Image: LiuSol/Shutterstock.comSprouts are the edible, highly nutritious young shoots of newly germinated vegetable seeds or grains such as alfalfa, barley, soybeans, and wheat, as well as mung, adzuki, and garbanzo beans. Types & Varieties Sprouts can be produced from an array of vegetable or grain seeds, from broccoli and radishes to pumpkins and onions. Alfalfa sprouts are the most common in the United States; mung bean sprouts are the most popular worldwide.
CULTIVATION Sprouts thrive in a moist, warm environment with ideal temperatures between 70 and 80°F. Seeds are typically planted in well-drained, aerated, stainless steel trays or plastic containers. Depending on the variety, sprouts are harvested between 1 and 8 days after germination. At the time of harvest, the sprout stem should be about 1 to 3 inches in length and topped by at least 2 tiny leaves.
Pests & Diseases
Sprouts are commonly grown indoors, so the threat of pests is extremely low. Nevertheless, alfalfa weevils, bean thrips, clover root curculios, and seedling thrips can cause issues.
Additionally, because sprouts grow in a warm, humid environment, conditions are ideal for the development of bacterial decay and charcoal rot, as well as the far more harmful salmonella, listeria, and E. coli, which have been linked to a number of foodborne illness outbreaks in recent years.
Storage & Packaging
Unless sprouts are grown hydroponically, they should be thoroughly washed after harvest, carefully packed, and cooled to 32°F. When properly cooled, they have a shelf life of 5 to 9 days.
References: Australian Mungbean Association, Clemson University, Colorado State University, North Carolina State, Queensland Dept. of Agriculture and Fisheries, University of California, USDA, West Kentucky University.
Sprout Terminal Market Pricing: 5 lb Bags