Microgreens: Little wonders can add taste and flavor to your diet (Really!)

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What are microgreens?

Multiple microgreens and microherbs growing side by side
Multiple microgreens and microherbs growing side by side.

Microgreens are edible, a small version of fully mature vegetables and herbs. When seeds start to germinate, it is called sprout and when sprout grows to form leaves and stem it is called microgreen. Microgreens like spinach, broccoli, beets, radish, Swiss chard, kale and herbs like basil, dill, cilantro, and mint etc. Many flowers such as sunflower, rose, basil blossoms, chive flowers, and torenia etc. are now grown as micro-greens and are used in desserts, drinks, dressings to garnish and to add zest to the food.

Benefits of microgreens

Health Benefits of micro-greens.
Health Benefits of micro-greens.

Even though they are often confused with sprouts but they are nevertheless same as they are bigger in size than sprouts. However,  they are also highly rich in nutrition content. Consuming all green leafy vegetables or other plant-based foods are good for health because they reduce the risk of heart diseases, obesity, blood pressure etc. In fact, micro-greens i.e. compact plants are immensely concentrated with nutrients. Different micro-greens like Swiss chard, kale, beets, spinach etc. are rich in nutrients like Vitamin A, C, E, K and carotenoids such as lutein, beta-carotene, and minerals such as folate, manganese etc. The nutrient content in these tiny greens is about 5 times greater than grown-up plants. They are the potential source of carbohydrates, proteins, anti-oxidants, phytonutrients, polyphenols and different enzymes, therefore, they make their digestion easier.

How to grow microgreens?

Growing microgreens in kitchen near window.
Growing microgreens in the kitchen near the window.

They are easy to grow and manage. Moreover, they do not take much space in the kitchen garden. Indoor production is also possible if they are provided with grow light. It doesn’t require any prior experience or extensive knowledge of farming.

If you want to grow indoor:

Procedure to grow microgreens.
Procedure to grow microgreens.
  1. Spread the potting soil or mix to an inch or two in shallow tray /container. Make it flatten and thereafter level it on the top with your hands or cardboard. Avoid over-compressing it.

    Seeds started sprouting in shallow tray grown inside.
    Seeds started sprouting in shallow tray.
  2. Moist the soil with water and keep it by the window in sunlight or near the source of grow light.
  3. Spread the seeds uniformly and close together in the soil.
  4. Cover the seeds with a very thin layer of soil and moist the surface with water.
  5. Try to keep the soil moist not wet to help them germinate.

    Microgreens ready to harvest.
    Microgreens ready to harvest.
  6. Seeds usually sprout in 3 to 7 days and in 14 days they grow leaves and reaches 1 to 3 inches tall.
  7. Depending on different seeds and varieties, micro-greens take 2-3 weeks to grow leaves after sowing.
  8. Carefully cut the greens from just above the soil layer using scissors.

    Chef cutting the microgreens meticulously using scissor.
    Chef cutting the microgreens meticulously using scissor.

If you want to grow outdoors:

  1. Make a raised bed of soil in the garden.

    An example of raised bed in garden
    An example of raised bed in garden.
  2. Spread the seeds uniformly and close together over the bed.
  3. Cover the seeds with a very thin layer of soil and moist the surface with water.

    Fully mature microgreens ready for harvest
    Fully mature microgreens ready for harvest.
  4. Rest of the procedure is similar to the indoor production

Key Points to take care while growing microgreens:

  1. Make raised beds of 1-2 inches to provide them enough space to grow.
  2. While making raised beds in the garden, divide them into sections for different species.
  3. After spreading the soil, cover them with the layer of soil.
  4. Keep the soil moist, not wet.
  5. If growing indoors, place your tray in sunlight or near grow light."<yoastmark
  6. If growing outdoors, cover the beds with clear plastic in winters and with shade cloth in summers.
  7. In indoor production, growth time can be sped up by using warming mat under shallow tray.
  8. They are tiny and sensitive, therefore should be carefully harvested and washed.

    Lightly washing microgreens in strainer
    Lightly washing microgreens in strainer.
  9. Before planting another variety, either remove the roots of the previous ones or replace the entire potting mixture.
  10. They have a comparatively shorter shelf life of 3-5 days after harvest.
  11. For longer shelf life, try to harvest the greens along with their roots and pack them in a plastic container and refrigerate.

Uses of micro-greens:

These resourceful and handy microgreens can smartly replace regular greens. They are rich in nutrients, color, flavor and appearance. Therefore, used for garnishing and as a flavoring agent to salads, wraps, sandwiches, desserts and dishes.

Adding flavor to tomato soup with microgreens.
Adding flavor to tomato soup with microgreens.
Garnishing of microgreens on Kimchi-fried rice
Garnishing of microgreens on Kimchi-fried rice.

Recipes such as guacamole, cocktails, ice-creams, tacos, smoothies and garden salads etc are enriched with micro-greens. Chefs of fine dine restaurants uses micro-green vegetable and herbs to enhance both visual and flavor attractiveness. In addition, they also provide very intense flavors like spicy, sweet, sour, tangy, mild or peppery depending on the plant.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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