What Are Microgreens?
Microgreens are seedlings of edible plants.
They have density of nutrition, intensity of flavor, and exquisite beauty.
Microgreens are easy to grow and require little space, making them perfect for people to grow themselves on their kitchen counter or windowsill.
Microgreens can also be very profitable when grown at a commercial scale as increasing awareness of these powerful superfoods is raising the demand for them higher than ever.
Microgreens are super nutritious.
Plants grow from seeds. We learn this in 1st grade science class. What many don’t reaize, however, is that inside a seed is actually a tiny little embyonic plant, along with all the nutrients the little plant needs to sprout and begin growing. (Kind of like a baby chick inside an egg.)
So, when microgreen seedlings first emerge from the soil (or non-soil growing medium) they contain much greater concentrations of nutrients than their mature-plant counterparts. In fact, university studies, conducted in conjunction with the United States Department of Agriculture, have found that microgreens contained, on average, 5 times – and in some cases up to 40 times – the nutrients of their mature plant counterparts! Wow!
More in-depth information about the nutritional benefits of microgreens can be found in our article “Health Benefits of Microgreens.”
Microgreens have an intensity of flavor.
In the same way that microgreens contain a concentration of nutrition, they also contain a concentration of flavor. Whatever type of plant they are, they taste like a concentrated version of that vegetable. So, radish microgreens have a powerful, concentrated flavor of radishes. (In fact, some people find them too spicy. Personally, I think they taste AMAZING on tacos!)
Broccoli microgreens taste like, you guessed it…broccoli, intensified.
Do sunflower microgreens taste like sunflowers? Well, I’ve never eaten a sunflower. But I can tell you that sunflower microgreens are sweet, crunchy and juicy with a slight nutty flavor. It is definitely one of my favorites.
This is particularly thought provoking for the culinarily-minded when you think about microgreen versions of culinary herbs – also know as micro herbs. Micro basil in pesto? Micro cilantro in salsa? Just the thoughts are making me hungry….
Microgreens are beautiful.
The beauty of microgreens have caused them to gain popularity with chefs, who often use them as garnishes. Microgreens are usually intensely green, of course; but often there are hints of other colors, such as red, orange, pink and yellow as well. In fact, my preferred source for microgreen seeds even has a filter setting that allows you to search by color.
The delicate, symmetrical little leaves (known as cotyledons) not only help thes chefs make a plate into an edible artwork, but the intense flavor adds an accent to the dish that can take it to the next level.
Microgreens are easy and fast to grow.
Since microgreens are harvested in the seedling stage, they can be grown and ready to eat very rapidly. Quick germinating varieties such as radish and arugula can be ready to harvest in as little as a week. Even at the long end of the spectrum (celery, chervil, borage) it is still usually less than a month from planting to harvest.
This is particulary helpful for new growers. For someone who does not have alot of experience gardening or growing their own food, a quick result that is tasty and delicious can be a huge boost of confidence. Of course, it is recommended to start with the easiest and fastest varieties and expand from there. Check out our article “The EASIEST Microgreens to Grow”
Growing microgreens can be a profitable business.
As knowledge and awareness about microgreens grows, so does the demand for them. There are people out there who literally make thousands of dollars a month growing microgreens in their basement. Of course, success varies, and no results are guaranteed. In my research into the profitablility of growing microgreens as a business I have discovered that as much, if not more, time is spent processing, packaging and marketing the microgreens as is spent in actually growing them. Because they are a fresh and perishable commodity, much of the success depends on the area in which one lives, the demand in that particular area, and the number of other growers within a certain radius.
[The COVID-19 outbreak has greatly affected the restaurant business, which has previously been one of the major consumers of commercially grown microgreens. I am not qualified to give financial or business advice. Please find someone who is before launching into any enterprise.]
Just try them.
If you haven’t tried microgreens for yourself yet, you are missing out. They are one of the easiest and quickest ways to add a huge boost of flavor and nutrition into your diet.
If you’re brave and adventurous, go ahead and take the plunge into growing some of your own food right in your own kitchen. Our guide to growing them can be found in our article “Easy, 8-Step Method For Growing Microgreens Indoors.”
But even if you’re not ready to start growing them yourself, start keeping your eye out for them available for sale. There was a time when you had to go to a farmer’s market or health food store to find microgreens, but as awareness of their amazing benefits continues to grow, they can now be found in the produce section of many grocery stores. (Even the small, independently-owned grocery store in the small town near where I live now carries them!)
Buy a pack and just try adding them to your sandwich, your salad, your smoothie, your tacos!
If you’re able to buy them still growing in their little flat, you can keep them growing right in your windowsill for up to a couple weeks (If you don’t eat them first!) and just harvest them as needed with a pair of scissors or a knife. If I have pea shoots growing in my window, even my teenage son will grab one here and there and eat it raw! (Makes me a very happy mama.)
Whether you grow them yourself, or buy them already grown, do yourself a favor and try microgreens. I think you’ll be glad you did.