If you haven't tried them, you really should. No, microgreens are not sprouts. They are by definition, older, more mature versions of their sprout brothers and sisters and as a result carry more of the true flavor of the plant. Microgreens include the stems and first leaves of the little plant, but do not include the sprouted seed itself, like sprouts do. Many people swear that these nutritional powerhouses are packed with many times the nutrient density of their fully mature counterparts, and in fact, some studies show that microgreens can contain as much as 40 to 75% more of certain antioxidants than mature samples of the same plant (source). While clearly more study is required to make definitive conclusions, many people swear by the health benefits of microgreens.
"Ok, so we are pretty sure that are good for us, but what do they taste like," you might be asking. According to Chefsteps.com "Microgreens have recently emerged as some of the best-loved garnishes in fine dining—and it’s easy to see why. Tiny as they are, these young plants pack remarkably intense flavors, vibrant colors, and interesting textures. Bursting with nutrients, they also get high marks from the health food community." I can tell you first-hand, these little guys really pack a punch when it comes to flavor. Basil microgreens in your caprese will knock your socks off and you will never taste a more wonderful pea flavor that that which is offered by pea microgreens. If you like a little spice, radish microgreens are just the ticket, and broccoli micros give you the best part of the broccoli flavor without any of the bitterness sometimes found in the broccoli flower. You can use these as beautiful and delicious garnishes, components in a mixed green salad, or mix and match them with other common micros (sunflower, cilantro, kale, beets, etc.) to make an anti-oxidant rich and colorful micro green salad like the one shown here courtesy of eatingworks.com.
Are you convinced? Now, where can you find them? Good question. Back to Chefstep.com: "Only problem is that microgreens are hella pricey; you’re lucky if you can find them for $30 a pound." "Ouch," you might now be thinking, "so good for your health, good for your taste buds, not good for your pocketbook." Keep in mind, a pound of microgreens is a whole lotta microgreens, and these were likely grown by a small local farmer. (Microgreens do not lend themselves well to industrial scale production and distribution, simply because of the nature of the beast. They are tender, delicate, and really must be fresh to be any good.) That said, we agree that $30 seems steep. One solution: buy your microgreens directly from your farmer. You will both enjoy the benefit of fresher product and more efficient economics.
At The Wegener Farm we have grown micros with good success in the past, and we will grow more this year. CSA members can look forward to this special treat in their shares this summer and, if things go well, you might see The Wegener Farm micros at a farm market near you. In the meantime, it would be great to learn what the interest in such a product is like in our market. Please comment on this blog or reach out to us at Thewegenerfarm.com with your perspective.
Rob (your personal farmer)