I’ve come to see microgreens as a miracle. It’s December, so all of our growing is under some sort of cover. The landscape is barren. However, our microgreens are in the basement grow area, on lighted shelving. Every morning when I turn those lights on the micro-forest of food hits my eyes like summer sunshine! I am totally smitten.
What are microgreens, exactly? Well, the short definition is that they are vegetable plants harvested once their first true leaves emerge. However, I think there is still some confusion about what distinguishes them from sprouts, shoots and baby greens. So, here are the Stony Ridge Farm distinctive definitions of each:
· Microgreens: as stated above, these are greens harvested once their first true leaves appear. They are nutrient and flavor dense. A little goes a long way. Microgreens are grown from seed cultivated specifically for this kind of harvest. They are grown in soil. So far, we have grown the following varieties: spicy micromix, mild micromix, basil, parsley, kale, and broccoli. Each succession takes ten days to two weeks to harvest, some varieties a little longer.
· Sprouts: salad vegetables grown with water only and packaged after a 5+/- day germination period. Think alfalfa sprout. We’ve offered these on and off. They are a risky crop and very labor intensive, so it was easier when we offer fewer farm shares.
· Shoots: plants harvested when they have several of their early true leaves and can be eaten whole – raw or cooked. We offer pea shoots and sunflower shoots. The nice thing about shoots is that they store for longer periods. They are not as fragile. They also have texture, crunch, snap.
· Baby Greens: salad vegetables grown outdoors, in soil and harvested when they are 2-3’’ high. This week we harvested baby kale. Bob and I had it for dinner last evening with a citrus-ginger salad dressing. At the time of the Winter Solstice, I could not have planned a better salad to recall spring’s flavor!
Microgreens and shoots are not a cheap crop. Special growing trays and soil mixtures, lighting, not to mention the seed costs rack up pretty quickly. The current market rate for microgreens is $27/pound.
Uses - Remember they can be sprinkled on EVERYTHING from sandwich toppings, to over your steak, on top of a regular green salad, on top of tacos, with your hummus, on top of your omelet…you name it. Why not get some sea scallops, sear them with butter and sprinkle a generous portion of microgreens over them for a fast, healthy and very tasty dinner?
Please leave a comment below if you have a favorite use for your microgreens. Thanks!