The Importance of Clean Seeds when Sprouting
Sprouting seeds is a great way to have fresh, healthy vegetables at home. When sprouting seeds it is however possible to produce contaminated food without realizing it. Since you often eat these sprouts raw, any contamination will not be killed by cooking. It is crucial to sanitize seeds and equipment before use.
So it is important to make sure that the equipment you use is clean and that you use clean seeds when they begin sprouting, so that you and your family stay healthy. There have been a number of cases of serious food poisoning from commercial sprouts and it would be a mistake to think that this cannot also happen with home sprouting. If you don’t want to bother being very clean when you sprout seeds, steam or stir-fry your sprouts before eating them.
Cleaning the containers and equipment you use for sprouting is quite easy. The simplest way to do this is with dilute bleach. Mix 1 part of bleach with 9 parts of water and soak the jars and any lids for twenty minutes. Rinse well in hot water, or if you have a dish-washer, wash at the maximum heat.
Do all this immediately before you use your equipment. It is better to just rinse it after use and store until the next time and then clean just before use, than it is to clean thoroughly and then store it. It is better to use glass jars and equipment, rather than plastic for sprouting as it will stand up better to the cleaning process and hold onto less bacteria.
All of our seeds are cleaned before shipped but it is always possible that they could become contaminated somewhere along the line before they reach you. This makes seed cleaning before sprouting is a good idea. It is not possible to clean seeds by rinsing in water, as bacteria attach themselves strongly to the seed surface and cannot be simply rinsed off.
To sanitize seeds properly you need hydrogen peroxide 3% solution. This can be bought at any drugstore. You will also need an accurate thermometer, a wire strainer big enough to hold all the seeds or beans and a container big enough to immerse the strainer in.
Heat the peroxide to 140oF (60oC). The correct temperature is important. Too cool and the germs will survive, too hot and the seed will be damaged and may not germinate. Immersing the strainer for five minutes will sanitize seeds and swirling them four of five times while they are in the solution will ensure the peroxide completely contacts all parts of the seed.
Remove the strainer and rinse the cleaned seeds under cool running tap water for a minute. Throw away the peroxide solution and get sprouting with your clean seeds!