I often get people asking me what the best microgreens to grow are. The answer isn’t as simple as some would like. The only way to give a good answer is to ask why are you asking? In this post I will cover the best microgreens to grow for 4 different scenarios. Some microgreens will be in every category while others might make just one list. I will then tell you how to know what the best microgreens to grow for you would be.
These would be the microgreens my family and I enjoy consuming the most. I will list out some of our favorites, maybe you will want to try some of these yourself. We enjoy many different varieties, though the three below rank high in our house.
Easily a family favorite. If you have never had a sunflower shoot, they are a little difficult to explain. Sunflower shoots have a nutty sort of flavor with a nice crunch. Everyone in our house loves them and our kids even take them to school as a healthy snack. These are a very popular microgreen due in large part to all the ways they can be consumed. They can be added to a salad, eaten on their own or even used to make a fancy pesto.
Pea shoots are a very close second to sunflower shoots for many of the same reasons. Pea shoots taste, well, just like a sweet pea. If harvested early they are extremely tender with very little fiber. We grow two types, the pea shoot (Speckled pea) and pea tendrils (Green pea). The tendrils are a little sweeter than the pea shoots, though the pea shoots are a little fluffier and may be better as a snack. Pea shoots are great in a salad, in recipes or just added to your plate for a beautiful and tasty garnish.
Radish microgreens, like many microgreens taste exactly like their adult crop. Everyone who ever tastes a radish microgreen for the first time is also shocked at the strong radish flavor. Again this is a microgreen our kids love as a snack though they can be a bit spicy. Radish comes in many varieties and mainly in three colors, all of different shades. Daikon radish has a nice white stem and is known to have some significant health benefits. China rose radish has a beautiful pink stem and a spicy bite while Sango radish has deep purple leaves and stems. We grow many different kinds of radish and love them all.
Some microgreens really stand out for being either extremely easy to grow or just down right difficult. Below I will list what we find to be nearly foolproof varieties that anyone interested shouldn’t be afraid to try growing.
One of our favorites as listed above and quite possibly the easiest of all to grow. We use the exact same growing techniques on radish as we do many other microgreens. However radish are consistently the easiest to grow. Radish microgreens have extremely high germination rates, consume the perfect amount of water needing a heavy dose once a day. Lighting requirements are minimal with radish and can be grown easily on a well lit window sill. Also a very fast growing microgreen, radish is ready to harvest in 7 – 10 days from planting.
Another microgreen making a showing in at least two of the four categories are pea shoots. We have found soaking the seeds in water for 4 to 5 hours increases the harvested yield though it is not required and we typically plant them dry to eliminate the step of soaking. Watering pea shoots is very easy as they can be watered from above without knocking down the shoots, this also helps keep them nice and clean. Harvesting pea shoots is also very easy because they are tall and not too delicate. Pea shoots are ready to harvest in 7 – 10 days while pea tendrils take a little longer at right around 14 days.
This is a large family of microgreens that includes cabbage, kale, broccoli and cauliflower. All of these tend to be easy to grow, the same method used for radish is used on brassicas. These can require a little more light than radish but can still be easily grown on a well lit window sill. Brassica microgreens are best watered from below to avoid knocking over the tender plants. Brassica microgreens seed hulls tend to be very small and don’t stick to the making them very easy to harvest.
This is the category most people asking are interested in. This is also the most difficult category to answer because there are so many different restaurants and cuisines. The chefs that purchase my microgreens may like something totally different than what your chefs will want. In my experience, you can’t really go wrong with colorful microgreens as chefs tend to use them to brighten up their plates and really separate themselves from competition. Microgreens can take an average dish and make it look like a dish that should sell for twice the price. We eat with our eyes first, if it looks delicious, it’s more likely to taste delicious.
We never have any trouble selling bulls blood beets. With their bright red stems and leaves with multiple shades of red these are just gorgeous. We have not yet had a chef tell us they no longer want bulls blood beet microgreens. Not only do they look amazing, they also taste great, just like a full grown beet but maybe a little better due to being small. As a grower beet microgreens are one of the most difficult microgreens to grow, however with the right process this problem can be lessened.
Chefs love sunflower shoots for all the same reasons we love them at home. That flavor, that crisp crunch combined the many things they can use them for makes them a favorite. Many chefs have never heard of a sunflower shoot microgreen, though once they try them they are hooked. Sunflower shoots have a pesky seed hull that can be difficult to remove making them time consuming for harvest. They can be watered from above which really helps them break free of the hull and gives them a nice wash down daily.
Red Garnet Amaranth microgreens are another one of the most beautiful microgreens you can grow. These beautiful little plants are bright red and pick, they look very similar to and can be confused with bulls blood beets. In the past when we have struggled to grow bulls blood beets we would offer chefs Amaranth. Many times chefs were not familiar with Amaranth but once introduced would ask for it. Amaranth is a difficult microgreen to grow consistently, though mastering them is not too difficult. Amaranth is very small and yields can be as little as 4 ounces per 1020 tray.
Basil microgreens have a great, fresh and powerful basil flavor. Chefs can use basil in many different dishes, especially Italian plates. Basil comes in many different varieties and colors. A personal favorite of mine (Didn’t make my favorites list), basil can be tricky to grow consistently. Basil microgreens need to be planted lightly, avoiding seeds touching each other. When basil seeds get wet they form a gel like coating that makes them stick together making harvesting difficult if planted to heavily.
On its own Cilantro microgreens tend to be a love it or hate it microgreen. They have a very strong flavor, those who don’t care for them say they taste soapy though I love them and so do chefs. Cilantro is great in Mexican dishes and many others. This is another difficult microgreen to grow, though once a successful process is in place they become much easier. Cilantro can take a long time to be ready for harvest, sometimes as much as 3 weeks is needed so it is important to plan ahead.
All of our chefs enjoy radish microgreens and use them weekly. Due to their bright colors and bold flavor radish are a clear favorite among chefs. They are an excellent addition to salads and many different plates. Whether as a garnish or a main ingredient, these are a favorite for many reasons.
When growing as a business, this is the most important category. When trying to figure out what microgreens are the most profitable there are several things to consider. Below is a list of the most important factors to consider.
With the list of factors above, you should be able to figure out which microgreens are the most profitable. Two of our most profitable are radish and pea shoots. In many cases you can’t just sell the most profitable varieties. If you refer to the chefs favorites list you will see many microgreens that are not highly profitable, though they are necessary to sell in order to keep the client happy. I hope this blog post was educational and helpful for many growers.