Alfalfa sprouts are the first tender, edible shoots that emerge from an alfalfa seed. They are crisp with a delicate, nutty taste, and they are commonly used in salads and sandwiches. You can prolong their freshness with proper handling and storage, just like with any fresh herb.
Rinse the alfalfa sprouts under running water. This cleans the sprouts and also provides some moisture that will help keep the sprouts fresh.
Pat the alfalfa sprouts dry with paper towels. It is not necessary to get the sprouts completely dry. The remaining moisture on the sprouts will actually help keep the sprouts crisp and fresh for a longer period of time.
Put the alfalfa sprouts in a plastic bag that seals at the top. Sealing the bag helps keep the moisture inside the bag.
Store the alfalfa sprouts in the vegetable or crisper compartment in the refrigerator for up to three or four days. The exact amount of time that sprouts will last depends on several factors including the freshness of the sprouts when you bought them. If the sprouts are crisp and free of mold or slime, then they are okay to eat.
Some growers distribute their alfalfa sprouts in a growing container. After washing, you can store the sprouts in the same container rather than a plastic bag.
There have been many salmonella outbreaks related to alfalfa sprouts. The latest salmonella outbreak, as reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on January 14, 2011, has sickened 125 people in 22 states. People at high risk for complications from salmonella infections should avoid alfalfa sprouts.