Is it sprouts or microgreens? I know it can get super confusing to differentiate between sprouts and microgreens, so here are some differences I have gotten to know over time that will definitely help.
Sprouts VS. Microgreens – What’s the Difference?
Well, first off, they do have different appearances. Most microgreens are green in color and might have a little red-ish purple tinge to them due to their varieties. They look like ‘micro’ leafy plants, while sprouts have an elongated cream or white shoot/stem emerging from its seed.
Secondly, their method of growing is not similar either. Sprouts undergo a process of “sprouting” where seeds are soaked in water for numerous hours until they germinate, and a white/cream shoot emerges from the seed. Whereas microgreens grow in the soil like normal plants, only smaller and more nutritious.
When we eat sprouts, we are actually eating seeds and “stem” a.k.a the shoot, while for microgreens, we eat the leaves and the stem. Moreover their flavors and texture also differ. Where microgreens are developed and have rich concentrated and delicate feel to them; on the other hand, sprouts are not developed and have comparatively less taste and have more potential of causing illnesses.
Microgreens have added nutritional value than sprouts since they grow in nutrient solution/fertile soil. They have multiple health benefits, like preventing and curing heart diseases and cancer cells. While sprouts are relatively healthier than other vegetables but have no as such additional benefits like microgreens.
Sprouts take a maximum of 4-6 days to sprout that are not even ready to be eaten while microgreens at least take a week and at most take 2-4 weeks until they can be harvested and can be eaten raw.
Some examples of sprouts can be bean and pea sprouts such as lentils, mung bean, green pea, etc. and more like alfalfa, clover, radish, onion, and chickpeas. While some examples of microgreen can be sunflower, arugula, basil, cabbage, kohlrabi, and broccoli.
Now that we are clear with the difference between sprouts and microgreen lets dive into our actual question, which is:
Is it or is it not Safe Eating Sprouts Raw?
The answer is no. Due to their way of growing that is being soaked in the still lukewarm water, they are highly susceptible to bacterial growth like Salmonella and E.coli, which not only cause food poisoning but also fatigue and joint pain. Symptoms like diarrhea, fever and abdominal cramps can be noticed, and in severe cases of food poisoning, vomiting, and peptic ulcers can also be a symptom that is proven to be fatal.
On the commercial level presence of E.coli and Salmonella is believed to come from animal manure, which is used in the fields. It has also been confirmed while investigating sprouting practices that beans and seeds themselves contain bacteria, and they grow to hazardous levels during the process of sprouting even if hygienic conditions are maintained.
Seeds and beans meant for sprouting should not be handled the same way as seeds and beans that are supposed to be crops because, for sprouts, industries need to disinfect it in a way that it is safer to eat and store with minimal side effects.
However, home-based sprouting needs more precaution and awareness. In the absence of strong and expensive disinfectants used by industries, we will need to find another way to make eating sprouts safer. And how is that possible?
First and foremost, whether you are a high-risk taker or not, make sure to never eat sprouts raw. Not every time, raw sprouts cause food poisoning, but it is better to not take the risk. Moreover, it’s better if you sprout the plants only when you might need them, eat cooked fresh sprouts and try to use them all up once they have sprouted.
It is essential to cook your sprouts as thoroughly as possible. Only washing the sprouts or slightly cooking them will not help since it does not kill the bacteria completely; being a threat of food poisoning.
Another technique to reduce the threat of any such fatal illness, make sure to regularly clean your sprouter and sterilize it every now and then if needed. Your seed should be washed properly and no dirt should be stuck in them before they undergo sprouting. Keep an eye on the draining schedule since standing water is not only home to unwanted bacterial growth but also destroys your seed and effects your sprout growth.
Since sprouting is all about water, test your water for any water-borne bacteria like naegleria or amoeba that will not only produce low yield but also produce low quality and harmful sprouts.
If you would still like to store fresh sprouts, then dry them as much as possible before refrigerating them. For that you can either leave them out for about 8-12 hours, but for me it’s just making them lose their freshness and nutrients. Or you can use a Hemp bag to dry them, a little messy but very fun to toss around.
You can place them in a plastic Ziploc bag or even a plastic/glass container. Keep in mind that everything should be airlock because that will dry out your sprouts unless and until your sprouts are still a bit wet, then punch a few holes in the bag so they can “breathe,” and only this it will make them a little fresher.