e. coli outbreaks are a real danger. In the 2011 German outbreak, definitively linked to unclean sprouts, 3,000 people got sick (some of them got sick enough to be put in quarantine) and 29 died.

    Bean Sprouts

    The likelihood of e. coli coming from your homegrown sprouts is fairly low. If you are diligent at thoroughly washing the sprouting dish after each use, and washing your hands each time you handle the sprouts, you are well ahead of the game. But, because sprouts are a fresh, raw product, you should know that infection is possible, even if it is unlikely.

    The first, and probably best, tip is this: if your sprouts look slimy, or smell weird – don’t eat them! (That means you, Dad. No rinsing it off and pretending it’s ok.) There is one exception; broccoli sprouts produce sulfaraphane which is thought to have anti-cancer properties. Sulfaraphane smells like—you guessed it—sulfur and that’s normal for broccoli sprouts.


     Follow these seven easy steps and get delicious, fresh, clean sprouts – every time!

    1. Wash your hands every time you handle the seeds or sprouts – do it right, don’t give it the quick rinse.  A bit of hand sanitizer after a good wash is not a bad idea either.
    2. After soaking your seeds, skim off anything floating on the surface.  Research has shown that these “floaters” may be more likely to grow bacteria.
    3. Rinse your seeds/sprouts. No matter what sprouting method you use, rinse your seeds/sprouts frequently with clean water. At least twice a day is recommend, 3 to 4 times a day is better. Keeping the seeds/sprouts moist allows them to germinate, and rinsing them frequently helps keep bacteria from growing.
    4. Completely drain your seeds/sprouts after each rinse.  Rinsing is key to safety. Standing water can lead to mold and bacteria so get rid of the excess.
    5. As sprouts develop use a clean fork to break up the sprouts before rinsing, as you rinse allow any seed hulls or other “floaters” to rinse out.
    6. After your sprouts have fully developed do a final rinse in a clean bowl. Use a clean fork, or your clean hands, to remove any final floaters or other non-sprout material.
    7. Remove excess water. Dry sprouts with a clean paper towel or use a fine mesh salad spinner.
    8. Wash your sprouting dish after each use and before you start sprouting.

    You can store sprouts in a clean bag or other sealed container in the refrigerator, but… sprouts are more delicious and nutritious when they’re fresh. Don’t wait for more than a couple of days to enjoy the fruits of your sprouting labor!

    Here’s something you probably didn’t know. Sometimes you may need to clean the seeds themselves. If you’re purchasing commercial sprouting seeds, and most of us are, those seeds have already been cleaned. Here are instructions on how to clean sprout seeds, in case you’re interested.

    For more information about sprouting, and tasty recipes, get a copy of The Sprouting Book. It’s an easy, informative read on how to grow and use sprouts. The book also discusses many of the health benefits from incorporating sprouts into your diet. Sprouts be a nutrition-packed boost to your daily diet and sprouting seeds are an invaluable addition to your food storage.

    If you’re ready to start sprouting, Emergency Essentials offers several varieties of sprouting seeds and sprouting dishes. These seeds are clean and packaged for long-term storage. If we’ve said it once, we’ve said it a thousand times, and we mean it. You can enjoy sprouts now or in years to come!

    Sprout on, my friends. Sprout on. 

  • 10 Year Sprouting Test

    One of our customers, Walt, shared his experience with sprouting 10 year old sprouting seeds. We thought you might be interested to hear how it went.

    “(I) purchased (sprouting seeds) in 1999 just in case Y2K took a dive. I opened the alfalfa seeds to see if they were still good after ten years and had more sprouts then I needed. To sprout the seeds I soaked them for 8 hours - then used the kitchen sprouter (3/4 of a pound of seeds) in two trays on the counter top. I found out when they sprouted it was too much - had more then I could handle, the rest went into a friends garden and they sprouted. I would say about 90% to 95% of the seeds sprouted. As far as storage, that varied over the ten years; put in a box marked food storage with the temperature from 40 degrees to 90 degrees.”

    Remember to store seeds in as cool a location as possible (even the refrigerator or freezer if possible). This can greatly increase the shelf life.

    We love to hear success stories like this one! Send your experience to blog@beprepared.com, so we can share it with everyone else (don’t forget photos if you have any).

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