Microgreens are one of the superfoods that contribute towards several health benefits. Harvesting of microgreens requires certain steps to cater to so that you get to eat healthy microgreens for a longer time. This varies according to different microgreens.
Most of you must have found soggy and inedible greens in your refrigerator when opening it. Microgreens are susceptible to such conditions after their harvest.
This blog will enlighten you about the ways to store microgreens in a way that will save their health benefits while you consume them. Refrigerating the delicate microgreens at a consistent temperature help reap their nutritional benefits to sufficient levels.
Refrigeration, however, is just one of the storing processes of microgreens. Let’s learn more about how to store microgreens after harvest.
Once you acquaint yourself with the convenient ways to maintain the microgreens for their shelf life, you’ll be able to incorporate the same in your diet. There won’t be the need to rush to other microgreen growers or the supermarket to get them. So, let’s get you started.
How To Prepare For Storage
After the harvest period of the microgreens, which involves selected microgreens, you can chop off the green sections with a chef’s knife. You may even use scissors for this purpose.
A point to note even before you pursue a method of storage whatsoever is to ensure the microgreens are dry. Wet microgreens become soggy. This is the reason why it is recommended to avoid watering the greens 24-48 hours before harvesting.
Another method to try to dry the greens is using a paper towel to dab them dry or use a salad spinner to drain the extra moisture. Any extra moisture can make the greens mushy, soggy, and inedible. Therefore, it is essential to store them completely dry.
However, make sure not to store them for too long as well. The whole point of keeping the growing microgreens and storing them at your own risk is to keeping and consuming them fresh.
Washing and cleaning the microgreens just before you eat them is important. Make sure that the temperature of the water you wash them with is lukewarm and is clean. Too hot or too cold water may deduce the nutritional value of the greens.
Ways To Store Microgreens
You must be done with growing microgreens and harvesting them now that you’re reading through the ways to store them. You might have gone through many recipes, but you may have a stock remaining. The shelf life of the microgreens is essential for saving their nutritional value and health benefits.
Microgreens, as mentioned earlier, are susceptible to damage if their shelf life is not taken care of properly. When you carefully store microgreens, they can last up to 1-2 whole weeks, or sometimes even longer than that.
The three of the best ways to store microgreens is:
- Refrigerating in a plastic bag or container
Yes, freezing is also regarded as a way of storing microgreens. However, freezing microgreens is most helpful when you intend to consume the microgreens in the form of smoothies or shakes. Freezing the microgreens compromises the cellular structure of the green veggies.
Refrigeration is the most straightforward and simplest of the methods to store your microgreens. After harvesting the microgreens, you must dry them well using paper towels and secure them in a plastic Ziploc bag or an airtight container to prevent air circulation inside it.
Below are the tips on how you can refrigerate these plants successfully:
1. Set The Appropriate Humidity Level
Plants like microgreens are vulnerable to fluctuating humidity levels. To keep them fresh, you must ensure the environment you store them in offers the right amount of moisture to them.
You already learned that it is essential to stop watering these plants a day or two before harvesting and that they should be stored dry. Note that too dry or too wet surroundings create vulnerable conditions for the microgreens. Therefore, you need to take good care of their cleaning and drying processes.
Place a damp paper towel at the base of the container you are going to keep the microgreens in to avoid letting them dry out more than required. The damp paper towel maintains the humidity level needed by the microgreens.
In the case of an environment with excess moisture, do the exact opposite by placing a dry paper towel at the bottom of the container. This will absorb the excess water.
You must be aware of the environment around your fridge as well. Opening and closing the refrigerator door near an oven during summers may affect the lifespan of the plants inside your fridge.
2. Select The Correct Container
Storing microgreens needs the perfect condition inside and the size of the container, be it Ziploc or Tupperware. Whatever container you choose, the priority is to escape moisture to keep the freshness of the microgreens.
Glass is an excellent material to collect condensation. As such, a glass container would not be the right choice to store your microgreens. They will easily be susceptible to wetter conditions there, creating conditions for mold growth.
