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Packaging MICROGREENS

 
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Hi,
I'm new to this forum and am interested in MICROGREENS. I have experimented and have found some of my MICROGREENS wilt after a few days in the refrigerator. Can anyone tell me what is the best way to store them. I've tried the clamshells and they don't last long in there.
Thanks
 
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Location: Northern Italy
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We store ours in a glass container, glass seems to win here.
We don't wash them before putting them in the fridge, but wash them right before using them.

If you have a plastic container, get one with holes in it because they need humidity to keep fresh, but they also need oxygen. Not too big of holes or they'll fall out.

We're on the lookout for the perfect plastic container for sales, probably will be some bio-degradable packaging with enough holes.

Ours last for about 5-7 days without much problem. We eat them before that, so even less of a problem.
Good luck.
William
 
Nance Smith
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Thanks for the response. Is there anyway to wash them ahead of time without them going limp?
 
William James
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You could try washing them, then drying them fully, then putting them back in the glass container. When we washed them we had a bad experience, so we never washed them again. We should do some trials. Let me know how that works for you.

It's either the excess of water in the container that turns them dead and slimy or the lack of humidity that dries them out and they go limp.

The company that grows them en-mass in holland grows them without soil, so there is less of a chance they ever encounter harmful bacteria. Another factor is the freshness you had from the beginning. If you're buying them they could already be X hours old, and stored in X conditions. If you're cutting your own, you know how fresh they are. But I don't think bacteria is really the issue.

It's all in striking that balance of wetness and dryness of the microgreens that makes them keep longer. They need oxygen, but not too much. They need humidity, but not too much. Our glass container with a tupperware top seems to balance things out pretty well.

William
 
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If I understand your problem correctly, that your micro greens wilt in your refrigerator, you may need to look at the type of refrigeration you are using.

Home type of refrigerators that are frost free refrigerators have defrost mechanisms that pull moisture out of the atmosphere to prevent the formation of frost. The result is a dry air that dehydrates items in the refrigerator. Old style refrigerators and commercial refrigerators do not use this system. A way to compensate for this is to lay a slightly damp paper towel on the produce or to mist it regularly to rehydrate the produce.
 
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Location: The Netherlands
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William James wrote:
The company that grows them en-mass in holland grows them without soil, so there is less of a chance they ever encounter harmful bacteria. Another factor is the freshness you had from the beginning. If you're buying them they could already be X hours old, and stored in X conditions. If you're cutting your own, you know how fresh they are. But I don't think bacteria is really the issue.
William

How do you buy those greens? If in plastic bags I can recommend to keep them closed for as long as possible. Most of the time they are packed with a high amount of nitrogen and have microscopic holes in them that allow just enough humidity/oxygen transfer to keep the greens fresh for the longest period possible.
 
William James
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How do you buy those greens?



We're growing them both for personal consumption and for sales. Keeping them in bags with holes would work, I suppose. We should trial that.

William
 
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I farmed microgreens for over two years. William is right about finding the right moisture content for optimum storage. It took some trial and error to get a feel for the right amount of moisture before packing and refrigerating the microgreens for delivery. After washing and running through a salad spinner, I would dry them with a fan and constant attention. For packaging, I used clamshells made of mostly recycled plastic. Unfortunately, I could not find anything more sustainable that was suitable for preserving microgreens. The clamshells don't have holes, but they don't seal like tupperware, so it allows for micro-air flow. My customer's microgreens would last 6-8 days consistently after I mastered the moisture levels.
 
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Location: Boyd, Texas
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I have looked at microgreens as a possible side product, but these are some of the things that have held me back. I think if I go with them I will probably do a hydo/aquaponics system to get the dirt out. That seems to be a major safety issue with this type of product. I would also probably target a restaurant market and just sell them by the tray. One major issue with doing them is that in most places once you cut, wash, and package them they are no longer vegetables in the eyes of the health department. They are now processed food products and fall under the health departments control with all the licensing, inspected commercial kitchens, and storage requirements of a processed food.
 
Rich Clay
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Growing microgreens without soil is a risky endeavor. I've heard that hydroponic microgreen growers are mandated to have chemists on staff to moniter water quality due to the threat of salmonella, E. coli, etc. You'd have to look into this, I suspect perhaps that going aero/hydro for microgreens might place them under the newer regulations for sprouts, which have driven some out of the sprout industry.

You could simply sell your microgreens unwashed, though restaurants usually prefer pre-washed microgreens because cleaning them can be quite time intensive.
 
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Location: Little Rock, AR 7b
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In my state, Arkansas, a grower of microgreens would be considered a "farm" by the Health Department. You are free to make "one cut" when harvesting vegetables, then package and sell. However, if you sell "prepared salads", or if you "process" foods like drying herbs or washing greens, then you become a "food processing facility" and a whole bunch of other rules come into play: independent bathroom facility, 3 compartment sink, approved water supply, inspections, permit, etc.

If you do "interstate commerce" then you are subject to FDA regulations. Currently, there are FDA "guidelines" for seed preparation when growing sprouts, but no requirements.

FDA Guidance - Sprouted Seeds

So, technically, a microgreen farmer, whether using soil (for bigger seed like peas, beets, etc.) or hydroponics, is under the same regulations as any other farmer. (Your individual state may differ.)

Given that a microgreen farmer typically uses sterile potting soil, or hydroponics, there would be no additional risk of bacteriological contamination from the growing media. Growing indoors also eliminates the risk that a passing bird might drop a "salmonella bomb" on your greens. The highest risk comes from the seed itself. Use organic to be sure there are no chemical treatments. I might use the FDA guidelines method to wash the seed beforehand if the seed husk is likely to cling to the final product.

I imagine that the restaurant chef would expect to have to wash their own greens prior to use, especially when buying direct from the local farmer.

Back to packaging. I was thinking of trying to fold freezer paper, or maybe butcher paper into pillow boxes, or take-out boxes like those used for Chinese food. It sounds like a little square of moist paper towel in the bottom might help. Perhaps a Koolyok:

Koolyok Explanation, History, and Instructions
 
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Location: north end of the Keweenaw Mi.
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one way I tried was just pull the product [tested with radishes]and set them in a glass jar of water , roots and all.[just the roots submerged ]
the radishes were grown in compost and 4'' deep food service trays.
after harvest the lasted 2 weeks at room temperature and sun lite till they looked too gnarly to eat.
after we get caught up with the out doors chores ill do some more testing.

Mike
 
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