Microgreens and sprouts are both small plants that are grown for their nutrient-dense and flavorful shoots. However, there are some differences between the two.
Microgreens are young vegetable greens that are harvested when they are only a few inches tall, usually within 7 to 14 days of germination. They are grown from the same seeds as the mature plants but are harvested at a much earlier stage. Microgreens are typically harvested when they have developed one or two true leaves, and are often sold as a mix of different plants, including herbs, vegetables, and even some flowers. They are typically grown indoors in soil or on a substrate such as a mat or paper towel and require regular watering and light to grow.
Sprouts, on the other hand, are even younger than microgreens, as they are harvested within a few days of germination, typically when they are only a few days old. Sprouts are grown from seeds that have been soaked in water for a period of time and are then typically grown in a jar or other container with a mesh lid, which allows for air circulation and drainage. They are often grown on a kitchen counter and require regular rinsing and draining to keep them moist.
Both microgreens and sprouts are considered to be very nutritious, as they are packed with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. However, sprouts are known to have a higher concentration of certain nutrients, such as vitamin C, than even mature plants, while microgreens are considered to be a more flavorful and versatile ingredient in cooking.
It is worth noting that both microgreens and sprouts carry some risk of bacterial contamination, and it is important to handle them safely and ensure they are properly washed and stored before consumption. Additionally, some people may be at a higher risk of foodborne illness from consuming raw or lightly cooked sprouts, such as those with weakened immune systems, young children, and pregnant women.
Growing microgreens and sprouts is relatively easy and can be done in small spaces, making them a popular choice for home gardeners and urban dwellers.
Here are some tips on how to grow them:
Choose your seeds: You can use seeds of almost any vegetable or herb, but some popular choices include radish, kale, arugula, basil, and cilantro.
Choose your growing medium: Microgreens can be grown in soil or on a substrate such as a mat, paper towel, or coconut coir.
Plant the seeds: Sprinkle the seeds evenly on the growing medium and lightly press them into the soil or substrate.
Water the seeds: Spray the seeds with water using a spray bottle and keep the soil or substrate moist.
Provide light: Microgreens need light to grow, so place them near a window or under grow lights.
Harvest: Microgreens are ready to harvest when they have developed one or two true leaves, usually within 7 to 14 days of planting. Use scissors to cut the microgreens just above the soil or substrate.
Choose your seeds: You can use seeds of almost any vegetable, herb, or legume, but some popular choices include alfalfa, broccoli, mung beans, and lentils.
Soak the seeds: Place the seeds in a jar or other container and cover them with water. Let them soak for several hours or overnight.
Drain the water: Drain the water from the jar using a mesh lid or cheesecloth.
Rinse and drain the seeds: Rinse the seeds with fresh water and drain the water from the jar. Repeat this process twice a day, keeping the jar in a dark place between rinses.
Provide ventilation: After a few days, the sprouts will start to develop leaves. At this point, you can move the jar to a sunny spot to help the sprouts develop chlorophyll.
Harvest: Sprouts are ready to harvest when they have developed leaves, usually within a few days of germination. Rinse them thoroughly before eating.
Both microgreens and sprouts are considered to be very nutritious, as they are packed with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. The exact nutrient content will depend on the type of plant, but in general, microgreens and sprouts are high in vitamin C, vitamin K, and folate. They are also a good source of fibre and protein. Some studies have suggested that microgreens may be even more nutritious than mature plants, as they have a higher concentration of certain nutrients, such as vitamin C and carotenoids. Sprouts are known to be a good source of enzymes, which may aid digestion, and are also thought to have anti-inflammatory properties. However, it is important to note that more research is needed to fully understand the health benefits of microgreens and sprouts.