What are Microgreens?
You may have heard of microgreens or seen them on a dish that you’ve received at a restaurant, but what exactly are microgreens?
This simplest way to put it is they are your favorite vegetable plants such as cabbage, radish, broccoli, swiss chard, and peas—only they are grown in flats and harvested at a very young stage. You are left with fresh, crunchy, and colorful produce that often contains the same flavor as their full-grown vegetable counter-part and are used to bring new life to the same old tired meals. Microgreens can be grown any time of year if you have enough light—artificial or natural—and they don’t take up a lot of counter-top space.
Keep in mind that not all garden vegetable seed varieties are suitable for microgreening. These include tomatoes, cucumbers, and other seeds in the nightshade family. Also, certain seed varieties that ARE suitable will perform better than others. That is why we’ve chosen to refer to certain varieties as “microgreens seeds”. Some varieties will just naturally produce a better microgreen and they are the ones we have listed as such. Our absolute favorite microgreen seed varieties with be marked as “chef’s choice” with this icon: (insert icon here).
You see, we had been growing Microgreens (without calling them that…) since 1991! Before we started selling wheatgrass growing kits, we ran a small greenhouse providing primarily wheatgrass and barley grass to local health food stores and juice bars in the Salt Lake City area. We also grew sunflower and buckwheat for use in salads, and they were pretty popular with some of our health food stores.
We never called them “microgreens” however. For us, they were always “sunflower greens” and “buckwheat greens”. So we are proud to have been so far ahead of the Microgreens curve, growing and enjoying these amazingly different salad greens for so many years. Early on, we created a greens growing kit, and have sold thousands of them, but these kits really only focused on the two greens we started with 20 years ago now; sunflower and buckwheat.
Since Microgreens have gone mainstream (and are still just now really catching on), we have been working hard in the past year or so to dramatically expand our Microgreens offering to include many different and exotic varieties of microgreens, including our old standbys; sunflower and buckwheat. The result is our Growing Microgreens Brand which now offers both soil-based and hydroponic growing kits, supplies and over 40 types of microgreens seeds, so you can grow delicious and healthy micro salad greens, and baby salad greens right on your kitchen counter.
We have grown literally hundreds of trays of microgreens to refine the process to help you grow healthy crops of these amazingly flavored salad treats. Sunflower microgreens still remain our all time favorite but you’ll be amazed at the flavors and colors of microgreens like sango radish, red amaranth, cilantro, dun pea, Russian kale, pak choi and countless others.
One thing we have discovered is that growing microgreens is much more than just a healthy dietary choice. It is an amazingly fun and fulfilling hobby, especially growing hydroponically, which is clean, fast and takes up amazingly little space as our friend Wade, the wheatgrass trucker has proven by growing sunflower microgreens in the cab of his truck on his cross-country hauls! Because microgreens grow so quickly you can enjoy almost instant gratification of gardening over and over, and it gives you the opportunity to experiment not only with growing techniques, but also different types of microgreens combinations in salads and food preparation generally.We hope you will give this amazing new approach to live foods a try and share you experiences, growing tips and recipes with us. We will pass along the collective knowledge on the website and further updates in this newsletter.
All the best from the crew at True Leaf, LLC!
Not sure where to start? Try one of our most popular kits:
The Deluxe Kit comes with soil and grow mats. Deluxe Starter Kit.
The Hydroponic Microgreens Kit comes with grow mats for a soil-free harvest. Hydroponic Starter Kit.
Now that you know a little more about microgreens, what do you do with them?
They best way to start understanding how their flavor and color can improve your dishes, start adding them to your salads and or sandwiches. Microgreens have gained popularity over the last decade as chefs included them in their dishes. This increasing culinary popularity have led to microgreens being included as ingredients on cooking shows.
Here are two recipes that can guide you through using microgreens in your kitchen—and hopefully show you just how easy it can be:
Microgreen Caprese Toss
- 4 Fat tomatoes – preferably heirloom.
- 1 ½ red onion
- ¾ - 1 cup of ciliegine mozzarella (small balls of mozzarella)
- Harvested 5”x5” section of basil microgreens—or more depending on taste.
- Balsamic Vinegar
Dice tomatoes and red onions. Toss tomatoes, red onions, mozzarella and microgreens in a bowl and add balsamic vinegar to taste. Serve alongside main course.
Microgreen Taco Topping
- 5”x5” China Rose Radish Microgreens
- 5”x5” Wasabi Mustard Microgreens
- 5”x5” Cilantro Microgreens
- 1 lime or ½ lemon
Harvest all 5x5 tray of microgreens and toss the greens together. Next squeeze your citrus over it and place on top of any taco or sandwich you want to improve.
- Seed – A seed is the ‘embryo in stasis’ stage of a plant. It is the next generation of the species in waiting.
- Germination – When the conditions are right (water, temperature, etc) the seed to springs to life and begins to grow.
- Sprout – A sprout is the stage of plant life immediately after germination. The root tail has emerged from the seed, and the first hints of leaves will soon begin to show, but they haven’t opened yet. The sprout stage is typically 1 to 3 days after germination. Learn more about sprouts and sprouting.
- Microgreens – Microgreens are juvenile plants that have “starter leaves” called cotyledons. A cotyledons isn’t a true leaf (hey, that’s the name of our company…). True leaves will emerge after the cotyledons and characterize the mature plant. Many plants have similar looking cotyledons in the microgreen stage. The duration of the microgreen stage starts when the cotyledons open (after the sprout stage) up until the point where the plant’s true leaves begin to emerge. This typically lasts between 3 to 12 days after germination, but can be a little shorter or longer depending on the variety of plant. Radish is a little shorter, and Cilantro is a little longer, for example.
- Mature Plant – Once the true leaves have emerged, the plant has left the microgreens stage and is headed to maturity and eventual harvest.