Microgreens are young, tender greens that are harvested when they are just a few inches tall. These tiny plants are packed with flavor, color, and nutrition, making them a popular choice for chefs, health enthusiasts, and home gardeners alike.
Key Takeaway: While the term "what are microgreens?" may be new to many people, the concept of growing and eating young plants has been around for centuries. In fact, ancient cultures such as the Egyptians and Chinese used sprouts and microgreens in their diets for their healing and medicinal properties.
Today, different types of microgreens can be found in many different types of cuisine, from Asian stir-fries to salads and sandwiches. Microgreens seeds are prized for their nutritional value, with studies showing that they contain higher levels of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants than their mature counterparts.
In this blog, we will explore the many benefits of microgreens, from their rich flavors and textures to the impressive health benefits of microgreens. Whether you're a seasoned chef, wholesale microgreens distributor, or just starting a microgreens business, we hope to inspire you to incorporate these tiny plants into your digital or seasonal menus and discover their unique qualities.
So, what are microgreens? Let’s find out!
What are Microgreens?
Microgreens are young vegetables, herbs, and other plants that are harvested just a few weeks after germination. They are grown from seeds, just like any other plant or wholesale produce, but are harvested at a much earlier stage. Microgreens are typically harvested when they are just a few inches tall and have developed their first set of true leaves.
In recent years, the microgreens industry have gained popularity in the culinary world and amongst catering businesses for their unique flavors and textures. Their visual appeal as a garnish or topping is another unique selling proposition, USP.
Microgreens are often grown in trays or other shallow containers, and can be grown indoors or outdoors with the help of microgreens kit, depending on the plant and the season. Growing microgreens is easy and can be done year-round, making them a popular choice for home gardeners and chefs.
3 Benefits of Microgreens
Microgreens offer many benefits, including their nutritional value, health benefits, microgreens sustainability, and cost-effectiveness.
- Nutritional Value of Microgreens
Despite their small size, microgreens are packed with nutrients. In fact, they are often more nutritious than their mature counterparts. Microgreens contain high levels of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, which are important for maintaining good health.
According to reports, some microgreens, such as broccoli, radish, and red cabbage, contain higher levels of vitamin C, vitamin E, and beta-carotene than their mature counterparts. They are also rich in other important nutrients, such as potassium, iron, and magnesium.
- Health Benefits of Consuming Microgreens
Microgreens offer many health benefits, including improving digestion, boosting the immune system, and reducing inflammation. They are also low in calories and can help with weight management.
Studies have shown that microgreens can help to reduce the risk of chronic diseases, such as heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. They have also been found to help improve cognitive function and reduce the risk of age-related macular degeneration.
- Cost-Effectiveness of Growing Microgreens
Growing microgreens is a cost-effective way to enjoy fresh, nutritious greens year-round. They can be grown in small spaces, such as a windowsill or a balcony, and require little maintenance.
When compared to buying mature vegetables from the grocery store, growing your own microgreens is much more cost-effective. Not only do you save money on the cost of the greens, but you also save money on transportation and microgreens packaging costs.
Types of Microgreens
So, what are microgreens types?
Let’s explore some of the most common types of microgreens, including arugula, kale, and radish, and discuss their flavor profiles and uses.
- Arugula Microgreens
Arugula microgreens have a peppery and slightly bitter taste, similar to mature arugula. They are often used to add flavor and texture to salads, sandwiches, and pizzas. Arugula microgreens are also high in vitamins A, C, and K, as well as calcium and iron. They are easy to grow and can be harvested within 10-14 days.
- Kale Microgreens
Kale microgreens have a mild, slightly sweet taste and a tender texture. They are a good source of vitamins A, C, and K, as well as calcium and iron. Kale microgreens are often used in salads and smoothies, but can also be added to sandwiches, soups, and stir-fries. They are ready to harvest within 7-10 days and are easy to grow.
- Radish Microgreens
Radish microgreens have a spicy, peppery flavor that is similar to mature radishes. They are often used to add flavor and crunch to salads, sandwiches, and tacos. Radish microgreens are also high in vitamin C and other antioxidants. They can be harvested within 5-7 days and are easy to grow.
- Other Popular Microgreens
In addition to arugula, kale, and radish, there are many other types of microgreens that are popular among chefs and home cooks. These include:
- Sunflower: nutty and crunchy, often used in salads and sandwiches
- Broccoli: mild and slightly sweet, often used in stir-fries and salads
- Pea: sweet and tender, often used in salads and smoothies
- Cilantro: citrusy and fresh, often used in Mexican and Asian cuisine
- Basil: sweet and aromatic, often used in Italian and Thai cuisine
Commercial Uses for Microgreens: Examples of Businesses That Use Microgreens
Selling microgreens is a huge source of income for many businesses, including restaurants, caterers, grocery stores, and wholesale food distributors.
Here are some examples of how microgreens are used commercially:
- Restaurants: Many high-end restaurants use microgreens as a garnish or ingredient in their dishes, as they add flavor, color, and texture. Microgreens are also a popular choice for chefs looking to create unique and visually stunning presentations.
- Caterers: Catering companies often buy wholesale produce and microgreens to add a touch of elegance and sophistication to their menus. They are a popular choice for different types of catering events, including weddings, corporate events, and other special occasions.