Plastic bags are a better alternative to store your microgreens while saving space simultaneously. However, they too have a downside which is, they are not environment-friendly.
An ideal way to store your plants is specialty bags or reusable BPA-free bags. You can email various organizations or stores for their availability or order them online.
This is an ideal way because these bags are able to absorb the gas released by longer storage of the greens, resulting in fresh greens and a longer lifespan.
3. Know Your Fridge
Knowing your fridge thoroughly helps in the microgreen storage process a great deal. Have you found yourself inserting fruits in the fridge, only to pull them out all frozen? You don’t want that to happen with your food, and definitely not with your greens.
Learn nicely as to which spots of your fridge offer cooler or warmer temperatures. For example, the cool air vent is usually at the top. Avoid storing your microgreens in that section. To find out which spot of your fridge your microgreens shall prosper in, keep track.
Conditions may vary according to the type of fridge and the settings you’ve monitored them into. You never know if the cooler vent on top is not that cold for your greens, after all. By keeping track, you’ll be aware of the different temperature conditions inside your fridge.
You can also use a thermometer to check the temperature inside your fridge. You can rest assured that your food is stored at the right temperature. 32-40 degrees Fahrenheit is the optimal temperature to keep your microgreens fresh.
4. Store The Right Amount Of Microgreens In The Container
While packing the microgreens, you should make sure that they do not have access to too much air. It will oxidize your greens.
However, you must also avoid suffocating the microgreens by cramming as much as you can inside the container. This will bruise them and trap the excess moisture within them, making them rot easier.
The container you store your microgreens in should let enough space for the leaves to maintain their respiration rate and keep them fresh.
Dehydrating is the second helpful way to store your microgreens. It is cost-effective and reaps results in the long run. Dehydrated microgreens can be consumed in the form of crunch snacks or grounded into a powder to make smoothies, soups, and shakes.
Powdered greens are great supplements to consume to maintain your daily intake of nutrient levels. You can use these powder supplements for the finicky eater at home. You may not be able to hide the veggies, but you can surely slip some microgreen powder into a soup for some additional flavor and much more nutrients.
The good news is, they are also expensive if you get them from the market. Instead, why not grow and harvest microgreens at home?
However, there are many things to keep in mind before you start dehydrating your microgreens.
1. You Must Dehydrate Them Properly
You definitely need a tool to absorb the moisture from your microgreens. Leaving them out in the sun will only encourage the growth of mold spores on them unless your living conditions are humid and dry without any insects.
If you already own a dehydrator, you are set. If not, news flash! Dehydrators are expensive. Unless you dehydrate other foods at home, you won’t quite fancy the idea of getting one of these for a single purpose.
If money is not an issue, you can surely go ahead. Otherwise, you can also dehydrate your greens in the oven. It is rather easy. However, you do need to keep an eye on them to prevent them from getting over-roasted.
While you’re in the market looking for a refrigerator thermometer, get an oven thermometer as well. Oven temperatures can fluctuate drastically. So, a thermometer will help maintain a steady temperature while dehydrating your greens.
2. How to Dehydrate Your Microgreens
Dehydrating your greens is super easy and is just the same as dehydrating fruits or veggies using the dehydrator. After dehydration, you can keep them whole or grind them into flakes or powder to sprinkle on top of soups or convert them into smoothies and shakes.
If you want to dehydrate the greens using your oven, below is the way to go about it.
- Clean your greens using a salad spinner to wash them.
- Set the oven temperature ideally between 180-200 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Check the microgreens while they stay in the oven for 6-10 hours.
These dehydrated green won’t need refrigeration anymore. You can now store them in a glass jar or any airtight container, and you’ll be all set for almost 5 years.
Is Freezing A Good Option For Storing Microgreens?
Freezing is an excellent food preservation method, starting from meat to pretty much anything. Several greens can be frozen with some processing. However, microgreens aren’t the type of food to be frozen.
You can surely put your greens into the freezer. No one can stop you from doing that! But the cold temperatures will break the cellular structures of the greens. Frozen microgreens become soggy when thawed and lose their nutritional value in the process.
