Microgreens are not your mung or adzuki bean sprouts of the 80’s. They are fresh, aromatic, flavourful and packed full of nutrients.
While they are available all year long they just might be the answer to the doldrums of the winter salad. When it is difficult to source fresh produce and ingredients these little greens can brighten up a winter salad.
Microgreens are defined as seedlings that are harvested 7- 14 days after germination with 2 leaves. Sprouts are typically harvested 1-7 days after germination and only have 1 green ‘leaf’. Microgreens are germinated in soil or growing medium while sprouts are typically germinated in water, which can have bacterial issues due to the humidity.
Microgreens are more flavourful than sprouts or the actual vegetables and are significantly more nutrient dense than the mature vegetable. Urban Cultivator is currently participating in a study with the University of Alberta to formalize data but as an example here is how they compare Red Cabbage microgreens to mature Red Cabbage:
Red cabbage micros
- More vitamin C in microgreen version -147 mg/245% daily value vs. 57 mg
- 40 times more vitamin E in microgreen version
- 69x more vitamin K in microgreen version
And the reference above to more flavourful…you won’t believe how fresh and flavourful they are! We had a little tasting bar of celery micros, broccoli micros, arugula micros among others. I couldn’t believe how much the celery micros tasted like celery! That sounds like an oxymoron when I write it but I expected just some ‘sprouty’, unrecognizable taste and instead I got the freshest, brightest celery taste. It is hard to describe accurately so you will need to sample some for yourself.
The Broccoli micros were surprisingly spicy. What a treat they are in a peppery, arugula based salad.
So… now that I am slightly obsessed with microgreens -what next?
Where to Buy Microgreens
Uprooted Farms in Elora Ontario takes orders through MrsGrocery.com where there are delivery options along with other interesting local fare. They also have some enticing recipes on their web-site such as Garlic and Lemon Pasta with Arugula Microgreens. I can’t wait to try the Microgreen Pesto as well.
You can find micro greens on every scale imaginable. In Southern Ontario Nature’s Nurturing also has an on-line ordering system.
The good news is that microgreens are harvestable 365 days of the year since they are ‘container’ grown in a controlled environment. Just google ‘where to buy microgreens’ in your area. I would suggest contacting the growers to confirm if farmer market stalls are seasonal or if any local stores carry their products. Most are small businesses that are evolving with the times and their markets so things can change.
Grow Your Own
There are lots of suppliers on-line of starter kits and organic seeds. Microgreens Canada has a wide variety of kits and seeds including this starter kit for $49.95. Hey-even Amazon will be happy to ship you a complete kit, seeds or supplies!
Urban Cultivator sells units that look like a wine fridge that you incorporate in your kitchen. Keep that in mind if you are building or renovating!!
On a commercial scale Local Food Champions based in Alexandria, Ontario makes custom modular farm units ranging in size from a ‘tiny house’ to a transport truck.
These units are becoming popular with growers, restaurant chains, hospitals, residences – anywhere that there is emphasis on feeding large groups of people quality food. Modular farming could be a huge game changer for remote areas. Think of the possibilities for Northern communities – they could be enjoying the benefits of nutrient dense, delicious microgreens in a matter of weeks after delivery. Smaller units can easily feed 30 people on an ongoing basis.
It was Jason Carrier, CEO of Local Food Champions that led me through a mini-bar tasting of various microgreens. We just ate pinches of them on their own and we also garnish cheese and crackers with little pinches of them. I used the leftovers in salads and to garnish this delicious Winter Tomato Tart.
While microgreens are flavourful they can be overwhelmed by strong dressings or other flavours. I find I enjoy them most when they are a star garnish or ingredient and allowed to shine.
Microgreens just might be the star of your healthy eating plan for the New Year and beyond!