Even the smallest counter space can accommodate this excellent addition to salads or as a snack on the go. Microgreens, also known as "vegetable confetti," are a variety of edible, immature greens. They are harvested with scissors less than one month after germination, and plants are up to 2 inches tall. Unlike sprouts, where you can eat the root, seed and shoot, only the stem, cotyledons (seed leaves) and the first set of true leaves are edible.
Like all plants, some varieties are better suited than others to be grown as microgreens. Salad greens, herbs and edible flowers are suitable for beginners. If you're new to planting microgreens, start with one type of seed, like broccoli, chia or sunflower. They are the easiest to grow.
Microgreens vary in taste, from spicy to bland. The flavour, generally speaking, is considered strong and concentrated. They are also packed with nutrients like potassium, iron, zinc, magnesium and copper. The nutrient content is concentrated, resulting in higher vitamin, mineral and antioxidant levels compared to the same quantity of mature greens.
Microgreens are considered safe to eat when appropriately grown with good ventilation and at least four hours of sun per day (or a grow light). As a rule of thumb, always buy seeds from a reputable company and increase the microgreens in mediums that are free from contamination. Compostable, single-use growing mats are produced specifically for this purpose and are considered very sanitary.
Wash microgreens before eating them with cold water. Use a salad spinner to dry them! Like most vegetables, eating them raw will provide the most benefit. However, microgreens can be added to any warm meal like pizza, soups, omelets and curries. They are a nutritious addition to smoothies, salads and wraps.
Growing your microgreens is an excellent way to get children involved in planting their food. It's easy to maintain, and children can even harvest their own (with adult supervision or help with scissors). Children who learn how their food is grown are also more prone to keep doing so in adulthood.
Oregon State U Extension Services offers a 15-day microgreen grow-along course for free!
Note: Always be aware of allergic reactions when introducing new food to your diet. Or check with your healthcare provider or nutritionist.