You can consume frozen microgreens in smoothies to maintain their nutritional value and their original texture. To freeze your microgreens, the following are the ways to go about it.
- Wash the greens and dry them well at room temperature using paper towels.
- Spread the greens on a pan to avoid sticking them together.
- Place them in the freezer for 30-60 minutes on the clock.
- Put them in an airtight container and store them.
You can even use an ice cube tray to freeze your microgreens. You can fill the cube compartments with suitable liquid for your smoothie. This will reduce the fuss of making your smoothie, and you can directly add these ingredients to the blender.
However, it is important that you know that microgreens are best eaten fresh, raw, or dehydrated.
Are They Losing Some Nutritional Value?
Dehydrating your microgreen won’t spoil them. However, they will be prone to some loss of their nutritional value. The heating and drying processes involved in dehydration reduces the content of vitamins and minerals present in the greens.
Some of the minerals that are lost to dehydration are calcium, phosphorus, and magnesium. The microgreens also lose the content of thiamin, folate, and many more. Besides, vitamins A and C also reduce significantly if the microgreens aren’t dehydrated properly.
However, if taken proper care of in the process, the loss is pretty minimal. To combat the issue of losing the nutrient value due to dehydration, you need to take care right from microgreens harvesting to the dehydration process.
Keep the temperature during dehydration steady and low. You can use dehydrator appliances for the best results. Dehydrator temperatures can fluctuate more efficiently than standard ovens. Perhaps, this is a reason why they hold better content of nutrients intact in the microgreens than a warm oven.
Which Microgreens Stay Fresh Longer?
You get a variety of microgreen seeds in the market which gives you the option of growing varieties of microgreens at home. However, growing microgreen varieties may lose your focus from the care needed for each of them.
In terms of storage, some varieties store longer than others. The factors this variance relies on can be the microgreen seeds, growing environment, and storage conditions.
For instance, if you’ve grown radish and pea microgreens at home, you’ll find that radish microgreens seem to suspend their shelf life in about two weeks while the pea micros are insanely indestructible. Not all varieties last longer like the pea shoots.
Growing and storing the microgreens the appropriate way works a great deal in determining the longevity of microgreens. Therefore, you must opt for planting those greens whose growth and storage complement your skill level.
If you are good with plants, you may select just any type of microgreen. However, if you haven’t taken care of almost every plant you’ve ever grown, you must avoid choosing to grow finicky greens, like flax. It would only add to your pressure.
Microgreens that are difficult to grow carry more moisture. For instance, chia microgreens form a gel when contacted with water. The easy-to-grow microgreens have relatively larger seeds. This makes it convenient to plant them. They are also resilient enough to handle water and temperature fluctuations.
Radish microgreens taste spicy and peppery, just like radishes. They are relatively easy to grow, and their longevity is medium, depending on the measures taken to store them. Some similar microgreens are cabbage and spinach microgreens.
They are mild in taste, almost like their bigger vegetable counterparts. These need extra care to ensure a longer storage life.
Amaranth microgreens are beet-like tasting plants that need your special care to keep them fresh for a longer period. Similarly, chia microgreens are easily vulnerable to damage if not taken care of properly.
It is important to note that the life span of the microgreens depends on how you store them and the care taken in their growing stages.
The shelf life of microgreens, as you are well aware of now, depends on the growing conditions and the storage conditions. People often resort to growing microgreen seeds because they are relatively easier to grow than their bigger counterparts.
However, growing microgreen crops requires commitment and knowledge about that certain plant, along with their growing needs.
Once you acquaint yourself with the tips and tactics to grow and store the microgreens at home, you’ll be able to maintain stocks of fresh leafy veggies, make salads with lettuce and both leaves.
The microgreens storage highly depends on the source of the plant seeds as well. Therefore, once you have all the mentioned factors sorted, you can expect the sufficient shelf life of your microgreens.
James Fields is the founder of Gardener to Farmer. His passion for gardening goes back to his childhood days when he would visit his grandfather during the holidays and help him with the plants in the backyard. This has now translated to creating a dependable resource for gardening.