Why micro greens?
There are so many wonderful benefits to growing and eating microgreens. We love growing them on our farm! Especially in the winter when the rest of the crops are no longer growing or are in dormancy, we are still able to grow micro greens and eat them all year round. I am super excited to share with you all about microgreens!
Microgreens are so much fun and are ready to be harvested within 7 - 14 days! This is much different than many other crops that take months to reach harvest size.
What exactly are microgreens?
Microgreens are essentially seedlings of edible vegetables and herbs. They are harvested once their cotyledons (aka first true leaf) are fully developed. They are not specific to any one plant, and do not even need to be a green plant as the name implies! There are SO many different types of micro greens such as kale, arugula, broccoli, cabbage, pea, sunflower, mizuna, celery, beets, amaranth and so many more!
Microgreens are extremely healthy and nutritious. Generally they will have the same type of vitamins and minerals as the full sized plant, but are concentrated in a small little green. A study in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry found that microgreens nutritional content vary greatly, but many varieties of microgreens have even higher levels of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants as the full mature plant. Some varieties contained up to 40 times more nutrients by weight than the full sized plant! This includes vitamin C, D, K, A, folate, manganese, several types of polyphenols and antioxidants. Polyphenols and antioxidants help reduce inflammation and chronic disease.
Vitamin C helps to increase the absorption of iron, is an antioxidant, helps in the formation of collagen, aids in wound healing, improves immune function and helps with protein metabolism.
Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin that can be produced internally by the body as well as be obtained from food. It also helps to promote calcium absorption, is needed for bone health, helps improve immune function and is important for reducing inflammation.
Vitamin K is a fat soluble vitamin as well and is known for its need for blood clotting and bone metabolism.
Vitamin A is a fat soluble vitamin which is important for vision, supports bone health, improves the immune system and is important for development.
Another big reason why I love micro greens is that they stay fresh for a REALLY long time. Think about fresh greens in your refrigerator which may start to wilt just after a couple of days. With micro greens stored in a plastic bag (please reuse it several times!) they are still super fresh and crispy up to a week and a half or more!
Micro greens are also very easy to use. There is no washing or chopping. They are already micro size, so it is super easy just to grab them and add them to a dish. I know the prep works is a big hindrance when it comes to eating lots of fresh fruits and vegetables.
How they are grown
Micro greens can be grown either hydroponically or in soil. We grow all our microgreens in soil. The soil we use is Sunshine mix #4 and is a really great seed starting formula. Micro greens do not need true soil with compost, fertilizer etc, just a growing medium for the cotyledons to develop is all they need. This is different than full sized crops which start in this type of seed starting soil until they are ready to be transplanted outside to grow to full size. Depending on the variety, microgreens will stay in an environment for several days, and once they germinate and grow an inch or so they will be moved to be under light. They will take anywhere from 7 - 14 days to to full size.
How to eat/use
Micro greens can be consumed a number of ways! The most common is throwing them in a salad. In general they are going to taste like their full grown plant. So China Rose Radish are generally a little spicy, while sunflower micro greens taste nutty. Micro greens are great for toppings on sandwiches, tacos, eggs, stir-frys, in smoothies or just thrown on your plate for extra crunch and nutrition!
Have you ever tried micro greens? If so - what is your favorite way to eat them?