You should not eat microgreens from the nightshade family plants, such as tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, and eggplants as the sprouts of these plants are poisonous. The sprouts of these plants contain solanine and tropanes, forms of toxic alkaloids, that can create illnesses linked to both the nervous and digestive systems.
This article will cover which microgreens to avoid, people who should not eat microgreens and how to ensure your microgreens are safe to eat to avoid illness.
Are Microgreens Safe to Eat If I Grow Them at Home?
Microgreens are perfectly safe to be eaten when home-grown; experienced growers advise that you conduct significant research before attempting this. Microgreens need to be planted in soil that does not contain any harmful bacteria as this will transfer to the plants as they grow. Microgreens should not be seeded too densely as this will support the growth of mold.
What Are Common Microgreens to Be Wary of Growing?
Be cautious of growing microgreens like watercress, Thai basil, Swiss chard, and Radish as these are the most susceptible microgreens to disease. Avoid growing these microgreens at home without the correct knowledge as you will risk becoming sick if the seeds are not grown safely.
Is The Quality of the Seed Important?
If the seed quality is poor the growth of the plants can be stunted and the risk of growing mold and fungus increases. Purchasing your microgreen seeds from a reputable company ensures they will be safe to grow and consume. Established, reputable companies will follow the correct sanitizing, growing, storage and quality procedures ensuring safe, quality seeds.
How Can I Increase the Safety of The Seeds I Use?
Sanitize your seeds by adding a teaspoon of food-grade hydrogen peroxide to reduce the risk of seeds growing fungus or mold, then allow the seeds to soak for one hour, rinsing the seeds several times with clean water before planting. Keep the seeds damp but avoid them becoming too wet as this will support the growth of mold, and seedlings will be lost to root rot.
Can Raw Microgreens Be Eaten?
Microgreens are best eaten raw as this is when they retain their vitality and nutritious values. Microgreens need to be stored in a dry, sealable container and kept in a refrigerator to prolong their freshness, but it is recommended that they are consumed within a few days of being harvested.
Can Microgreens Be Cooked for Consumption?
Microgreens are safe for consumption when cooked and should be washed with clean water beforehand, but they will lose their vitality. Water soluble vitamins and enzymes will also be lost when microgreens are cooked (the reason a lot of people do not cook microgreens). Cooking microgreens kills germs and bacteria, reducing the risk of illness that exists when microgreens are eaten raw.
How Long Can I Store Microgreens Before Consumption?
Microgreens can be stored for 7-14 days when grown and stored in the correct conditions; they should be covered and kept cool in a refrigerator. Shrivelling leaves, stems becoming mushy and beginning to smell are all signs that your microgreens have gone bad and are no longer fit for consumption.
Can Microgreens Make You Sick?
Eating microgreens that have grown mold or fungus can cause sickness, mainly food poisoning. Microgreens do contain small amounts of toxins when eaten raw, but a thorough wash before consumption will help avoid illness. Cook microgreens well to kill any germs such as spores, bacteria, parasites, and fungus, to ensure you avoid sickness.
The Types of Microgreens That Can Make You Sick
Buckwheat, Alfalfa and Quinoa are microgreens that can cause you illness if you eat a lot in their raw state. These three microgreens contain certain chemical compounds that are mildly toxic to us, namely fagopyrin and saponins, but they are safe to eat in small quantities. If you are unsure about microgreens then it is best practice to cook them.
What Are Common Infections Caught from Eating Microgreens Raw?
Escherichia coli, salmonella and listeria monocytogenes are all bacterial infections that can be caught from eating raw microgreens, whilst norovirus is a viral infection that can also be caught from eating microgreens. Common symptoms of all these infections are a fever, diarrhoea, and vomiting, but if left untreated then these illnesses can become fatal.
Can Pregnant Women, Children and The Elderly Eat Raw Microgreens?
Pregnant women, children and the elderly should not eat raw microgreens as they have weaker immune systems that might not be able to fight off bacteria. Weaker immune systems mean that these groups of people are more prone to infections such as food poisoning, which can be caused by raw microgreen consumption. It is rare to get food poisoining from microgrens, but it definitely does happen – so avoiding them completely for these groups is recommended.
Are The Roots on Microgreens Safe to Eat?
Avoid eating the roots when eating raw or cooked microgreens as this will cut the risk of sickness by 50% because mold is more likely to grow on the roots of the plant. Soil contains nutrients and moisture which creates an environment that mold can grow in, so it is important that you do not add too much water to the soil to avoid growing mold.
How Can I Prevent Mold Growing When Home-Growing Microgreens?
To prevent mold growing on microgreens you need to plant the seeds in disinfected trays with drainage holes that allow proper air circulation. The humidity of the grow area needs to be 40-60%, the temperature in the range of 18 to 24°C, and light needs to be provided for 6-10 hours a day.
Can Mold Be Removed to Make the Microgreens Safe to Eat?
Microgreens that develop mold should be discarded to avoid the risk of illness to anyone who consumes them. Some growers are known to use grapeseed oil or 33% food grade H202 can mitigate light mold, but this is not recommended as spores can still be present within the container.
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.