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Vegetarian Advice: Grow Sprouts Safely, Avoid Ecoli

Question: What's your perspective on safety when sprouting seeds?

Sprouting Seeds

Your vegetarian nutrition report mentions sprouting seeds and grains.

I got excited about growing sprouts, but in researching on the internet, I am coming up against all sorts of warnings against sprouts, Ecoli, etc.

What can you offer in the way of perspective on sprouting seeds safely? - H.R.

Savvy Vegetarian Advice

Dear H.R.,

There's no more danger from ecoli or other bacteria with growing sprouts than with any other raw foods, as long as you follow basic food safety rules:

  • Start with very clean containers and utensils, preferably glass - no plastic.
  • Rinse the seeds or beans before soaking.
  • Use purified water for rinsing and soaking.
  • Keep the soaking seeds in a cool place away from direct light.
  • Soak for no more than 12 hours.
  • Drain and rinse once or twice while soaking seeds.
  • Wash your hands before handling the sprouts.
  • Rinse several times a day while growing sprouts.
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Sprouting seeds usually goes on for 1 - 3 days, in a cool, dark corner. Expose sprouts to light for a few hours to green them at the end of sprouting. When sprouting is finished, rinse, drain well, and store in a clean plastic or glass container in the fridge.

If there's any sign of spoilage while growing sprouts - mold, weird color, bad smell etc - toss your science project and start again. Too much warmth, no air, and not enough rinsing can quickly give rise to fermentation and spoilage.

I've been making and eating sprouts for many years, following the rules outlined above, and have never had a problem, or heard about anyone else who has. We're talking vegetables here! Meat, on the other hand, is notoriously unclean and dangerous. And it can't be sprouted!

Judith Kingsbury, Savvy Vegetarian

Protein Ebook

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