Microgreens are young vegetable greens with pre-developed roots and first cotyledons. They differ from more known sprouts grown in water and eaten with the seed before the cotyledons develop. In microgreens, stems and leaves are edible, without seeds - as those are left in the ground. Microgreens, compared with sprouts, are edible plants harvested much later after germination. We eat them raw for their best nutritional value. We use them to liven up our plate, to emphasize the flavor and texture of the dish and to add nutritional value to our food.
There are many origins of microgreens. We use seeds from many different plant families, such as vegetables, herbs, legumes, cereals, and even flowers. Every sort has a distinctive look, and they also differ in taste. Their great advantage is that we can grow them all year round, right on our windowsill.
What microgreens have in common is their exceptional nutritional value
These tiny plants contain highly concentrated nutrients and enzymes precisely because of their size. Very fresh microgreens contain the most viable digestive enzymes to support digestion. They contain high levels of minerals, such as zinc, magnesium, copper, and potassium. There are also vitamins C, A, E and B. Of course, the values of nutrients vary in sort just as they vary in full-grown plants. They also contain additional carotenoid substances that act as antioxidants. Microgreens have very high alkaline levels according to their pH, therefore it is recommended to eat them daily. Their daily consumption helps with acidification of our body which is often the cause for degenerative diseases. It is not necessary to eat microgreens in huge amounts, as they contain more minerals, vitamins and antioxidants than the same amount of a full grown edible plant.
Based on their low caloric value and high levels of nutrients, they are known as super-food.
Taste and color
Microgreens are in all colors of the rainbow, so we can play with them as garnish on our dish and always create a different plate. Color contrasts liven up a usually ordinary dish and add different textures to a sandwich or a wrap. As we said before, microgreens differ significantly in sort, taste and color, therefore it does not make sense to generalize them excessively. Some are slightly spicy, others are sweet, and all carry the notes of the plant they would grow into. Thus, radish microgreens taste slightly spicy and sunflower seed microgreens taste slightly like the sunflower seeds. Exploring different textures in combination with flavors is an individual area. Try it out!
Microgreens are consumed in one to three weeks of growth, depending on the sort. They don't need much. Just plant pre-soaked seeds a centimeter underground. They can also be successfully grown on a mineral fiber cushion and soil is not required in this case. Bigger seeds, like sunflower, bean and pea, can be soaked overnight for faster growth. Just use your imagination to choose the seeds. You can buy all supplies for growing microgreens at home, from seeds to nursery tray and soil, online or in local horticultural supply stores. Put the planted seeds on a kitchen shelf so that they are exposed to as much sunlight as possible. Make sure you provide them with a warm and moist environment before they sprout. Until the seeds are sprouted above the soil, they can be covered with plastic or textile cover with oxygen supply holes. Then spray the soil daily with water and keep it moist at all times, but not too much as you do not want to drown the seeds. Check the moisture of the soil with your fingers. A water spray nozzle is used for steady moisture. When plants sprout above the soil, they can be fertilized with marine algae fertilizer, which makes plants even richer with nutrients. Cut them above the soil within a few weeks and serve. If you plant them with time-delay, you can ensure a steady supply of the freshest microgreens.
Microgreens are sustainable
Today's cultivation and distribution of food around the world is no longer sustainable, especially in big cities where vegetables are largely not produced locally. At the same time it is constantly emphasized how most of the world population lack minerals in their bodies. Research on the nutritional value of microgreens not sprouted from the soil but from mineral cushions, is a potential solution to the problem of sustainability and the lack of nutrients. The results have shown that the nutritional value of microgreens grown on the mineral cushion is lower than that of those grown in the soil. Although the value is still higher compared to conventionally purchased vegetables. Microgreens are a terrific solution for big cities where there is a lack of organically grown vegetables.
Growing these super-nutritious plants is simple and very rewarding.
Xioa et al. (2012) Assessment of vitamin and carotenoid concentrations of emerging food products: edible microgreens.