Most microgreens contain chloropyll, a green substance which can give them a bitter taste. While chlorophyll allows plants to absorb energy and obtain nutrients, it often creates a pungent, bitter flavor. While microgreens can have many different kinds of tastes, bitter is a common flavor.
What are microgreens?
Microgreens are young vegetable greens, which are harvested in the early life of a vegetable plant. More specifically, they are the seedlings of a vegetable harvested in the primary stage of the plant’s life.
While their name indicates they are microscopic in size, they typically measure only one to three inches long. Microgreens are leafy and light, falling somewhere between a vegetable sprout and a baby green. Both their leaves and stem are typically edible, depending on the parent plant.
When should I harvest my microgreen? Are microgreens distinct from sprouts?
Microgreens can be harvested anywhere from 7 to 21 days after germination, once the vegetable plant has its first leaves appear. Many find microgreens very convenient to grow and harvest, since they can be grown both inside and outside.
Differing from baby greens, microgreens can be sold to consumers before they are harvested. This allows consumers to continuously harvest and eat microgreens, directly from the plant.
It is also important to not confuse microgreens with sprouts. While sprouts are harvested within 2 to 7 days, microgreens take much longer. Sprouts also not do have leaves, while microgreens are known for their luscious, tiny leaves.
While microgreens are small, they typically have a higher concentration of nutrients than larger, normal vegetables. Since they have so many nutrients packed into a small green, the taste is often very concentrated and strong.
Why do microgreens taste so bitter? Does this mean they are not ready to eat?
You may think that your microgreens aren’t ready to eat if they taste bitter, acidic, and overall harsh. However, their bitter taste signals exactly the opposite. This does not mean they are rotten or under ripe, but that they are more concentrated in chlorophyll.
Often, microgreens rich in chlorophyll taste more bitter the longer you wait to harvest them. For example, sunflower shoots should be harvested after only a few days. If you wait any longer, the taste will gradually become more bitter.
Similar, pea microgreens should not be grown for too long before harvesting. At around 10 days, these are ready to harvest and enjoy. At this point, the microgreens are extremely fibrous, and delicious!
Do bitter microgreens have a distinct texture?
If you’re still wondering which microgreens often taste more bitter, this specific type of microgreen also has leaves with a rough texture. This may help in identifying which microgreens will have which flavor characteristics.
Which microgreens are most bitter?
Broccoli’s microgreens have a moderately bitter taste, just like raw broccoli before it’s cooked. The taste of these microgreens resemble that of the actual vegetable.
Kale’s microgreens are increasingly bitter, just like its parent plant. However, there are some kale varieties which some claim taste sweet.
Similarly, Quinoa’s microgreens have an earthy, bitter taste. They also have a tough, rough texture.
Finally, pea shoots or pea microgreens can taste very bitter, especially if they are harvested late.
Why should I eat microgreens?
As stated, microgreens are nutrient dense. While each microgreen plant is different, with different nutrients, many contain magnesium, iron, zinc, copper, and other vitamins and minerals. Furthermore, many microgreens contain antioxidants.
According to a study published by The Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, certain microgreens may lower cholestrol and aid in weight loss. The same study said that microgreens have up to 40 times the concentration of phytochemicals than their mature plant counterparts. In other words, microgreens are 40 times more dense than mature plants.
Microgreens may look small, but when it comes to packing nutrients, they are mighty!
How should I prepare microgreens? Are they intended to be eaten on their own?
Since microgreens are so small, they can be incorporated into a variety of dishes and recipes, often without people knowing.
For instance, microgreens can be put on top of pastas, toasts, and other savory dishes. In these types of recipes, they can be used to enhance the dish, and complement or contrast existing flavors.
However, you can also prepare microgreens in a way that you cannot taste them, especially if they are bitter and you do not like the flavor.
For instance, if you don’t want to taste the greens, you can blend them with a food processor or blender, to be cooked into baked goods such as pancakes. They can even be blended into smoothies, without anyone being able to taste the difference.
Using microgreens in this way helps make a lot of foods healthier, while not impacting their taste.
What vegetables are high in chlorophyll? Are there other ways for me to increase my chlorophyll intake?
Vegetables that are rich in chlorophyll content include:
- Collard Greens
You may be thinking that not all of these vegetables are very bitter. However, since microgreens have a much higher content of chlorophyll, given their higher nutrient to volume ratio, the taste will be much more intense when eating a microgreen.
If you don’t like vegetables or microgreens, there are still other ways to up your chlorophyll intake. For instance, you could eat more pistachios, cilantro, green grapes, or hemp seeds. There are also supplements for chlorophyll, in both liquid and pill form.
What if I don’t like bitter microgreens?
If you don’t like the bitterness of microgreens, there are other options of microgreen flavors for you to try.
For instance, other microgreens taste plain or neutral, spicy, or even sour. You should be sure to try several flavors before deciding that microgreens are not for you.
If you are trying to avoid excessively bitter microgreens, you should try buckwheat. This microgreen has a sweet, sour, and tangy flavor, that often pairs well with citrus.
You are probably already familiar with the microgreen of arugula. Unlike the bitter microgreens, arugula has a peppery, nutty, and overall savory flavor. It is one of the more popular microgreens, and only has a very slight bitter flavor.
Hi, I’m John Stephens, chief editor and writer for Totalgardener.com. I’ve been gardening and raising animals for over 15 years starting with a small backyard plot in Northern Virginia where I grew corn, potatoes, squash, and using a high mulch technique called the Ruth Stout Method. I also raised ducks and small mammals for meat and eggs in a movable pen similar to the ones used by Joel Salatin. I later moved to Colorado where I experimented with growing greens using aquaponics inside. I eventually added a microgreens setup and home sprouting operation. I’m excited to share everything I’ve learned plus more from the other local gardening and animal raising experts I know.