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I am the new proud owner of more fenugreek seeds than I will ever use as a spice, so I thought I'd try my hand at sprouting. I have no idea if I will enjoy sprouting or if I will like fenugreek sprouts so I don't want to spend any money on a special tray or anything like that at this point. From what I have read (most notably, this: http://sproutpeople.org/fenugreek.html) it looks like I can just use a big jar with a screen lid. Wouldn't cheesecloth secured with a rubber band do the trick?

Also, I've been warned that there is a salmonella risk in sprouting. What precautions should I take?

Any other sage advice for a novice to sprouting?

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Per the Foodsafety.gov, since sprouts must necessarily be grown in warm and humid conditions, they are unique among produce items in presenting a risk of food born illness.

Since 1996, there have been at least 30 reported outbreaks of foodborne illness associated with different types of raw and lightly cooked sprouts. Most of these outbreaks were caused by Salmonella and E. coli.

You will have to decide whether you feel this level of risk is acceptable to you.

They suggest the only real mitigation is thoroughly cooking the spouts.

Savvy Vegetarian suggests:

  • 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.

However, I am not sure I can concur with their assertion that these precautions render spouts as safe as any other produce, as only spouts are grown in warm, moist conditions.

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    +1 for good info as always. I gotta say though, at least 30 cases since 1996? That doesn't exactly cause fear in my heart. There have been more confirmed cases in the US of Bubonic Plague since then.
    – Jolenealaska
    Oct 11, 2013 at 22:02
  • I've always used basically the procedure suggested by Savvy Vegetarian (except for using tap water instead of purified. Ahh, the added safety of chlorine!) I would also suggest using plastic aida cloth (such as is used for cross stitch and latch hook) cut to fit inside the ring of a jar lid. It's one less absorbent thing to be harboring bacteria.
    – SourDoh
    Oct 11, 2013 at 22:06
  • @Jolenealaska It says 30 outbreaks, not 30 cases. An outbreak generally means the produce from a farm was contaminated, and given the scale of modern agriculture, that means potentially contaminated food across the US.
    – Cascabel
    Oct 11, 2013 at 22:16
  • I don't get the sense that there is a huge risk at home, but you should be aware that there is a risk, and mitigate it to the extent reasonably possible if you choose to accept it.
    – SAJ14SAJ
    Oct 11, 2013 at 22:25
  • @sourd'oh - Good point about the absorbency. I've got an extra plastic colander, how about just laying that (straight out of the dishwasher) over the jar?
    – Jolenealaska
    Oct 11, 2013 at 22:37

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