Today I’d like to introduce you to a topic close to my heart (and plate) – Microgreens.
You may have heard of them before, or even eaten them at a restaurant.
small plants are easy to grow in your home, and require so little space that they are ideal for anyone wanting to plant and harvest their own food.
If you have a sunny window and 30 seconds a day, you can have it on your plate in no time at all.
A microgreen is an immature plant, usually a vegetable, grain or herb, that is harvested shortly after its first true leaves* appear. They vary in length from 1-3 inches tall. In the kitchen, they are used for their color, appearance, texture, flavor and nutritional value.
How are they different from sprouts? Sprouts are partially germinated, or fully germinated seeds. These seeds are usually soaked 6-8 hours in water, then kept in a sprouting jar, and rinsed several times daily until eaten.
Microgreens are planted and grown in soil and prefer less humidity and moisture than sprouts. They only require a few inches of soil to grow in, since they are harvested before they reach full maturity.
1. Shallow container, about 4” tall, with drainage holes in the bottom
2. Organic potting soil, or organic seed starting soil
3. Seeds of choice (see below)
4. Water (I usually use a spray bottle)
5. A sunny windowsill, or porch space, depending on your local weather
6. Scissors for harvesting
1. Fill a shallow container ¾ full with organic potting soil. Be sure the container has drainage holes for water poked in the bottom. I repurpose plastic strawberry containers by cutting off the lids. I place the removed lid under the container and use it as a drainage plate.
2. Press the soil firmly into the container and dampen it. Then, sprinkle seeds evenly over the surface of the soil. Lightly sprinkle another layer of soil over the top of these seeds. Then gently water again. (I use a spray bottle to water the seeds after covering them with soil.)
3. Place the container in a warm place. Keep the soil moist (with a spray bottle) until the seeds have sprouted. Then, move the container to a sunny window and water daily.
4. Be ready to harvest about 10-14 days after planting. The exact time will depend on the types of seeds planted. They will usually be between 1-2 inches tall, and have their first set of true leaves. To harvest, simply snip off the stem, just above the level of the soil. Then, place the contents of the container in your compost bin. You can rinse the container, allow to dry completely, then repeat the process!
Experiment! Most seeds will grow up to be delicious microgreens. Most taste very much like their adult version. Arugula will be spicy and slightly nutty. Radishes are spicy and fresh. Basil tastes like basil, and so on.
I love to keep amaranth microgreens in my kitchen because of their beautiful maroon color. Some of my personal favorites to grow are: basil, beetroot, arugula, mesclun salad mix, radish, mizuna, and amaranth.
What about nutrition? Several studies have shown higher concentrations of vitamins and minerals in microgreens than in their full-grown counterparts. This is attributed to the harvest time; seedlings require high concentrations of nutrients in order to germinate. Microgreens are harvested shortly after germination, these nutrients are still present in high concentration.
Microgreens make beautiful garnishes for any type of plate. Add a sprinkle to top soups, appetizers, salads, sandwiches or entrees.
Julie Fenn is a Holistic, Natural Foods Chef, cooking snow or shine, in Denver, Colorado. She graduated in 2013 from the Natural Gourmet Institute in New York City and now combines her holistic culinary expertise with almost a decade of experience working as a Registered Nurse.
You can find her creating, photographing and taste-testing her way across the Front Range.
Her Website is: www.DynamicShallot.com