Got E. coli in those sprouts? Not if you grow your own!

It seems like we hear more and more news about E. coli contamination in our food, and it really bothers me when it’s in foods that people can easily grow at home.  Even if you have livestock and an open sewage disposal system like a septic lagoon, unless you invite strangers to poop on your crops, and as long as you pay attention to food safety, you’ll be fine! 

I’ve never been one to worry a lot about E. coli, but then again, I’ve never been sick with it, either.  I have, however, opened a store-bought pack of ready-to-eat alfalfa sprouts and thought “That doesn’t smell right” on occasion, even years ago before E. coli contamination was a common problem.  Ever since I’ve known how easy it is to grow sprouts at home, I’ve done it.  It’s cheap, easy, fun, nutritious, and it’s totally free from E. coli as long as you wash everything, including your hands, appropriately.  You can get the seeds at a local healthfood store or even where they have a great sampler – I would recommend that if you’re new to sprouts, so you can see what you like before committing to a large quantity of one kind of seed.

Let’s start with some mung beans this time:

Put a couple of tablespoons (three at the most), in a quart-sized, clean canning jar.

Cover the beans with a couple of cups of clean, fresh water and soak them overnight in a dark place at room temperature (I do it in a kitchen cabinet).  After the soak, pour the water out – there are lids you can buy for this purpose, (which is what I use) or you can use cheesecloth or any perforated lid – and rinse every 8 to 12 hours.  After you dump the initial soaking water out, rinse the seeds and drain the jar mostly, then lay the jar on its side in the same dark place.  Don’t be meticulous at getting the water out – just get most of it out by shaking the jar over the sink.  This is when that perforated lid or cheesecloth is crucial.

At first, you won’t see much change, but within 24 to 48 hours, there will be change as they sprout.  There should be little or no odor at this point.  As they sprout, they will start to smell really fresh.  When they are of a size where you think “Hmm… I should eat these” – 3 to 5 days depending on type of seed and temperature of your house – rinse them one last time, drain them, and then either eat them or store them in the fridge in a container.  I dry mine a bit on a cloth napkin first, and then I eat a bunch before storing them.

This is just one way to eat stuff you love without worrying about E. coli… there will be more coming soon about protecting your outdoor vegetable garden from E. coli and other nastiness.  Since I sat down to write this blog, there has undoubtedly been another food recall for bacteria of some sort, so please take it seriously.  No one wants to get sick from something so easily preventable



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