- Grocery stores: Many grocery stores now carry microgreens, as they are in high demand among health-conscious consumers. Microgreens are often sold in small packages or containers, making them a convenient option for shoppers who want to add fresh greens to their salads, sandwiches, or smoothies.
- Food distribution companies: Microgreens are also used by food distributors who supply restaurants, grocery stores, and other food service businesses. These distributors often specialize in locally grown or organic microgreens, which are increasingly popular among consumers who prioritize sustainability and environmental responsibility.
- Home gardeners: While not a business in the traditional sense, many home gardeners grow microgreens to sell or trade with their friends and neighbors. Microgreens are easy to grow indoors, and require little space or equipment, making them an ideal choice for people who want to start a small gardening business.
Culinary Uses for Microgreens
As a restaurant business owner in the food and beverage industry, you now understand what are microgreens. However, how can your restaurant business use these microgreens to boost sales?
Here are some ideas for incorporating microgreens into your menu design:
- Salads: Microgreens are a great addition to salads as they add a burst of fresh flavor and color. Use arugula microgreens for a peppery kick or try adding some sunflower microgreens for a nutty taste.
- Sandwiches: Add microgreens to your sandwiches for a fresh crunch. Use pea microgreens for a sweet taste or try some broccoli microgreens for a more robust flavor.
- Soups: Sprinkle microgreens on top of your soup for a pop of color and texture. Use radish microgreens for a spicy kick or try some cilantro microgreens for a fresh, herbaceous taste.
- Smoothies: Add some microgreens to your smoothies for an extra boost of nutrients. Try using kale microgreens for a green smoothie or some beet microgreens for a sweet and earthy taste.
- Pizza: Sprinkle some microgreens on top of your pizza for a fresh touch. Use basil microgreens for a classic taste or try some mustard microgreens for a tangy flavor.
Pairing suggestions for different types of microgreens:
- Arugula: pairs well with citrus fruits, nuts, and cheese.
- Sunflower: pairs well with avocados, tomatoes, and peppers.
- Pea: pairs well with goat cheese, mint, and lemon.
- Broccoli: pairs well with roasted vegetables, cheese, and garlic.
- Radish: pairs well with beef, pork, and seafood.
- Cilantro: pairs well with Mexican and Asian dishes, as well as with lime and chili.
Recipes featuring microgreens:
- Microgreen and Goat Cheese Salad: Combine arugula microgreens with crumbled goat cheese, sliced strawberries, and chopped walnuts. Drizzle with balsamic vinaigrette.
- Sunflower Microgreen and Avocado Toast: Toast a slice of bread and top with mashed avocado, sunflower microgreens, sliced tomatoes, and a sprinkle of sea salt.
- Pea Microgreen and Lemon Pasta: Cook spaghetti according to package instructions. In a separate pan, sauté garlic in olive oil. Add in some pea microgreens and cook for a few minutes. Toss the cooked pasta with the pea microgreens and a squeeze of lemon.
- Broccoli Microgreen Pesto Pizza: Spread pesto on a pre-made pizza crust. Top with chopped roasted vegetables, shredded mozzarella cheese, and broccoli microgreens. Bake in the oven at 425°F for 10-12 minutes.
- Radish Microgreen and Shrimp Stir Fry: Sauté sliced onions and garlic in sesame oil. Add in shrimp and cook until pink. Toss in some radish microgreens and stir for a few minutes. Serve over rice or noodles.
Frequently Asked Questions About What are Microgreens
Here are some frequently asked questions about microgreens:
What are Microgreens?
Microgreens are young fresh produce vegetable or herb plants that are harvested shortly after germination, when they have grown their first set of leaves. They are smaller than baby greens and larger than sprouts, and come in a variety of colors and flavors.
What are the Nutritional Benefits of Microgreens?
Microgreens are packed with nutrients, including vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. They can contain up to 40 times the nutrients of their mature counterparts.
How are Microgreens Grown?
Microgreens can be grown in soil, hydroponically, or using other methods. They are typically grown in trays or containers, and require little space or equipment.
What are Some Popular Types of Microgreens?
Popular types of microgreens include arugula, basil, beet, broccoli, kale, and radish, as well as many others.
Are Microgreens Expensive?
The cost of microgreens can vary depending on the type, availability, and season. However, they are generally more expensive than mature greens due to their short growth cycle and high nutrient content.
Where Can I Buy Microgreens?
Microgreens can be found at specialty food stores, produce wholesalers, farmers' markets, produce subscription box sellers, and some grocery stores. They can also be grown at home using microgreen growing kits or by starting from seed. Sourcing wholesale microgreens is easy once you know where to look.
Are Microgreens Sustainable?
Microgreens are often grown using sustainable eCommerce methods, such as organic and local farming. They are also a more environmentally friendly option than mature greens, as they require less water and resources to grow.
Get Your Greens
Microgreens are small but mighty when it comes to their nutritional value and culinary versatility. They are packed with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, making them a healthy addition to any diet.
From a business perspective, microgreens offer numerous benefits. These benefits include - a relatively low cost of production, quick turnaround time, and a high demand among food safety and health-conscious consumers.
Microgreens are a valuable asset to the food and beverage industry. As our awareness of the importance of healthy eating and environmental responsibility continues to grow, it is likely that microgreens will become an even more important part of our diets and our food safety system.