What are Microgreens? And how to use them!

What are microgreens?

Microgreens are really just baby versions of the adult plants that you’re probably more familiar with! They’re grown out to their first leaves (the technical name for these are cotyledons). At this stage they have all of the nutrients in them that they would need to make a full-sized plant.

Microgreens are between five and forty times as nutrient dense as their adult versions (by weight) because they contain very little water content or cellulose (the bit that makes up the ‘skeleton’ of the plant). In essence, they haven’t been watered down by the growth process! This is the same reason that the flavors of microgreens are more intense than the grown-up plants.

I always tell folks, if you love basil, you have got to try micro basil, it is a completely different world of flavor!

Microgreens are a perfect addition to your personal wellness plan. They make it easy to pack a quick sandwich with nourishing vitamins, minerals, and even protein.  They are so much more than just beautiful garnish. (Even though they are a beautiful garnish!)

How do you use microgreens?

We use them on everything from cacciatore to busy week-night mac and cheese. They make pasta salads and lettuce wraps sing. Finish your soups and stews with them at the table, or replace some of your salad greens with our pea and sunflower shoots. We use them to make our “guilty pleasure” foods (think meatloaf) come with a little less guilt.

To ensure the most nutrients, never cook them! They could not be easier, just cut them, put them on your food, and enjoy.  Our microgreens are grown in organic soil, never sprayed, and gently handled. The only thing that touches the leaves are good well water. We don’t even rinse them before we use them at home, but you’re welcome to if you’d like.

How do you keep microgreens from The Drake Hearth?

You might have noticed that we sell our microgreens still alive and growing in good soil! We do this to ensure the best possible quality. It’s not just raw food, it is living food. When those ninety-plus degree days of summer roll around, it ensures that our cool weather crops like kale and peas can take the heat.

You have a few options once you get them home!

1: Keep them alive: somewhere in indirect light (a sunny window will cook them fairly quickly), under a desk light (it is okay if the light is not full spectrum, you’re going to eat them soon!), or just out on your counter if you plan to use them within a few days. Water them in the morning, and again in the evening if the soil dries out. If they start to look a little limp, don’t throw them away, they are often just dehydrated and will spring back with a good watering and a short rest.

2: Keep them in the fridge. If you have the room, you can put the whole tray right in your crisper (the drawer in your fridge that has the humidity control) and they’ll keep just fine. We have had a customer tell us they forgot about their living pea shoots from us in the fridge, and found them in perfect health after an entire month. – No, you read that right. Fresh and delicious after an entire month. (Take that grocery store salads!)

There is one big caveat here. You don’t want to put your basil in the fridge whether it is living or cut, ever. It hates the cold and will turn black very quickly. Basil prefers to be left at room temperature.

3: Don’t want to keep a pet? Cut your microgreens when you get home and toss them into a zip lock bag, or Tupperware, with a clean hand towel, napkin or piece of paper towel. The cloth or paper towel will absorb excess moisture and protect the greens from condensation. Kept this way they will easily last the week.

If you need to rinse your greens, do it with cool water, immediately before using. If you wash them before putting them away, the additional condensation will cause them to degrade more rapidly than they normally would.

– I know, I know, I am no fun, but I do want to remind everyone that once any plant is cut it begins to lose nutritional value. Moving them into the fridge immediately after cutting helps preserve the nutrient contents.