Jams, canned and cured goods used to be the only way to preserve fresh foods. A change in weather or seasons used to mean a hefty shift in food storage methods and ‘readying’ for what lay ahead. But, with the modern conveniences of refrigeration, preservatives and perennial supermarket produce, humans have in many ways ‘opted out’ of these necessities. Sprout lovers are more than consumers though, they’re farmers! Storing seeds and mature sprouts is a vital step in the growing process.
How to Store Your Seeds…
Storage time varies for different varieties of seed. Mung and adzuki beans can store for 2 years at room temperature, as can millet. Grains like rye, wheat and spelt will store for 9-12 months, and quinoa can last for 1 year in a glass jar.
Our unopened packages are great for longterm storage, but once they are opened, glass jars are inexpensive, attractive, and readily available storage vessels. A tight seal is of the utmost importance to prevent humidity from creeping in. Moisture is not your friend! Another thing to avoid is sun and high heats. Any dark cabinet that maintains cooler temperatures will do (around 60 degrees F is ideal). Here’s how long you can store your seeds, depending on the variety…
A Quick ‘Hardy’ Guide:
The Hardiest Seeds
Alfalfa, Broccoli, Clover, Radish, Fenugreek, Chia, Kale, Mustard, Mung, Adzuki, Soy, Lentils, Pea, Millet
This group can store for 1-2 years at room temperature, or even longer if they are refrigerated. Keep away from light and heat.
Not as Hardy
Wheat, Soft Wheat, Barley, Rye, Spelt, Kamut, Buckwheat, Quinoa, Garbanzo
This group generally lasts for 1 year at room temp. Consider refrigerating or freezing them to extend their lives.
Chives and sunflower
Consider storing these in the fridge or freezer year round. At room temp, these delicate seeds start to lose germination as early as 3 months!
How to Store Your Grown Sprouts…
Sprouts are living things: even when you consider them ‘done’, they never stop growing! Most home grown sprouts last 1-2 weeks if cared for properly, and one of the most important steps in extending the life of your sprouts is thoroughly cleaning them in a colander upon harvest.
If your sprouts are at their peak (depending on your preference), you should put them in the refrigerator. Sprouts are in their prime around 1 week and will generally survive for as long as it took them to mature. So if a sprout takes 4 days to mature, you will have about another 4 days in which to enjoy them. Refrigeration can also help if you aren’t able to consume them all in a timely manner, but remember that it doesn’t stop a sprouts growth entirely. Cooling them down simply slows their growing process.
Let Them Breathe
Sprouts are still living and need a healthy flow of oxygen to stay fresh. Many people are tempted to put new sprouts in tupperware or airtight containers, but that’s a surefire way to decay. Put dry sprouts in a bowl lightly covered with a towel or plastic wrap (pricked with holes to encourage air flow). If you put soaking wet sprouts in the fridge this will also prevent them from absorbing clean air and limit their shelf life.
Too-cold conditions can be just as harmful as hot ones. Freezer damage is a sneaky ruiner of otherwise prime greens and can creep in and quickly break down your crop. If the stalks of your sprouts are translucent, instead of white, your sprouts may already be on their way out.
What To Do With Old Seeds
Despite best efforts, you may be left with some old seed that’s no longer sprout-worthy. If that’s the case, use it in your outdoor garden—or feed it to the birds! Seeds like sunflower, alfalfa and wheat are delicious to avian friends when mixed into a homemade bird seed. As long as the seed is containment and mold-free, it should serve as healthy and nutritious fodder for your backyard birds.
If you’re feeling confident in your storage abilities, now’s the time to stock up! Grab a bag of seeds and get your glass jars lined up. Reach out at any time with your storage questions and, as always, stay sproutful!