got some mixed baby sprouts (clover, radish, pea, etc) in my produce box. do i need to wash them before eating? what's the best way?

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9 Comments

Jean |. April 3, 2011
Betteirene said it all so well! I'll only add that I am a diehard sprouts fan from way back, and I have completely stopped eating sprouts! Not worth the risk.
 
Jake April 2, 2011
Wash them as you use them. If you're only using half, take that amount out and submerge in cold water, shake around and let drip dry on towel. Don't serve them wet. We get sprouts all the time from organic farms and they ALWAYS recommend washing first. Don't be scared of pathogens if you trust where you got them.
 
boulangere March 31, 2011
Alternatively, sprout your own in small quantities, refrigerate appropriately, and use up.
 
latoscana March 31, 2011
Why risk getting sick, or making your guests or family sick? The issue isn't the wonderful, conscientious people who grow your produce, it's the bad bacteria, fungi, and parasites that live in and around real plants, real soil, and real packing containers. It's so simple to wash and dry just before eating, it doesn't make sense not to.
 
Sam1148 March 31, 2011
Rinse then soak them a bit in water with a tsp or 2 of white vinegar will kill any nasties.
Drain on a towel or a strainer over a bowl in fridge.

Rinse and use. Only clean what you use.
I normally don't rinse the vinegar wash, just drain and pay dry, as it adds a nice a flavor to the sprouts.
 
SKK March 31, 2011
I agree with macollins, I do the same with my sprouts. Also, since you know where they are coming from - your CSA - you can have confidence in their cleanliness. I am assuming your CSA uses organic seeds. Every year I go to Optimum Health Insitute in Austin, TX. They raise their own sprouts and serve them several times a day and have never had an incident with pathogens.

By the way, I love the bite of radish sprouts! Enjoy
 
betteirene March 31, 2011
Sprouts are on the Top 10 list of riskiest foods that carry Salmonella and/or E. coli 0157:H7.

Many grocery stores have stopped carrying fresh sprouts, and you rarely see them offered any more on cafe sandwiches or at salad bars--in the past 10 years, there have been almost 40 nationwide outbreaks of foodborne illness and at least one death traced to sprouts of different seeds.

Though you probably trust your supplier, you need to also trust their supplier, as it's highly unlikely that your local farmer harvested his own seeds to make sprouts for you. Most often, the pathogens come from seeds that haven't been disinfected before they are made to sprout. One of the reasons Salmonella is common in sprout outbreaks is that bacteria can remain “alive” on surfaces (such as a sprout seed) for years.

Sometimes, the sprouts pick up pathogens in the production process; Bacteria can live on equipment, plumbing fixtures, growing containers, in water, or other places where sprouts grow. Raw sprouts are grown in a moist, humid environment and are watered frequently, which is also ideal for the growth of Salmonella, Listeria and E. coli.

You can't cook your sprouts: Sprouts from the seeds you've listed will be destroyed if they're cooked hot enough and long enough to destroy the pathogens that carry a risk of foodborne illness. Seeds and beans need warm and humid conditions to sprout and grow, and these conditions are also ideal for the growth of the big three pathogens.

Rinsing sprouts first could help, but it will not remove all pathogens. The FDA and all local health departments say that rinsing does not help at all, and add the standard advisory that children, the elderly, pregnant women, and persons with weakened immune systems should avoid eating raw sprouts of any kind (including alfalfa, clover, radish, and mung bean sprouts).

That said, you know what is the #1 vegetable on the risky foods list put out by the Centers for Disease Control? Leafy greens. That doesn't scare me enough to make me want to stop eating them, though.

 
macollins March 31, 2011
Yes, wash them, especially if they are going to be eaten raw. Regardless of how they were grown, they still have the potential to hold harmful bacteria.

Wash only what you need, just before you use it. Keep the rest in the fridge. I put sprouts in a fine mesh strainer to wash them and then shake it to dry them off.
 
nutcakes March 31, 2011
I wouldn't wash, it will make it rot faster. The seeds and pulses are washed and soaked as part of sprouting them.
 
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