Have you ever cooked with organic micro greens? If you watch any cooking shows, such as Masterchef or Iron Chef, you already know that organic micro greens are the latest and greatest movement in the culinary world. If you’ve never heard of these petite microgreens, here’s what you need to know:
- What are micro greens?
By appearance, you might assume that organic micro greens are teeny tiny versions of normal-sized leafy vegetables, sort of like a teacup pig is a micro version of a normal pig. However, microgreens are not the teacup pig of leafy vegetables. Microgreens are actually leafy vegetables that are carefully harvested at a precise point in their development to produce the most nutrient-dense and flavorful vegetable.
Microgreens are harvested right after the first set of true leaves sprout on the plant, when the vegetable matures from a seedling to a real plant. The first set of leaves that the plant produces has the richest nutrient content and a strong flavor. This adds a awesome dynamic to many dishes.
- Where do you get microgreens?
A common misconception when it comes to procuring microgreens for a special meal is that if they’re micro and they’re green, they’ll get the job done. In reality, because those microgreens are so concentrated, you want to be really choosey about which types you use, where you get them from, and how they’re produced.
For example, many floral shops provide microgreens, but these really aren’t meant for human consumption. In fact, you really want to make sure that the microgreens you incorporate into your dishes haven’t been treated with common pesticides or herbacides that are used in many commercial agricultural operations, as the chemicals can have a greater impact on produce that is harvested at such a delicate point. To ensure that your microgreens are free of any poisons that could be harmful to your health (or maybe just throw the taste of the plant off), you want to always look for “Certified Organic” stamp. If your organic micro greens have the “Certified Organic” logo on them, you know that you are only consuming the glorious nutrients provided by Mother Nature, untouched by man.
- What’s the shelf life of microgreens?
We’re going to give you a little culinary tip that you already know: microgreens — like all produce — are best when they’re fresh. The best case scenario involves getting your microgreens from your produce shop the same day that you plan to serve them. If that isn’t possible, you can keep your microgreens fresh for a few days by placing them on a damp paper towel in the fridge. Since microgreens are the pint-sized version of their full-grown counterparts, and every leafy green has a distinct set of requirements, the type of micro green that you are working with may require different handling conditions. Always check with the producer of your organic microgreens on how to handle them before preparing them in your dish if you are unsure.
- How do you use organic micro greens in a dish?
The delicate nature of microgreens lends themselves well to applications where they are served fresh. Many chefs utilize their microgreens to top a fresh garden salad, or to add a pop of color and zest to any other dish, after it has been prepared.
In some cases, microgreens can be cooked before serving. If your dish requires the microgreens to be heated, keep in mind that microgreens burn or wilt extremely fast if they are not prepared properly. In most cases, the best way to cook a microgreen is to sautee it. The the sauteing process involves high heat for only a very short amount of time. Heat a small amount of butter or oil in a pan (for many dishes, you can use the same pan you prepared your meat in, and the leftover oil from the meat will provide more than enough oil — you don’t want to add too much oil or it will smother the microgreens). After the pan is sufficiently hot, place the microgreens in for just along enough to sear the outside. This locks the moisture and flavor while preventing it from getting soggy.
Do you have questions about preparing organic micro greens? Share in the comment section below.