When you examine your batch of microgreens, the best way to spot the bad ones is to rely on your senses of sight, smell, and touch. Deteriorating microgreens typically have wilting leaves, discoloration, mushy stems, and foul odor. Also, because of weak stems, they tend to fall over shortly after germination.
Over the past 20 years, homegrown microgreens have become popular among many health-conscious people like you. As you continue to read, you will learn:
- What causes microgreens to go bad
- Whether bad microgreens are edible
- How to deal with the questionable ones
- How to prevent them from going bad.
What Makes Microgreens Go Bad?
There are several reasons why microgreens go bad, but mold and fungus are the most common offenders. Other causes include weak or long stems, slow germination, clumpy growth, dirty plants, and rotting roots. By taking the proper precautions during the growing, harvesting, and storing periods, all these causes are avoidable.
Why Do These Causes Occur?
Most of the causes for bad microgreens originate from poor growing and storing practices, such as:
- Lack of sunlight
- Bad moisture control
- Poor ventilation
- Tight growing spaces
Other factors to consider are bad seeds, sweltering temperatures, too much pressure during top watering, late harvesting, and unsanitary equipment and supplies.
How Do I Spot Mold on My Microgreens?
When you look into a tray of microgreens, it is hard to tell the difference between root hairs and mold. The significant difference is the fuzzy-white root hairs extend from the actual roots while the dull-colored mold spreads like a spider web throughout the batch, independent of the roots. Unlike the moisture-absorbing root hairs, mold causes cell degeneration and spoilage.
What Makes My Microgreens Smell?
The primary culprits of smelly microgreens are stem rot and mold. Due to overwatering, poor airflow, fluctuating temperatures, and other factors, the foul smell is a byproduct of the mold and bacteria feeding off the plant’s live cells. It is an effective sign that the microgreens are decaying and becoming unusable.
Why Are My Microgreens Falling Over?
In stark contrast to their healthy tray mates, weak microgreens begin to fall when they are sick and dying. While struggling to survive in a poor growing environment, these plants lose the battle for nutrients to fungus and bacteria. This nutrient deficit makes them weak and vulnerable to collapse, mold, and rot.
How Do Weak and Leggy Stems Hurt Microgreens?
Low or uneven light will cause microgreens to grow extra-long stems during the photosynthesis phase. Consequently, the plants expend vital energy and nutrients needed to stand erect and maintain health. Also, some microgreens like chives and amaranth have naturally thin stems, making them extremely hard to grow and manage.
Why Does Slow Germination Cause Microgreens to Go Bad?
Germination periods of two to three days help develop healthy microgreens with robust immune systems and mold fighting properties. Some plants may germinate a few days longer, but you should see some activity from these plants shortly after their first exposure to sunlight. As a rule, extended germination periods significantly decrease microgreens’ chances of survival.
How Can I Deal with Root and Stem Rot?
If you detect a dank smell around your microgreens, you should immediately remove all the affected plants before the rot spreads to the entire batch. These rotten plants are completely inedible and belong in the trash. Also, you can save the rest of the batch by monitoring the temperature, ventilation, and humidity in your growing area.
How is Overseeding a Problem?
Within the confines of the growing trays, microgreen seedlings compete for water, nutrients, space, and light. Many growers try to get a higher yield rate by over-seeding their trays, but they assume an increased risk of late germination and clumping. Plus, to avoid overseeding, you should consider the grown-out volume, the seed size, and the gummy characteristics of the plants.
Why Is Clumpy Growth a Problem?
Bunching microgreen seeds together causes an overaccumulation of moisture and restricted airflow. Consequently, this kind of growing environment can promote mold growth and other problems, especially among mucilaginous seeds like basil, flaxseed, and chia. When wet, these seeds form a sticky, gooey coating that binds dirt to the sprouting plant.
Are Bad Microgreens Safe to Eat?
Microgreens can hold plenty of bacteria and other pathogens on their skins. Since these contaminants can cause severe illness or death, you should not eat microgreens with signs of mold or rot under any circumstances. Also, reviewing your growing procedures may help you avoid this problem in the future.
How Long Can You Store Microgreens Before They Go Bad?
If you grow, cut, and refrigerate your own microgreens, they may last about two weeks on average. Some robust varieties like scallions, pea tendrils, and sunflowers can store up to three weeks, while the more fragile plants may survive around five days. To prolong freshness, keep your plants in dry, airtight containers.
Can Microgreens Be Bad in Other Ways?
By eating raw microgreens, you could get food-borne illnesses caused by Salmonella, E-Coli, and fungi. In addition, these plants can harbor pesticides, fungicides, and other harmful chemicals. Errors in growing, harvesting, and food preparation can introduce these harmful pathogens to your microgreen batches.
What If I’m Unsure About the State of My Microgreens?
To kill mold growing on your microgreens, spray them with a medium mixture of hydrogen peroxide, white vinegar, and water. However, you should not eat any questionable plants in their raw state. You can kill most harmful microorganisms and germs by washing and cooking your microgreens thoroughly.
How Do I Prevent My Microgreens from Going Bad?
To prevent your microgreens from going bad, you should always maintain good sanitary practices. Additionally, you should:
- Buy quality seeds,
- Water your microgreens twice a day
- Control the temperature,
- Regulate seed density
- Constantly ventilate your growing area.
You can also increase your ability to produce vigorous, healthy plants by investing in a cheap dehumidifier – it’ll set you back $50, but it’s a solid investment for improving the health of your microgreens.