All The Questions You Ever Need To Know About Microgreens
Simply put, microgreens are nutritious. They contain considerably higher concentrations of vitamins and carotenoids than their mature plant counterparts. For instance, red cabbage microgreens can have 6 times the concentration of vitamin C, and up to 40 times the concentration of vitamin E, when compared to mature red cabbages. Both Vitamin C and Vitamin E are antioxidants, so they are important parts of healthy diets.
Additionally, microgreens typically have high concentrations of minerals (particularly in zinc, potassium, magnesium, iron and copper). They have proven to be good sources of food polyphenols, which are bioactive compounds that are closely associated with human health.
Since microgreens contain higher concentrations of nutrients, vitamins, minerals and other beneficial bioactive compounds, they are likely to help prevent the onset of certain diseases and health issues such as heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes and some cancers.
Assessing the healthiest microgreens is not easy, as there haven’t been any studies conducted that directly compare their relative health benefits; only ones that have shown them to be healthy in general. However, the evidence suggests that some have higher concentrations of healthy nutrients than others.
Of these, pea shoots stand out for their high levels of K1 (otherwise known as Phylloquinone), which the body requires to be able to coagulate blood. They were also found to be excellent sources of ascorbic acid and β-Carotene, which are antioxidants and vital nutrients for the human body.
Red cabbages also stand out as having unusually high levels of vitamin C and E compared to their mature form, so are also extremely healthy microgreens. Garnet amaranth and green daikon radishes are other microgreens that are found to have very high levels of vitamins K and E respectively.
In general though, microgreens provide excellent nutritional value.
The short answer is that yes, certain microgreens regrow after harvesting. This is not the case across the board, but many microgreens such as pea shoots can be cut several times and will continue to grow.
To get the best results, ensure that you cut your microgreens slightly above the lowest leaf whilst harvesting. This will improve the likelihood of the crop regrowing after being cut. Growing them in larger containers (such as window boxes) can also increase the chances of regrowth.
While all microgreens carry health benefits, some of them are easier, prettier, and tastier than others. Here are some of the best microgreens to grow:
- Radish – With a faster rate of growth than many other microgreens, as well as pretty red stems and green leaves, radish microgreens are a great choice. Their sharp taste also complements a range of foods such as egg salad. These usually take around 7 days to harvest.
- Cabbage – Similar to radish, cabbage is very easy to grow. Some, like Red Acre Cabbage microgreens, have a striking colour that is visually appealing. Cabbage microgreens are usually ready to harvest in 10-14 days.
- Broccoli – Micro broccoli has a distinctive spicy flavour, which can give a great kick to a salad. While they don’t have the aesthetic appeal of radish microgreens, they are equally as easy to grow, only taking around 7 days.
- Spinach – These nutrient rich microgreens are perfect for putting in a pasta dish or sandwich. They can usually be harvested within 10 days of planting.
- Beetroot – The red-stemmed micro beetroot is the perfect complement to a range of fish dishes and is another microgreen that can add a splash of colour to your garden.
No, tomato microgreens cannot be eaten. Tomatoes are members of the nightshade family of plants (along with plants such as eggplants, goji, potatoes, and peppers). These should not be consumed as microgreens because the sprouts of this plant family are poisonous.
Growing microgreens indoors at home or in your garden greenhouse is very simple and anyone can do it. The process is the same for all microgreens; sow the seeds into compost and then position them under a source of light, occasionally watering them lightly. As the name suggests, microgreens are sufficiently small, meaning they can be grown all year long by conveniently placing them in any small container and leaving them on a windowsill indoors. Once they have been sown, they are generally ready to harvest in one to two weeks.
Yes, you can use birdseed for microgreens. However, while this may be a cheaper way of doing so, it is not particularly ideal. In the first instance, bird seed tends to comprise of low-quality seeds. Additionally, they often include unhealthy (or even unsafe) additives, and are often stored in unsanitary places for long periods of time.
To grow the best microgreens, you’ll want to buy fresh, high-quality seeds that haven’t spent a long time in transit or in storage. In so doing, you’ll produce healthier, safer and tastier microgreens.
Yes, you can cook microgreens but many of them can also be eaten raw. When they are cooked, a lot of microgreens can really add to a meal. Some, such as radish sprouts, can only take minor heat and so should be added at the last minute. However, a lot of them can withstand higher temperatures for longer periods of times. For example, coriander microgreens make a great addition to a stir fry, micro broccoli is great in an omelette, and spinach microgreens go well with a risotto.
Yes, you can use regular seeds to grow microgreens. Microgreens are defined by the method of harvesting and the stage of development rather than any botanical differences. However, it is important to establish that the plants are suitable for eating as microgreens and that the seeds are safe and healthy.
As stated above, some plants (such as those belonging to the nightshade family) are poisonous when sprouts. Similarly, other seeds might not have been stored safely or might have been exposed to harmful additives. Buying dedicated microgreen seeds helps you ensure that what you are growing is safe and fit for purpose. If you are ever unsure, always check with the seed supplier.