How to store your microgreens for a longer shelf life

Summary:

Microgreens are the tiny new leaves of a great variety of plants, from radishes to cilantro to broccoli. Small and mighty, microgreens pack a lot of antioxidants in a tiny package and are a great way to spice up your meals. The problem with microgreens is that they are extremely delicate, and it is imperative that you store them carefully to ensure the longest possible shelf life.

Methods of Storage

There are several storage methods available to make your microgreens last, and depending on the type you grow, and the way your refrigerator is set up, you may have better luck with one over the other. Experiment to see what works best for you and the microgreens that you have grown.

Container Method

Although each specific microgreen is slightly different, there are three containers that work well for storing microgreens: clamshells, glass bowls, and Tupperware.

  • Many gardeners, especially those that are selling their microgreens to local restaurants, assert that clamshells seem to be the best at preserving freshness and taste. They have enough room and air circulation to keep the greens fresh. One problem with clamshells, however, is that single-use plastic containers are bad for the environment.
  • Glass bowls also work well to store microgreens, but the longer the greens are kept in the refrigerator, the more condensation builds upon the glass, which could ultimately affect the freshness of the product.
  • Tupperware containers are a good compromise: they are reusable, and they also keep the microgreens fresh and delicious for several weeks.

Plastic Bag Method

The plastic bag method is a cheaper alternative to containers, but still not an environmentally friendly one. The bag offers a good container for the greens and will keep them fresh for several weeks. If using a plastic bag, make sure that the microgreens are totally dry before you store them. You could also wrap them in paper towels so they do not deteriorate due to moisture. Most experts say the bag needs to have air circulation and should not be closed all the way.

How long do microgreens last after harvesting?

In general, the faster you eat microgreens after harvest, the more nutrients they contain and the better they will taste. Microgreens can last about 12-14 days after harvesting if refrigerated and stored correctly. They are the type of product that declines exponentially in taste and texture as time goes on, so the sooner you eat them the better. Eating them within a few days of harvesting would offer the best results.

What microgreens have a long storage life?

Since microgreens are basically the “baby” version of a variety of different vegetables, they all react differently to storage. Pea shoots, for example, seem nearly indestructible and will last up to three weeks in the refrigerator. Other “hardy” microgreens last longer as well, such as lentil microgreens.

What microgreens have a short storage life?

There are also some tender microgreens that are extremely delicate and sensitive to deterioration. Radishes fall into this category, as well as spindly microgreens such as sprouts.

What to watch for…

  • Where microgreens are placed in the refrigerator matters. The top shelf will cause greens to spoil faster, but you will find more consistently positive results on one of the lower shelves.
  • Humidity matters. Too much humidity will cause your greens to spoil faster. Too little humidity and they will dry out too fast.
  • 40 degrees is the optimum temperature for microgreens to prevent mold growth and to keep them fresh.

How do I know if my microgreens are bad to eat?

There are several ways to know if your microgreens are bad to eat.

  • Look for signs of mold or fungus. This is a sure way to tell your greens are past their prime.
  • Give them the sniff test. Microgreens start to smell bad when they are no longer viable.
  • Look for mushy stems. The first sign of microgreens going bad will begin at the stem level.

General storage tips:

  • Cut microgreens carefully using a sharp knife or scissors. This will ensure that they do not bruise or spoil too fast.
  • If microgreens need to be washed, wash them in cold water and then spin them dry to retain their shape. Storing the microgreens dry is extremely important.
  • Put the microgreens on paper towels or terry cloth to dry them out sufficiently.
  • Microgreens last the longest if they are in an enclosed container with room to breathe.
  • Plastic tends to prolong microgreen life, as glass builds up too much moisture.
  • Do not plan on storing microgreens for a week. Eat them sooner for the best possible taste and crunch!

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