What's the Deal with Microgreens? (And How to Grow Your Own!)

One thing you can say for the food world - there's always something new! If it's not foams and infusions, it's some new ingredient like microgreens that has everyone excited. So what are microgreens? Well, chances are, you have some growing in your backyard right now!As any gardener knows, plants go through distinct stages of growth: seed, seedling, plant, flowering plant, fruiting plant, and back to seed again. Microgreens are harvested once the plant has sprouted and developed at least one set of true leaves. The plants are usually 1-2 inches tall at that point. They are harvested just above the stalk and eaten whole.

Any plant that you would eat in its fully grown version is a viable option for eating as a microgreen. You can have micro-basil, micro-fennel, micro-arugula, micro-spinach, and so on. The flavor is usually very intense and slightly sweet, with shades of the flavors you'll find in the adult plant.

Microgreens have actually been around for a while, but they were found almost exclusively on restaurant menus. Thomas Keller started working with them at the French Laundry as early as 2001. It's only recently that microgreens have worked their way into home kitchens.

It's incredibly easy to grow microgreens yourself. Just fill a few leftover yogurt containers with soil and plant the seeds for the microgreen you'd like to grow just below the surface. Since you'll be harvesting the greens before they start needing a lot of space, you can plant the seeds fairly close together. Cover the containers with plastic wrap, set them on a sunny windowsill, and make sure the soil stays fairly moist.

Within a few days you'll start seeing little sprouts. At first the seedlings will only have two small flat leaves (called the cotyledon leaves), and then they'll grow their first set of real leaves a few days later. Remove the plastic wrap once they get tall and you can harvest the greens once this first set of leaves has grown.

Have you ever made anything with microgreens?

Related: How to Grow Your Own Alfalfa Sprouts

(Image: Flickr member ilovemypit licensed under Creative Commons)

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