During the cold, bleak days of winter nothing is more welcome than the fresh, crisp taste of greens and sprouts. The tasty little morsels are easy to grow whether you live in a house or an apartment. Nowadays, people seem to use the terms sprouts and microgreens interchangeably, but they are vastly different things.
Comparing Microgreens vs. sprouts
Sprouts vs. microgreens both have benefits and drawbacks. They are each relatively easy to grow in the home and make fantastic addictions to your diet.
What are Sprouts?
Sprouts are the start of any plant’s growth cycle. The sprout occurs when the seeds burst to leaf and starts its journey towards the sunlight. The sprout stage lasts for only two to four days after germination. The tiny seed provides nutrients for the start of the plant’s stem, roots, and cotyledon which are the first leaves that appear after a seed germinates. When you germinate seeds in soil you miss out on the sprout stage but if you grow them hydroponically then you’ll see this beautiful process clearly.
- Pumpkin seeds
- Red clover seeds
- Chia seeds
- Mung beans
- A mason jars.
- Sprouting lid or cheesecloth with rubber band
- A bowl to place the mason jar within at an upside down angle.
Steps needed to sprout seeds:
- Pour the seeds into the mason jar. You’ll use about a single teaspoon of seeds per jar.
- Cover the seeds with one cup of water and put the lid or cheesecloth on the mason jar.
- Soak the seeds for 12 hours.
- Strain the water away from the seeds using either the cheesecloth or sprouting lid.
- Rinse the seeds with cool water and drain.
- Place the mason jar at an angle in the bowl so that any excess water drains from the seeds and air can enter the bottle.
- Rinse the seeds several times per day.
- Sprouting occurs in one to three days and then the sprouts are ready to eat.
- Always rinse the seeds thoroughly before eating.
Health Benefits of Sprouts
People with diabetes often benefit from sprouts because they appear to let them control their blood sugar efficiently by lowering blood glucose levels. Sprouts have lower levels of carbohydrates which reduce insulin. The enzymes found in the sprouts help to further breakdown the carbohydrates.
Digestive health also appears to respond well to sprouts by increasing the amount of fiber. The insoluble fiber does not readily dissolve in the stomach and instead works as a prebiotic which bolsters the body’s supply of good bacteria.
The heart also appears to benefit from sprouts which assist in lowering cholesterol levels and increase good HDL cholesterol. With lower cholesterol the risk of heart disease drops.
Dangers of Sprouts
Sprouts are not without risks. They can become contaminated with foodborne bacteria such as e. Coli. The warm wet conditions where sprouts thrive are also ideal growth areas for the dangerous bacteria. Many reports of foodborne illnesses have been linked to sprouts.
To avoid food poisoning:
- Never eat sprouts that are slimy or have an unpleasant smell.
- Keep sprouts chilled at less than 48 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Rinse sprouts before eating.
- Wash your hands prior to handling the sprouts.
- Always grow sprouts in sanitized containers.
What are Microgreens?
The microgreen stage is the intermediate timespan that takes place between sprouts and baby greens. It occurs in less than seven to 14 days depending on the type of plant being grown. Microgreens like high light and low humidity. They grow well in either soil or a hydroponic growing pad. Your palate will be able to tell the difference between sprouts and microgreens. The microgreen boasts a very robust flavor and text compared to the sprouts.
You can easily grow microgreens in your home. They offer abundant vitamins, antioxidants, and fiber. Usually, they have high levels of much needed vitamin C, vitamin A, vitamin E and carotenoids.
Microgreens grow well in simple containers on your windowsill. They are fun for all ages to cultivate.
- Pick a shallow container such as a pie plate.
- Place about one to two inches of moist potting soil in the bottom of the container.
- Flatten and level the soil using your hand or piece of cardboard. Do not over compress the soil, instead leave it light and fluffy.
- Scatter seeds in an even pattern across the top of the soil
- Press the seeds gently into the soil. Do not push them deeply but only lightly.
- Cover the seeds with a light sprinkling of soil.
- Take a mister bottle and lightly moisten the soil.
- At this point, you can cover the counter using plastic wrap or a clear lid to create like a mini-greenhouse if you prefer. This is not necessary but a nice step. If you opt not to do this then you’ll want to mist the soil daily at least once or twice. Keep the soil from drying out while you wait for the microgreens to germinate. Remember, the soil needs to feel moist but not overly wet.
- Watch for the seeds to sprout in three to seven days. When the seeds sprout, remove the covering if you have opted to cover the microgreens.
- Continue lightly misting the microgreens once or twice a day.
Pros and Cons of Microgreens
When comparing sprouts vs. microgreens, we always must look at the pros and cons. Above we listed the health benefits of sprouts and the potential for contaminations. Below are the pros and cons of microgreens.
- Loaded with vitamins and minerals.
- High number of polyphenols which act as antioxidants. They can lower your risk of developing cancer, heart disease, and Alzheimer’s disease.
- Have a robust, fresh flavor.
Easy to grow.
- Come in a multitude of colors.
- Can be eaten raw.
- Contain high levels of vitamin K which can interfere with certain medications such as warfarin and aspirin.
When comparing microgreens vs. sprouts, it’s hard to pick just one so why not grow both types in your home? They each have a bevy of health benefits and are remarkably healthy Their pros far outweigh their cons.