Besides whimsical and delightful, what are microgreens?
They are eye catching, pops of green and purple and white and every shade in between. They are lean, mean, garnishing machines that offer a delicate crunch and peppery taste. But… like. What are they?
Microgreens are perfectly placed in the category ‘does exactly what it says on the tin’. They are young seedlings of edible vegetables and herbs. Mustard greens, Kale, Arugula, Spinach, Radish greens, Watercress, Peas, Cabbage, Basil, coriander, broccoli, beetroot, mizuna and fennel to name a few. Up to 60 varieties can be used to make micro greens!! Unlike larger herbs and vegetables that take weeks or months to grow, microgreens can be harvested and eaten after anywhere from 7 to 21 days of grow time.
These green tweens are of relatively recent history (Sorry Romans, no Microgreen myths or aphrodisiacs this time). They first appeared on dinner plates in California circa 1985, in some pretty swanky establishments. The first Microgreens were limited to fine dining and boutique grocery stores due to the high cost of production. After each harvest, growers needed fresh soil, seed and a sterilized container or growing mat to repeat the growing process. These costs add up compared to mature herbs and vegetables that grow back after they’re initially cut or trimmed.
Ok, so you're not getting your daily dose of anything from microgreens, but one study found they can be up to 40 times more potent in phytochemicals than their macro counterparts.
Another study analyzed 25 microgreens and on average found them to have four to six times more nutrients than their mature counterparts. For example, red cabbage microgreens had 40 times more vitamin E and six times more vitamin C, while cilantro microgreens had three times more beta-carotene. It has also been found that regular consumption of microgreens might help people with gastric problems and even assist in preventing stomach cancer. Brassicas in particular (broccoli, cabbage, kale etc) were linked to cancer prevention. Highest ranking was radish and daikon. Among the microgreens assessed, red cabbage had the highest concentration of vitamin C, cilantro had the highest concentration of carotenoids.
Mighty little greens, punching above their weight! The downside to their relative weight to nutrient ratio is the cost to produce enough to make a major difference to your diet. You’re still better off thinking of them as a super garnish, not a super food.
To store: Make sure they are dry (If not, gently lay out on a paper towel and pat dry) then store in your fridge in a sealed bag or container for up to 7 days.
Sandwiches, wraps and salads. Oh my! We're all pretty familiar with our microgreens turning up there. They are also great
blended into smoothies or juiced. That's putting the nutrient density to use! Wheatgrass juice is a popular example of a juiced microgreen. Another option is to use them as a garnish on pizzas, soups, omelets, curries, baked potatoes and other warm dishes. It can give a really interesting contrast and fresh vibe to an otherwise heavier food.
Try these on for size! Rainbow radish and edible flower salad with blood orange vinaigrette OR Ricotta cheese, pistachio and microgreens pizza…
thenonchalantcook/rainbow- radish-and-edible-flower- salad-with-blood-orange- vinaigrette