Yes, microgreens are natural. Microgreens are the edible seedling form of fully grown vegetables or greens. The seedling is harvested before the plant matures, which is why they are classified as microgreens and not “baby greens.”
Microgreens are typically 1″ to 1 1/2″ long and include the stem along with the leaves. Microgreens have surprising amounts of flavour for their size. Microgreens can be used as a nutrition supplement. They can also be used to add flavour, or texture, or visual appeal to a dish.
The remainder of this article will go over where microgreens come from, how to grow them, how to use them, the potential benefits of adding microgreens into your diet. We will also discuss the difference between microgreens and sprouts.
What Are Microgreens?
Microgreens are the naturally occurring tiny, young form of edible greens. Microgreens are greens that have been harvested just after the cotyledon leaves have developed. This means they are harvested after the first leaves appear. Microgreens are smaller than “baby greens” as they are consumed shortly after sprouting, whereas “baby greens” wait for the plant to mature and produce multiple leaves.
Where Do Microgreens Come From Naturally?
Vegetable, herb, or other edible plants are the source of microgreens. Microgreens can come from various vegetables such as arugula, basil, kale, and cilantro, to name a few. However, microgreens are not a new thing within the culinary world. Microgreens have been used since the 1980s and became heavily prevalent throughout the 1990s.
What Types of Microgreens Occur Naturally?
There are over 25 varieties of microgreens that can be harvested naturally, with new microgreens being discovered all the time.
Commonly grown microgreens include:
Do Microgreens Have Natural Health Benefits?
The most popular study conducted by USDA researchers in relation to microgreens discovered that growing conditions directly impact the natural nutritional content of microgreens. When grown in ideal conditions consisting of bright natural sunlight, the nutritional content of microgreens will be at maximum levels.
What Vitamins Naturally Occur in Microgreens?
Microgreens naturally contain concentrated amounts of vitamin C, E, and K. They should not be substituted for vegetables in one’s diet. However, they can help add vital nutrients to your meals.
What Other Nutrients are Found in Microgreens?
Microgreens have also been shown to provide a natural source of antioxidants and minerals that could play a role in fighting off disease and illness. These nutrients could benefit the eyes, skin, weight management as well as overall physical and mental health.
Polyphenols are naturally occurring in microgreens which can help reduce the risk of heart disease, Alzheimer’s, and cancer. Microgreens can also be used to source essential minerals such as potassium, iron, zinc, and magnesium.
How Are Microgreens Grown?
The seed used to grow microgreens is the same seed used to produce the full-sized vegetable, green, or herb. The greens are simply harvested before they develop into larger plants. To begin growing, first, decide on your desired seed and acquire them through your local plant nursery or online.
While some varieties of microgreens can be found in nature, for sake of convenience and quantity it is best to grow microgreens directly.
How to Grow Microgreens Outside
To grow microgreens outside, make sure the soil is loose. Since these greens will be harvested early on in the growing process, a lot of room is not needed. Sprinkle the seeds where you wish to plant them, and make sure to cover the seeds with a thin layer of soil. After planting, water gently. It is essential to keep the soil moist and remove any weeds that appear as the greens begin to grow.
How to Grow Microgreens Inside
When planting indoors, make sure your greens are planted in a spot where they will be subjected to plenty of sunlight. It is important to use a container that is not too shallow or too deep. A container around 2 inches deep is sufficient. While growing indoors, organic, natural potting soil is ideal for microgreens.
Regardless of location, microgreens should be watered approximately every other day. Depending on levels of sunlight and soil quality, watering may need to be more frequent. Microgreens also require high levels of natural sunlight to thrive.
How to Use Microgreens
When using microgreens, one can choose a singular type of seedling, or a variety can be mixed to create a combination of tastes, textures, colours, etc. Microgreens can be used in almost any dish to increase flavour and nutrition.
One thing to note when using microgreens is that raw greens retain all of the nutrition. Microgreens will lose some of their nutrients when cooked but still maintain most of their flavour. If cooking with microgreens, the greens should be added at the end of the cooking process as they do not withstand heat well.
Microgreens can be used in salads, sandwiches, as a garnish on a finished dish, in juices or smoothies, and much more.
Can Microgreens Make You Sick?
Microgreens are not naturally associated with food-borne illnesses. There is not a high chance of microgreens making you sick. Microgreens can only make you sick if they contain harmful bacteria, which can be caused by hydroponic growing methods. If microgreens are grown in soil and sunlight, you should not get sick.
Microgreens vs. Sprouts
Microgreens are not the same thing as sprouts. Sprouts are germinated seeds and, when eaten, consist of the seed, root, stem, and underdeveloped leaves. Sometimes, sprouts have been linked to food-borne illnesses. Sprouts are produced solely in water inside closed containers. The growing time for sprouts is typically about two days. The growing conditions for sprouts encourage the growth of harmful bacteria.
Microgreens, however, are not produced in water. Microgreens are naturally grown in soil or a soil substitute such as peat or moss. Ideally, microgreens are grown in bright, natural sunlight with low humidity and ample fresh air. Growing time ranges from 1-6 weeks. The growing conditions for microgreens does not encourage the growth of dangerous bacteria.