Edible blossoms

Published on August 27th, 2014 | by Burrito Recipes

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Understanding the Function of Microgreens

Crystallized flowers

Do you own a restaurant and want to revamp a few of your dishes? Or maybe you’re a great at-home cook and want to try something new. Microgreens offer a great way to add uniqueness to any culinary dish.

What are microgreens? Since the mid 1990’s, microgreens have been produced in the U.S. in Southern California.

These are tiny vegetables that are used for both flavor and aesthetics on a plate. These greens are normally found in fine dining restaurants. Microgreens have a single central stem which, upon harvesting, is cut just above the soil line.

These little plants are simply vegetable seedlings that are harvested before they develop into mature, larger plants — though they are smaller than “baby greens” and larger than “sprouts.”

Microgreen Growing: Growing microgreens indoors is the most effective way to grow the plants if you do not live in a warm climate. Micro green seeds take usually one to two weeks of growing time to reach their harvesting state, though some varieties may require four to six weeks of growing. These plants require plenty of sunlight, lots of space (they should have their own container or at least three inches of space between each plant), and good ventilation. This ideal environment produces more color and flavor compared to microgreens grown under artificial sunlight conditions.

Microgreen Uses: As mentioned, the plants are used mostly in fine dining establishment. Chefs mainly use the greens to enhance the aesthetics, taste, and freshness of their plates. A microgreen can add texture to a dish and unique flavors ranging from sweet, to bitter, to spicy. They can also come in a variety of colors, not just green.

Chefs will normally include a microgreen to garnish salads, soups, sandwhiches, and even some specialty desserts. They first appeared on the culinary scene in the early 1980’s in California.

Popular Examples:

  • Arugula
  • Basil
  • Beets
  • Kale
  • Cilantro
  • Chives

Microgreen Parts: Microgreens have three main parts that make up the whole plant. The main part is the central stem; the plants only have one stem from which they grow and it holds up cotyledon leaves. Cotyledon leaves, the second part, are the first pair of leaves to appear when a new plant is growing. Every plant will have these leaves and they vary in size depending on what plant is grown. Typically, a cotyledon leaf is between one to one 1/2 inches in length. The final part is true leaves. These leaves are generally the ones that produce the most flavor when ingested.

Nutrition: Microgreens include a variety of essential nutrients, including Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Vitamin K, beta-carotene, and other various carotenoids. The food is also very high in fiber and does not contain many calories.


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