Vegetables seemed to have gone out of fashion for far a long time. They have not only been the second or third choice food for just the kids, but adults too try to avoid them when they can. Their usage primarily had become limited as a decoration for fancy dishes.
Given their nutritional value, doctors, physicians, and nutritionists have now been encouraging their usage more than ever before. But vegetables now have quite a lot of types, and when you go to the market you can get a little confused on the variety available.
Knowing the different stages of growth of the plant we can create true symphonies of colors, flavors, textures, and nutrients to create beautiful and attractive dishes full of vitamins, minerals, proteins, and whatnot of phytochemicals that will enrich our diet.
A new generation of vegetables
They are gaining increasing popularity as a new culinary ingredient in recent decades. Yes, we are talking about “microgreens” or micro plants as they call them. These are very young vegetables harvested in their early stages of growth. They are very easy to grow at home in an open corner, without having a garden and are easy to maintain and harvest. It is not a new discovery, in fact Ann Wigmore already told us about the benefits of eating freshly sprouted green leafy salads, as a very good practice to carry out a lively diet. In this post, we will explain what they are and how they differ from sprouts.
Different stages of plant development
Depending on the stage of development of the plant, we will consider it a sprout, an outbreak or a microgreen. We can’t say that any one of them is better than the others and they can all be part of a healthy diet because they are full of nutrients. But yes, the nutritional content of microgreens is considered to be the highest.
They are in the stage in which the seed germ passes from an inactive state to an intense metabolic activity in which the embryo will give rise to a whole new plant. The enzymes are active within the seed and the hatch to give life. When the seed develops, it generates a whole, nutritious cascade of vitamins, enzymes, fatty acids, amino acids and other nutrients necessary for the seed to continue growing and become a small plant.
Sprouts are highly beneficial because, due to their metabolic state. Their metabolic state greatly increases the nutritional value of the plant in a very small portion of food.
Differences between sprouts and outbreaks
Generally, sprouts and outbreaks refer to the same and are used interchangeably. But in botanical terms, there is a small but significant difference.
Germinated outbreak: the seed is activated
- The embryo, which contains the information of what the plant will be, swells and breaks the seed cover.
- The embryo contained in the seed, which was in a state of lethargy, wakes up and develops.
Sprout: the first section of the plant emerges
The first green part of the plant that will develop the stem, bud and first leaves grows upwards.
Micro plants or microgreens
They are vegetables harvested before their maturity stage, their nutrients are in a more concentrated form than in the developed plant and contain more chlorophyll than sprouts.
Therefore, microgreens are in the next stage to germination and sprouting, where the first leaves called cotyledons appear and later the first definitive leaves. In its initial phase of growth and about 3-15 cm high, the plant has an intense flavor and a high nutritional value since they have a higher content of most nutrients than in the mature plant.
What are cotyledons?
The first set of leaves that will grow are formed when the seed begins to germinate / sprout. They are responsible for providing the plant, through photosynthesis, with the energy it needs to start offering its first leaves until it can extract energy and nutrition from the soil. The life of these first leaves is short since when the plant begins to develop definitive leaves to be able to carry out photosynthesis, the cotyledons fall.
The “microgreens” are the leaves that form between the cotyledons and the first definitive leaves, depending on when we harvest the plant. These first shoots are the first leaves of a plant that are born from the result of the culmination of the stage of growth of cotyledons.
All of these plant-stages offer us one more way to eat nutrient-rich vegetables and to dress our dishes with freshness, color, and variety.
Finally, we can see the basic differences between them:
|Sprouts||Micro plants or Microgreens|
|They grow in water.||They grow on land.|
|It can be germinated in jars, germination dishes, natural fiber bags, or electric germinators.||They are grown in culture trays or similar.|
|They grow in partial darkness and need clarity, can be grown indoors||They need indirect sunlight.|
|They rinse two-three times a day.||They water once a day.|
|They are collected between 3 and 7 days.||They are collected 7–14 days after germination when the first leaves appear.|
|They are eaten intact: the stem, the root and often also the seed.||The stem and leaf are trimmed.|
|They can be stored in bags or jars in the fridge for a few days.||They are usually harvested at the time they are to be consumed.|
|They have a larger portion of nutrients in a smaller volume. They are more concentrated foods.||They have a higher chlorophyll content, more fiber, and are more satiating.|