While there seems to be mixed information out there as to which is better, sprouts or microgreens, the general consensus is that microgreens pack a more powerful nutritional punch and are generally safer to eat due to how they are grown. There are also hundreds of varieties of microgreens whereas there are only a limited variety of sprouts.
Most people probably don’t even know the difference between a sprout and a microgreen. The main differences are in their growth stage, how they are grown, and their flavor. Either way, both sprouts, and microgreens are generally more nutritious than older, more mature plants and are a great choice for people trying to add some healthy toppings to their recipes.
The rest of the article below will go into detail about the differences between sprouts and microgreens. In addition, it will explain how to grow and harvest your own at home.
What is a sprout?
A sprout is simply a germinated seed. This means that the seed has “woken up” and begun to grow its first little stem. According to Urban Cultivator, growing sprouts requires nothing but a container and a little bit of water to start the germination process. This growing process is rather quick, only requiring approximately 4 to 6 days of growth between harvesting. When you eat a sprout, you are eating both the seed and stem. Sprouts are fresh, crunchy, watery, and have a mild flavor.
The caution here is that these growing conditions are also a great environment for mold and bacteria and as many as 30 people have reported foodborne illnesses related to growing sprouts since 1996, according to Foodsafety.gov. To avoid this, it is important to rinse your sprouts often, at least twice a day, to avoid the cultivation of these unwanted growths.
What supplies do I need for growing my own microgreens?
When it comes to growing your own sprouts, you can use a glass jar or specialized containers that easily allow you to rinse the sprouts twice a day. According to Herbs at Home, you may find screens that are designed to fit onto mason jars or specialized filtration bags to make the rinsing process quick and easy.
How do I harvest my sprouts?
According to Herbs at Home, when your sprouts have germinated and grown to the appropriate size, you can place them in bright, yet indirect, sunlight for a day to allow them to turn green using photosynthesis. Afterward, rinse and dry them as much as possible using a clean cloth or a salad spinner.
Can I store my sprouts?
According to Sprout People, your sprouts should be dry to the touch before storing them in the refrigerator. They recommend using a salad spinner or leaving them out to dry for 8-12 hours before storing them. The sprouts should then be put into an airtight container or a sealed plastic bag. If the sprouts are still slightly wet or warm, you can poke a few holes in the bag to air them out.
How can I use sprouts?
Due to the mild flavor of sprouts, they can be used to top a variety of dishes from salads, to sandwiches, to some Asian cuisine to give them a fresh and crunchy boost.
What is a microgreen?
A microgreen is a plant that has been allowed to grow beyond its “sprout” stage but is harvested before it becomes a baby green. According to Urban Cultivator, this means that it has grown large enough to have its first set of leaves. Another key difference is that microgreens are grown in soil and require the proper growing conditions including nutrients, light, water, and ventilation.
When you eat a microgreen, you are only eating the stems and leaves and not the seeds as they will remain in the soil after you harvest them. Microgreens usually take a bit longer to grow, usually between 8 to 14 days. Microgreens generally have more flavor than both sprouts and baby greens. This flavor will vary depending on the type of plant. For example, sunflower seed microgreens can have a sweet and nutty flavor.
What supplies do I need for growing my own microgreens?
You can use any shallow container for growing your microgreens such as standard growing trays or even leftover containers. Be sure to poke holes in the bottom of the container for drainage, otherwise, you may drown your seeds. You will also need potting soil and of course sunflower seeds. You may also choose to have a water mister which allows you to mist your seeds and greens to avoid overwatering them.
What are some growing tips?
Here are some additional tips to help you grow your own microgreens.
- Ensure your growing tray is clean to avoid any contamination.
- Fill the tray with approximately 1-2 inches of loosely compacted soil.
- Spread seeds evenly throughout the tray without overseeding.
- Cover the seeds with a light layer of soil.
- Place in an area that receives direct sunlight.
- Keep the soil moist by watering regularly.
- Use a knife or sharp scissors to harvest your microgreens.
What are the common problems when growing microgreens?
It isn’t uncommon for many microgreen beginners to see a variety of issues when starting out. Microveggy lists some common issues such as mold or mildew, falling over, slow germination, uneven growth, yellowing, and dirty harvesting. To easily avoid these issues, be sure to do a little bit of research prior to growing your own microgreens.
How can I use microgreens?
Microgreens can be used in a variety of ways. They can be used in salads and sandwiches, added to smoothies, garnished onto soups, and whatever else you can think of. According to Herbs at Home, the only thing that you shouldn’t do with them is to cook them because the heat will reduce their vitamin and nutrient content.