Harvesting and Handling
Sprouts are young seedlings just after seed germination. The most common marketed sprout is Mung bean. Other sprouts include; alfalfa, buckwheat, green pea, kidney, pinto, and navy bean, lentil, mustard, onion, radish, red clover, soybean, watercress and winter cress.
Fresh Mung bean sprouts have crisp white hypocotyl and yellow or green cotyledons. Symptoms of deterioration include; darkening of the root and cotyledons, development of dark streaks on the hypocotyl, and eventual development of sliminess, decay, and a musty odour. Sprouts vary in texture and taste: some are spicy (e.g., radish and onion sprouts); others are hardy and often used in Asian foods (e.g., Mung beans sprouts); while others are more delicate and used in salads and sandwiches to add texture and moistness (e,.g., alfalfa sprouts).
The respiration rate of Mung bean sprouts is high, and the heat increases sharply with temperature, as noted for several other crops with relatively high rates of carbon dioxide production. The shelf life decreases sharply with increases in holding temperature.
Cooling and Storage
Sprouts should be cooled immediately after harvest and held at 0°C. Sprouts are highly perishable and most last 5 to 10 days at 0°C with 95% to 100% RH.
Sprouts should be stored as cold as possible without freezing. In some cases, the cotyledons of Mung bean sprouts darken more at lower temperatures. However, due to faster deterioration at higher temperatures, storage at 0°C is recommended.
Controlled atmosphere considerations
The shelf-life of Mung bean sprouts can be increased by storage under MA in which O2 is reduced and CO2 is increased. For instance, they can be held for 4 to 5 days at 8°C in packages containing 5% O2 and 15% CO2.
Development of decay, sliminess and musty odours are symptoms of deterioration.