Lifestyle

Grow your own microgreens on your kitchen bench

If you have ever been to a fancy cafe or restaurant, you have almost certainly had a dish garnished with 'vegetable confetti'. Also known as microgreens, these delicate, vibrant baby greens burst with flavour and nutrition. The great news is that Sarah Coleman has explained how you can easily grow them at home all year round with minimal space and effort.

By Sarah Coleman

What are microgreens?

Microgreens are simply immature, 'baby' versions of the vegetables you eat. They are harvested after the first true leaves (cotyledons) appear, generally 7-20 days after the seedlings emerge.

They are not to be confused with sprouts, which grow to the stage before leaves appear. Sprouts are grown in water, whereas microgreens are grown in soil.

The World Economic Forum believes microgreens have the power to transform food security around the world. At Citro, we figure any cheap and easy way to eat your own fresh and nutritious food is always worth exploring.

You can also read how to grow your own vegetables on Citro. It's also easy (and cheap) to grow your own herbs to make a calming herbal tea. Read more about the power of nutrient-rich foods on Mediterranean diet 101.

Mighty in nutrients

 Including microgreens in your diet is an excellent way to boost your health.  Research shows they can have anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant, and anti-diabetic effects on our bodies. Here’s how:

1. Nutrient density: Microgreens have more vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals packed into each unit of weight than fully grown plants. They are a good source of vitamins, including vitamin C, E, and beta-carotene (pro-vitamin A). They also contain minerals such as potassium, calcium, magnesium, and iron.

2. Antioxidant activity: Microgreens are rich in antioxidants, which may help protect the body against oxidative stress and reduce the risk of chronic diseases.

3. Bioactive compounds: Microgreens contain plant chemicals like polyphenols, glucosinolates, carotenoids, and flavonoids. These compounds are linked to various health benefits, including preventing inflammation and cancer.

4. Specific health-promoting effects: Different microgreens may have different health-promoting effects due to their unique nutrient profiles.  Kale and broccoli microgreens, for example, have greater antioxidant and anti-cancer properties than other varieties.

Microgreens are more nutrient-rich than their larger, more mature greens, as this infographic from the World Economic Forum reveals.

It’s worth noting that the health benefits of microgreens can vary depending on the type, how they are grown, and when you pick them.

How to use microgreens

Taste should be your top priority when selecting microgreen seeds. After all, you will not want to eat them if they don't taste good!

Fortunately, there is a wide variety of flavours to choose from, so you can find the perfect match for your palate and the dishes you intend to serve them with.

Microgreens are best used in fresh salads, sandwiches, and wraps. Use them as a garnish for warm foods to add a burst of freshness, especially in the winter when soups and stews are on the menu. Folding them into an omelette makes for a quick, delicious meal.

Pick your flavour

Herbaceous: If you love herby tastes, go for varieties like basil, parsley, and coriander. These microgreens have a fresh, bright flavour that's perfect in salads, sandwiches and as a zesty garnish to cooked dishes.

Bold and earthy: for a more robust taste, try broccoli, kale, and tatsoi. These microgreens have a slightly bitter, earthy flavour.They are delicious sprinkled on top of stir-fries, sautéed greens, and hearty soups and stews.

Warm and peppery: Try nasturtium, watercress, rocket, and radish for a peppery kick. They will add a warming bite to salads, wraps, and as a garnish for meat or fish dishes.

Fresh and zesty: for clean green flavours, try pea shoots or celery microgreens. They have a mild, sweet flavour that is ideal for spring salads, sandwiches, and wraps.

How to grow microgreens

You will need:

  • A shallow watertight container: old deep baking trays work well, as does tray-like packaging such as fruit containers and the tops of egg cartons (the tray-like side, not the divided side the eggs sit on).
  • Peat-free potting compost.
  • Seeds, single or mixed microgreen varieties, from your local nursery or seed store. You can try Ausallium or Seedmart Australia to buy seeds online and have them delivered to you.
  • Spray bottle.

Instructions to grow your own microgreens

  1. Choose a well-lit position, such as a windowsill, kitchen bench, or balcony, that gets at least 4–6 hours of sunlight daily.
  2. Soak larger seeds, such as mung beans, peas, and wheat, in water overnight and drain them before planting. This ensures speedier germination.
  3. Place a layer of approximately 5 - 6cm of compost into the tray and gently level it out.
  4. Scatter seeds so they fall approximately 2-3mm apart. Gently pat the seeds to ensure they are in good contact with the soil.
  5. Sprinkle more soil to cover the seeds lightly.
  6. Water the tray by misting it with a spray bottle; you want to keep the soil moist, not waterlogged.
  7. Harvest your microgreens with scissors, snipping them off just above the soil. Your microgreens will be ready to harvest in 7 - 20 days, depending on your chosen varieties.
  8. Enjoy! 

Have you tried microgreens? What is your favourite way to eat them? Share in the comments below.

 

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