Sprouting and Microgreening with Mucilaginous Seeds

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Sprouting and Microgreening with Mucilaginous Seeds

Some of you may have been sprouting and/or microgreening for some time and come across seeds that react different to water than other seeds. They get sticky and take longer to germ, making it disheartening if you haven’t dealt with these kinds of seeds before. They are called mucilaginous seeds and there are methods to dealing with their sometimes-obscure germination method.

Here are a list of mucilaginous seeds:

  • Brown Mustard
  • Arugula
  • Chia
  • Basil
  • Curled Cress

Mucilaginous seeds are simply seeds whose hull forms a gel sack around itself when exposed to water. This is most likely a result of their native climate. For example, Chia is native to Southern Mexico and Guatemala, places where drought is a common occurrence. The gel sack that forms around chia, and other mucilaginous seeds, is a survival mechanism to keep the seed hydrated in times when water is scarce, giving each seed the chance to grow and thrive.


example of chia seeds reacting to water(Figure 1) Chia seeds, shown here dry and wet

Mucilaginous seeds are some of the most difficult seeds to sprout. Traditional wet-based methods of sprouting tend to lead to over-saturation which can lead to mold and rot. Sprouting these seeds may require you to use the dry sprouting method and/or mix seeds with another non-mucilaginous seed if using a traditional wet method of sprouting, such as the jar or tray method.


example of mucilaginous seeds in a dry sprouter(Figure 2) Dry Sprouting Brown Mustard

Mucilaginous seeds fall somewhere between sprouting and microgreening because, although they are grown primarily using a water-based method, they are required to grow for a longer period of time, therefore, making them eatable by the stage one would normally label a microgreen. Dry sprouting is the most common and efficient way to sprout mucilaginous seeds.


example of mucilaginous seeds in a dry sprouter(Figure 3) Grown Chia

Dry sprouting uses terra cotta to transfer moisture to the mucilaginous seeds in small increments. What happens when using a terra cotta sprouter or saucer, it soaks up the water through the tiny holes in its surface, and when the mucilaginous seeds rest on the terra cotta, they draw water without becoming over-saturated and forming the gel sack. Basically, the terra cotta simulates the dry conditions that mucilaginous seeds are thought to have originated from, providing just enough water to trigger germination.

Placing the terra cotta sprouter in a small amount of water in a casserole dish for a period of days should yield thin plants that resemble both sprouts and microgreens, whose roots intertwine, creating their own sort-of growth medium.


grown brown mustard sprouts(Figure 4) Grown Brown Mustard

 

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  • Jordan Freytag
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