The shelf life of sprouting seeds (how long the seeds remains viable - able to germinate) varies quite a bit. Though most seeds will remain viable for years in reasonable storage (dark, cool and low humidity), some will not. We suggest that you freeze your seed. Freezing extends the shelf life of a seed by several years. The only concern in freezing is condensation. All you need to do to avoid condensation is to return the seed to the freezer within a few minutes - after you've removed what you need, to grow your current crop. Also, Keep them in any sealed container. A plastic bag is fine. Glass is better. You do not need to thaw the seeds - just go ahead and Soak.Sprouting Notes
When conditions are warmer your sprouts will likely grow faster. Likewise they may grow slower if conditions are very cool. As always 70° is optimal.
All sprouts generate heat while growing, which is a good thing, but it can get out of hand on occasion. When the weather is especially hot and humid you will do well to Rinse more frequently (every 8 hours if possible) using colder water than usual, to compensate.
We grow our sprouts almost exclusively in Easy Sprout Sprouters. By day 4 we have hulls coming off our sprouts, so we allow the hulls to escape. We do this by leaving the Growing Vessel inside the Solid Base of the Easy Sprout and then filling it with water. We use a fork to loosen the mass of sprouts, which allows more hulls to float to the surface. We skim the hulls off and compost them. It isn't necessary to do this because we De-Hull them when we harvest the crop, but it's a way to spend more time with your sprouts. We like to do that. It's possible that we're a bit odd that way - - but you see - sprouts are sorta part of our family - - hmmmm - I don't imagine that makes us seem less odd. Let's just leave it there. We are who we are @:-)
Depending on your Sprouting Device, not all of your sprouts will have access to light and so some will not green. This is not only OK - it is good. The yellow sprouts will be equally nutritious (they have everything but chlorophyll) and many think them more delicious (in Europe vegetables are often grown "blanched" by being denied light). We think they are prettier when there is a mix of green and yellow leaves to go with the white roots. So don't sweat it - just eat more sprouts!
When using a non-tray sprouter, you can help your crop by "breaking apart" your sprouts when they clump up - around day 3 or 4 and daily thereafter. We use high water pressure when Rinsing to keep our sprouts loose, but this only works for so long - so - when water isn't enough, loosen the clump of sprouts up using a fork or your fingers (wash your hands first please, if they need it). If you are using a Sprouter that can hold water, like Easy Sprout - fill it mostly full then use a fork to loosen the clump. You could also dump your sprouts onto or into something and just shake them apart. This clump loosening is by no means mandatory - but it will help more of their leaves to turn green. You should never be afraid*** of touching your sprouts. They are much stronger then they appear - just be reasonably gentle.
*** The only thing to fear is fear itself.
Alternate Growing Methods
This method produces very pretty sprouts that green most evenly and whose hulls are removed most easily. They do not however, taste any better =:-}
If you grow in a Tray sprouter - like SproutMaster, your sprouts can grow vertically - leaves (cotyledons) up, roots down. The trick to doing this is to keep your sprouts in place (don't "break them up" as you do in a non-tray sprouter) from day 3 onward. It is easy to do if, when Rinsing, you use a sprayer (that attachment most sinks have - the one that pulls out and is gun-like or a faucet attachment that offers spraying when pulled down) instead of your faucet. We have grown many tons of leafy sprouts this way. Here is a breakdown of the specifics (rinse numbers are based on 12 hour intervals - adjust as needed):
Rinse 1 (right after Soak): Use faucet or sprayer and Rinse thoroughly (use water at high pressure and use plenty of it). Rinse 2 and 3: Use faucet or sprayer and Rinse thoroughly. Rinse 4: Use sprayer and while Rinsing thoroughly, spray your sprouts evenly across the bottom of the tray. You can use your hands to spread them too. The goal is to spread them evenly. Rinse 5 and 6: Use sprayer with less water pressure. Rinse well - (which since you are using less water pressure means - for a longer time) but don't disturb the sprouts. Rinse 7 - 10: Use sprayer. You can turn the water pressure back to high - your sprouts will not be easily moved (broken up) at this point and the higher water pressure feeds oxygen to your sprouts as well as "cleaning" them, which is a wonderful way to produce healthy long lasting sprouts. Rinse and Drain thoroughly. Rinse 11 (if you need this many) or your last Rinse: Use Sprayer. Hold your tray at an angle (90° will work but less is OK too) and spray across the top of the sprouts to remove hulls. We call this SHAVING. It can be done at any Rinse or every Rinse - starting when hulls begin to be shed by the opening leaves. Rinse down into the sprouts too.
Vertical growing CAN be done without a sprayer too but it is more difficult. If you want to try all you have to do is regulate your water pressure - trying to keep your sprouts undisturbed during rinses 4 - 6.
Growing Leafy Sprouts as Micro-Greens
We have posted instructions to do this Here: Leafy Sprout Micro-Greens.
Dry Alfalfa awaits Soaking.
12 hours later.... Harvest Time!