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!
- 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.
- After soaking your seeds, skim off anything floating on the surface. Research has shown that these “floaters” may be more likely to grow bacteria.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Remove excess water. Dry sprouts with a clean paper towel or use a fine mesh salad spinner.
- Wash your sprouting dish after each use and before you start sprouting.