Microgreens are safer than sprouts because sprouts are grown by being soaked in water which can harbor dangerous bacteria and mold. Microgreens are grown in the soil or hydroponically and have less of a risk of developing bacteria or mold because the environment is less wet.
Do you love microgreens and sprouts but have some concerns about their safety? Read on to learn why microgreens are safer than sprouts!
What are microgreens?
Microgreens are plants that have not been grown fully. They are ready to harvest once their first true set of leaves grow.
Microgreens have up to 40x more nutrients than their full-grown counterparts. They tend to be more intensely flavorful as well.
Microgreens are usually used as a garnish. They grew popular in Southern California in culinary restaurants, and then worked their way into popular culture in California. Now the whole country grows microgreens.
What are sprouts?
Sprouts are germinated seeds. They are often used in Asian cuisine or in salads to add a little crunch.
According to the Cleveland Health Clinic, there are four categories of sprouts:
- Bean and pea sprouts such as lentils, kidney beans, and mung beans.
- Vegetable sprouts such as alfalfa and broccoli.
- Nut and seed sprouts such as sunflowers and pumpkin seeds.
- Sprouted grains such as quinoa and wheatgrass.
How are microgreens grown?
Microgreens can be grown hydroponically with a medium holding them above the water with their roots in the water. The water has added nutrients that the microgreens would usually get from soil.
They can also be grown normally. The growing medium is dampened every day until the microgreens sprout. After that it is just lightly misted each day and put in a sunny location.
The microgreens are harvested when they are a few inches tall and have their first set of true leaves.
How are sprouts grown?
Sprouts are normally grown from seeds that are specifically made for sprouting. These seeds aren’t coated in chemicals since you will be eating the seeds as well as the tiny sprouts.
All you need is a quart-sized canning jar, a sprouting screen, and a wide-mouth canning ring.
First, you soak about three tablespoons of sprout seeds overnight. Rinse the sprouts and drain the water, and then cover them with 3 cups of water.
The next morning, dump the water and rinse the sprouts again. Fill the jar back up with water.
Do this two to three times a day until the sprouts fill your entire jar and turn green. This will take about four days.
What are some of the dangers of microgreens?
One danger of microgreens is if they spoil. If they are yellow, wilting, or planted too closely together, these are all signs of spoilage. They may also smell “off”.
The main danger is if the wrong seeds are used. When a plant grows fully, it has time to process and get rid of the chemicals coating the seed.
But when a plant is only grown partially, it doesn’t have time to rid itself of the seed’s coating. It is important to use organic seeds when growing microgreens at home. Seeds that are specifically for microgreens are even better.
What are some of the dangers of sprouts?
The UK’s National Health Service states that sprouts can have salmonella or E. coli if grown improperly.
Sprout seeds need to be organic or specifically for sprouting. You are eating the entirety of the seed, so it is important that you aren’t consuming any harmful chemicals.
Sprouts are grown in a moist environment. This can harbor harmful bacteria that can give you food poisoning. If the sprouts aren’t properly drained and cared for, they are bound to mold.
Never eat a sprout that is soft, discolored, or has mold on it. The mold is usually fuzzy and white.
How can you make microgreens safer?
If you buy your microgreens from the store, carefully inspect them first to make sure there isn’t any discoloration. Only buy organic microgreens. Rinse them fully multiple times. Don’t use them past their expiration date.
If you’re growing them yourself, be sure not to plant them too close to each other. That can spread diseases quickly.
Don’t keep the soil too moist.
Only use organic seeds or seeds that are made specifically for microgreens.
The best way to make microgreens safer is to cook them. This gets rid of any leftover bacteria or chemicals. There are many recipes where you can cook microgreens such as in stir fries or as a burger topping.
How can you make sprouts safer?
If you’re buying sprouts from the store, only buy organic sprouts. Don’t buy any sprouts that have excess moisture in the container. Look for discoloration or mold. Smell them through the container if you can to see if they smell musty.
Don’t use them past their expiration date.
When growing sprouts at home, only use organic seeds or seeds that are specifically made for sprouts.
The main way to keep sprouts from going bad is to rinse them often and thoroughly. You don’t want the water to have enough time to grow bacteria.
Cooking sprouts ensures that there is no bacteria left over.
Why are microgreens safer than sprouts?
Microgreens are safer than sprouts because they aren’t grown in such a moist environment.
Moist environments harbor bacteria and mold much more easily than dry environments do.
Since sprouts are soaked all day, they have a higher risk of developing bacteria or mold.
It is easier to make mistakes growing sprouts than it is to make mistakes growing microgreens because they require more maintenance.
Does this mean you shouldn’t eat sprouts?
You can still eat sprouts! You just have to be cautious.
Don’t eat sprouts that show any signs of discoloration or mold. They shouldn’t be mushy or smell either. Don’t eat them past their expiration date.
If you’re growing them at home, be sure to rinse them thoroughly and often.
The safest way to eat sprouts is to cook them first.
Hi, I’m John Stephens, chief editor and writer for Totalgardener.com. I’ve been gardening and raising animals for over 15 years starting with a small backyard plot in Northern Virginia where I grew corn, potatoes, squash, and using a high mulch technique called the Ruth Stout Method. I also raised ducks and small mammals for meat and eggs in a movable pen similar to the ones used by Joel Salatin. I later moved to Colorado where I experimented with growing greens using aquaponics inside. I eventually added a microgreens setup and home sprouting operation. I’m excited to share everything I’ve learned plus more from the other local gardening and animal raising experts I know.