What are Microgreens? And furthermore, why should you care to add something so small to your everyday meal plans?
By the end of this article hopefully, you will have the answers to these two questions.
What Are Microgreens?
Microgreens are becoming more and more popular, not only with high-end restaurants and foodies but with anyone wanting to add an explosion of nutrition and taste to their meals.
In the 1980's, microgreens were used mainly for a garnish to dress up a plate (usually a plate with little food on it) and to add a bit of freshness to the dish.
But now, packages of microgreens are finding their way not only into farmer markets but also in local grocery stores. Not just for aesthetically pleasing aspects, but because of the nutritional value and additional flavor.
Before we get into the nutritional and flavor benefits of microgreens, let's discuss precisely what microgreens are.
Microgreens are the seedlings of edible vegetables, herbs, and sometimes flowers.
Harvesting of microgreens occurs when the embryonic first leaves (cotyledon leaves) and young plant stems have reached a length of two or three inches or when the first true leaves have begun to form.
In some cases, such as with cilantro and basil, harvesting can wait until the first true leaves a bit bigger.
Why Eat Seedlings and Not Mature Plants?
It seems counterintuitive to eat seedlings and not wait until the plant matures. After all, the mature plant must have more nutrition, right?
That isn't always the case.
In fact, a study in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry reports microgreen cotyledon leaves can possess higher nutritional densities than mature plants.
Some microgreens have 30 to 40 the amount of vitamins and minerals by weight than their mature vegetables.
Besides the nutritional benefits, microgreens add unique flavors to foods and of course, we can't forget how visually appealing microgreens are as garnishes on prepared plates of food.
The intense flavors, textural contrasts, and complex flavor profiles add to almost any dish.
Besides a garnish or an addition to salads, microgreens can be used as ingredients in food. Especially soups and egg dishes.
The nutritional benefits of microgreens are even more significant when you use various greens in one dish.
No one would think of serving 3 or 4 steamed vegetables in the same meal, but you can use smaller amounts of multiple microgreens providing you with a more nutritious meal.
Adding a variety of microgreens increases the number of vitamins and minerals in the meal.
Click the button below to download a chart listing the nutritional benefits of the most common microgreens.
How to Beat the High Price of Microgreens
There are a couple of downfalls of microgreens, however.
One, they can be expensive and somewhat hard to find in some areas. Also, often limited varieties of microgreens are available.
The power of microgreens is to stack or use a variety of greens to increase the nutritional value of your meals.
Second, once cut microgreens can lose their nutritional and flavor value. As young plants, they deteriorate quickly.
Microgreens should be refrigerated as soon as possible after harvest in a dry condition. Many growers reduce their liability by washing their harvested microgreens.
If not dried properly, the semi-wet greens will start decomposing quickly.
The Way Around These Two Issues
The best way around cost and availability is to grow your own microgreens!
They are easy to grow right in your home using inexpensive equipment. No strong grow lights are needed. Microgreens can grow fine using indirect light or on a sunny windowsill.
There are many articles on the Home Microgreens website to get you started growing your microgreens.
Purchasing additional seed to grow your microgreens is inexpensive, and many more varieties are available by seed then as greens.
The other advantage to growing your microgreens is harvesting. Instead of buying microgreens in wet plastic bags and run the risk of them going bad, you can cut what you need anytime you want!
Using a pair of scissors, cut what you want to use and put the tray back and let them grow some more.
- Microgreens are edible seedlings of selective vegetables and herbs.
- These seedlings are harvested just prior to, or soon after the first true leaves form.
- Although these young plants are only 2- to 3-inches tall, the nutritional value of the plants are several times higher by weight than the mature plants.
- Because the nutritional value is high you use less plant volume to receive the same nutrition. Therefore, you can add multiple microgreen varieties to a meal increasing the number of vitamins and minerals you can consume in each meal.
- Microgreens are very flavorful and add interesting textures to your food.
- Microgreens are easy to grow indoors and go from seed to harvest in 10 to 14 days for most varieties.
- Purchase a kit today and grow your own nutritious and flavorful microgreens right in your own home!
- Microgreens are living supplements!
Have a Question?
If you have any questions about the information in this post or microgreens in general please leave a comment below or reach out to me using the Ask a Question page.
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