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Ask Tess: How long can I store sprouts?

A reader wonders how long sprouting seeds can be stored and the proper way to store them.

Hi Tess,

Thanks for all you are doing! Such a great source of information!

My question is about sprouting seeds. I see this as one of the ways to get fresh greens in a SHTF situation. But I wonder how long sprouting seeds can be stored and the proper way to store them. I don’t know if they’re different than regular seeds.




Hi Carol,

That’s a great question and one I believe many haven’t thought about. Although sprouts are a fast source for nutrition during times of emergencies, there are some storage/safety concerns and they definitely have a short shelf life of a few days after sprouting.

First of all, let me address the safety concerns of sprouts so you will understand why it is so important to use your sprouts in a timely fashion. Unlike other fresh produce, seeds and beans need warm and humid conditions to sprout and grow. These conditions are also ideal for the growth of bacteria, including Salmonella, Listeria, and E. coli. Not to cause concern, but since 1996, there have been at least 30 reported outbreaks of foodborne illness associated with different types of raw and lightly cooked sprouts. Most of these outbreaks were caused by Salmonella and E. coli and occurred at growing facilities. The bacterias are usually present in or on the seed, and the bacteria can grow to high levels during sprouting, even under sanitary conditions at home.

To prevent this health issue, you can follow these safety steps:

  • Wash all sprouts thoroughly with filtered water before eating them.
  • If you’ve purchased sprouts at the grocery store, look for the International Sprout Growers Association seal on the package or if you are buying bulk, ask your grocery if the sprouts are ISGA-approved.
  • If the sprouts are pre-packaged, only purchase if the sell-by date is current or even a few days ahead.
  • Examine the sprouts to make sure the roots are clean. If the stem color is not white or creamy, do not purchase them. Do not purchase sprouts if the buds are no longer attached, if they are dark in color or have a musty smell.
  • Smell the sprouts to be sure that they have a clean, fresh odor.
  • Keep the sprouts refrigerated.
  • After 2 days, compost them rather than consuming them yourself.
  • If you’re buying in bulk, ask your grocer about the sell date.
  • If you are sprouting seeds at home, follow the same guidelines described above. Learn about the source of your seeds, their ISGA-certification, and either have your grocer confirm high-quality standards for seed production or obtain contact information for the seed source and contact that company yourself.
  • Follow the above guidelines regardless of the type of seeds you are sprouting, i.e., apply the guidelines to mung, alfalfa, radish, broccoli, lentil, sunflower and all other types of sprouts.

Since the shelf life is around 2 days before the sprouts begin to break down, take advantage of having them and add them to salads, sandwiches, soups, and even breads to add more nutrition.

I hope this helps!



This article was originally published at Ready Nutrition™ on February 11th, 2014

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