Sprouts grown at home present the same risk of bacterial contamination and foodborne illnesses as commercially grown raw sprouts, since most outbreaks have been attributed to contaminated seeds. If harmful bacteria are present in or on the seed to be grown, they can multiply to high levels during sprouting even under clean conditions. Furthermore, even pathogen-free seeds and sprouting material can become contaminated at home.
To limit the risk of growing harmful bacteria when sprouting, here are some good sprouting practices to follow.
- Buy your seeds from reputable seed companies.
- Before you begin sprouting your seeds, prepare them as follows:
Heat a solution of 3% hydrogen peroxide (available at most drug stores) to 140°F (60°C) on the stovetop.
Use a clean cooking thermometer to monitor temperature during treatment to ensure that it remains at 140°F for the entire procedure.
Use a small mesh strainer to hold the seeds and immerse it directly into the heated peroxide solution for five minutes. Swirl the strainer to achieve uniform treatment.
Discard peroxide solution after each seed batch as its effectiveness will rapidly decline.
- Rinse seeds under clean running water for 1 minute.
Place rinsed seeds in a container with enough clean water to cover the seed plus one inch. Skim off all floating seed, seed coat fragments, and other debris and dispose of them as they are potential sources of contamination.
- Sprout seeds in clean, sanitized jars according to instructions provided in NOW® Sprouting Jars, away from areas of food preparation, pets, and high household traffic.
We recommend that you use NOW® Citric Acid to help inhibit the formation of mold and other bacteria during the sprouting process.
To sanitize sprouting jars, use bleach and follow the directions on the bleach container (use plain, unscented bleach) for sanitizing kitchen surfaces. Use 3⁄4 cup of bleach per gallon of water (3 tablespoons per quart) and soak the jar and lid/mesh for at least 5 minutes. Then rinse with clean water.
- Once sprouted, enjoy your nutritious sprouts raw or cooked.
Try different type of seeds for different flavors and benefits (NOW Alfalfa, Broccoli, Mung Beans, and Zesty Sprouting Mix).
Raw sprouts are not intended for individuals with weakened immune system due to age or medical conditions.
This information is adapted from recommendations published by the Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources at University of California.
For more information about food safety and/or sprouting: