At least one time each farmers market we get the question, “So, what do we do with these? Do they need to be refrigerated?” The short answer is yes. They need to stay cold after harvesting, just like the salad mix. Beyond keeping refrigerated, there are a few more storage tips that will maximize your micro-greens shelf life.
Let’s start with the harvest day. Whether you grow them at home, or buy one of our packages, the shelf life timer starts ticking at harvest day. Obviously the best way to consume micro-greens is to harvest them directly to the plate and consume without having to store them. The reality is that, lots of people are purchasing greens or harvesting lots at a time and want to get the longest shelf life as possible. Once the greens are harvested, they should be put into a container and directly into the fridge. We harvest in the cool of the early mornings or late evenings so the ambient temperature of the greens is on the cooler side as well. We also wait 12-15 hours after the last watering to harvest. The cooler temps will keep the greens crisp and the time between waterings will allow the greens to dry out enough to harvest without extra moisture. Don’t wait too long to harvest after watering though….those little greens are very water dependent so it’s important to hit that window where the greens are as dry as possible, but still full of life and standing tall! In order to get a great shelf life, these parts of the process are imperative.
Next, let’s chat about containers. We don’t like using the plastic packaging, but the truth is, it’s the best packaging that we can send our harvest out the door in. The sturdiness of the containers will keep the greens safe from bruising. Thats the main reason we use clamshells. When you harvest them at home or buy in bulk, you may want to switch up those containers. Any airtight container will work, like a glass container or even a zip lock bag if you’re not worried about bruising. Anything that we harvest that does’t immediately go into a clamshell for sale, will go into a Rubbermade Fresh Vent Container that is specific for leafy greens. There is a small filter on the lid that helps keep the condensation down which helps increase shelf life. We find that these containers will keep the greens fresh almost twice as long as our plastic clamshell containers. If you are serious about your greens, you may want to look into a specific storage like this. We will put a link to the style containers we use at the end of this post. With that said, there are a few things that you can do with your plastic clamshells to keep them as fresh as possible as well.
The main thing that we want to avoid is moisture and condensation. In order to keep condensation down, it’s important to keep a constant, cold temperature. We advise you to keep your greens in the fridge where the temperature is most constant. Don’t keep them by the fan blowing the cold air, and don’t leave them on the door if you tend to keep the fridge door open a long periods of time. When the greens warm and cool, they will naturally condensate, so keeping cold and dry while avoiding freezing temperatures is a must. One of the best places to keep them would be in one of the drawers or towards the middle of the fridge. If you find some condensation on the lid when you open it up, don’t worry too much, just wipe it clean! That will help add some time to your shelf life as well.
Another note to make, is don’t leave them out too long! Grab what you want and get those greens back into the fridge! If you’re leaving them out for a fun meal, or party, make sure they are staying chilled like the veggie tray. If you’re storing on ice, make sure there is a barrier to keep them cool, but not freeze. If they are in direct contact with the ice, they will freeze and turn to mush in no time!
If you follow these steps, you will be giving yourself the best shot at a long shelf life…but let’s be honest, they shouldn’t stick around too long to go bad anyways. And if you find yourself with lots of greens that you won’t be able to finish in time, go ahead and freeze them for an easy addition to your smoothies. Micro-greens are just like lettuce, just a little more delicate. If you treat them well, they will surprise you how long they will keep fresh!
(CLICK HERE to see the containers that we use at home for our personal use and greens storage)