Microgreens have many health benefits and are widely considered safe to eat. Their biggest safety concern is the risk of food poisoning.
Microgreens have boomed in popularity these past few years because of their stellar health benefits. Besides having more nutrients than their full-grown counterparts, they can even prevent chronic diseases!
But are there things you should worry about when it comes to growing and eating microgreens? Read on to learn all about microgreen safety!
How do you eat microgreens safely?
You don’t eat the roots of microgreens. Roots are at the highest risk of having mold. By not eating the root, you are cutting down on the risk of your microgreens being unsafe to eat.
Do I need special seeds to grow microgreens safely?
When a plant grows fully, the chemicals that were on the seeds don’t matter because they are consumed and purified by the plant. But when you’re eating a plant that is so young, it won’t have enough time to rid itself of the toxic chemicals from its seed.
The first step is buying organic seeds, but you can take other preventative measures as well, such as sanitizing your seeds.
How do I sanitize my microgreen seeds?
Sanitizing your seeds reduces the risk of your microgreens developing mold. It also washes off any chemical coatings on your seeds.
Add a teaspoon of food-grade hydrogen peroxide into your water when you soak your seeds. Let them soak for about an hour, and then rinse them a few times with clean water.
This will kill any bacteria on your seeds and wash off chemicals.
Should I buy microgreens from the store that are already washed?
Buying microgreens that are already washed is a double edge sword.
On the one hand, they have been commercially cleaned and you won’t have to wash them again at home. On the other hand, they typically have sooner expiration dates because the extra moisture spoils them faster.
Are some microgreens more dangerous than others?
Some microgreens are more prone to making you sick than others due to the compounds they contain.
Tomatoes, eggplants, and potatoes contain solanine. Solaline can make you sick if you eat too much of it.
Similarly, oxalic acid is found in kale, spinach, and rhubarb. But you would need to eat a very large quantity to get sick.
Fagopyrin makes your skin extra sensitive to sunlight and is found in buckwheat microgreens, although only in trace amounts.
All of these microgreens would have to be eaten in very large servings to make you sick, but if you are extra wary, these are the ones to avoid.
How do I know if my microgreens went bad?
The main reasons microgreens go bad is because of mold or fungus.
Some signs of this include: root or stem rot, dirt present while harvesting, uneven growth, plants that fall over, weak plants, yellow colors, slow germination, or visible fungus or mold.
These signs are all caused by spoilage germs. These are different from the pathogens that cause food borne illnesses.
What is the difference between spoilage germs and pathogens?
Pathogens make you sick and spoilage germs spoil your food. For the most part, pathogens don’t create a bad smell or taste in food.
This means that if pathogens are present without spoilage germs, there will be no signs that your microgreens are unsafe.
This is why you have to follow food safety guidelines such as following directions on store bought containers, using clean utensils, and growing your microgreens properly.
Which pathogens cause food borne illnesses?
One pathogen that causes food borne illnesses is Bacillus Cereus. This pathogen is particularly dangerous because it can survive typical heating temperatures. It is best if your food is stored below 40 degrees F, so it is important to put microgreens in the fridge directly after harvesting.
E. Coli is the main concern when it comes to microgreens. The best way to get rid of E. Coli is to wash your microgreens under running water.
Salmonella is famous for being in raw chicken and eggs, but it can affect microgreens as well.
How do microgreen farmers keep their crops safe?
Microgreens have been subject to a few recalls, so growers have gone out of their way to experiment with different ways of keeping their crops safe.
The main limitation is that microgreens deteriorate rapidly after harvest- they lose nutrients, decay, wilt, and dehydrate.
Researchers have tried many methods of improving the safety and quality of microgreens after harvest. These include temperature control, modified atmosphere packaging, and calcium treatments.
Along with these practices, farmers practice regular food safety guidelines such as sanitizing surfaces, wearing gloves, keeping moisture at a safe level, and more.
Which microgreen is the best for you?
Broccoli microgreens have the highest amount of nutrients out of any microgreen. They have 550% of your cumulative daily nutrients.
They have high levels of Vitamin A, B, C, and K, as well as phosphorus, magnesium, and iron.
Broccoli microgreens also have high levels of antioxidants.
Other microgreens that deserve honorable mentions include pea shoots, radish sprouts, and sunflower shoots. But all microgreens are incredibly healthy and have higher nutritional values than their full-grown counterparts.
How do you grow microgreens?
There are 7 steps to growing microgreens.
- Read the instructions on your seed packet.
- Soak your seeds with water and a teaspoon of food-grade hydrogen peroxide.
- Cover the bottom of your container with an inch of moist potting soil.
- Scatter the seeds on top of the soil evenly.
- Cover the seeds with a thin layer of soil and dampen the soil with a mister.
- Use the mister once or twice a day to keep the soil moist but not soaked.
- Once the first true set of leaves have appeared, harvest your microgreens by cutting them close to the soil with scissors.
It is wise to plant more microgreens a few days after you plant your first batch so you will have a continuous supply.