Microgreens are a hot trend in the food world, and many nutritionists swear by them. They’re tiny, young greens harvested before they become leafy plants. Don’t let their size deceive you. Once sprouted, they’re flavorful and packed with nutrients. The best part is that you can harvest them all winter long using just a few containers on your kitchen counter.
Microgreens are easy to grow indoors and need little space or sunlight. You can grow them on windowsills that get direct sunlight or under artificial light. Either way, you’ll watch them sprout into edible sprigs of nutritional goodness.
Types of Microgreens
You can choose from a variety of types. Some of the more popular microgreens include broccoli, radish, arugula, spinach, beetroot, cress and fennel. Be aware that you shouldn’t grow microgreens from nightshade vegetables, like eggplant, tomatoes, peppers or potatoes since their stems may contain toxins.
The Nutritional Benefits of Microgreens
One of the most appealing aspects of microgreens is their nutrient density. Mature greens are packed with vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity, but microgreens put mature greens to shame with up to 40 times the nutrients of their more mature counterparts. You’ll enjoy exceptional nutrient density in every bite.
Microgreens are a good source of iron, zinc, magnesium and potassium, giving them benefits for heart, immune function and supporting healthy red blood cells. Microgreens are also rich in lutein, beta-carotene and zeaxanthin, which protect the light-sensitive retina in the back of your eye from damage that leads to macular degeneration and cataracts.
Difference Between Sprouts vs. Microgreens
Sprouts are germinated or partially germinated plant seeds with roots, stems and young leaves. They can be ready to harvest in three to five days. Sprouts are grown in water, which can have food safety risks. It’s important to follow time and temperature controls when you grow them.
Microgreens are different than sprouts. Microgreens are grown in soil or a soilless mix, then harvested by cutting the tops (stems and young leaves), leaving the seed and root. You can grow microgreens in one to two weeks.
How to Grow Microgreens Indoors
To grow microgreens indoors, you’ll need:
- Microgreen seeds (available at most gardening stores and online)
- Garden soil (organic soil free of fertilizers is best soil for microgreens)
- Seed starting trays or any other small containers that you can poke holes for drainage
- A sunny window or grow light
Once you have your supplies, the growing of microgreens is simple.
Steps for Growing Microgreens
1. Fill the trays with soil to a height of 2 to 2.5 inches.
2. Sprinkle microgreen seeds densely over the surface of the soil.
3. Sprinkle soil lightly over the top of the seeds.
4. Use your hands to press down on the seeds and the soil.
5. Spray them with water until the soil is thoroughly damp.
6. Place the trays in a sunny window so they can germinate.
7. Keep the temperature of the microgreen trays at around 70 degrees F to maximize the growth rate.
To maintain your microgreens, fill a spray bottle with water and spray the trays several times daily. To ensure even exposure to sunlight, rotate the trays every two days. You should see sprouts peeking through in three days or so.
How to Harvest Microgreens
It will be about a week to 14 days until you have a trayful of microgreens ready to harvest.
Before harvesting your microgreens, wait until the soil is dry. Then, use a small pair of manicure scissors to cut the microgreens out of the soil and place them in a container.
How to Store Microgreens
Wash the greens several times to remove all traces of soil and let them dry. Then store them in the refrigerator in an airtight container until you’re ready to eat them.
How to Enjoy the Nutritional Goodness of Microgreens
What can you do with microgreens? Add the raw greens to salads and sandwiches, soups, pasta and stir-fries, among other dishes. You can also steam or stir-fry with them, much like baby kale or spinach. But you’ll get the most nutritional benefits by eating them raw. Cooking can inactivate some of their nutrients. Try growing and tasting various types of microgreens and discover the ones you love best. Microgreens are a great way to add color and flavor to any dish.
Grow Microgreens Year-round
Growing microgreens indoors is a beautiful and delicious way to add fresh greens to your diet year-round. It’s an ideal project for people with limited outdoor space since it doesn’t need any gardening space at all. You’ll save money too. Microgreens are expensive at grocery stores but growing your own is surprisingly easy and affordable. Try our recipe for Microgreen Toast!