Microgreens: The Brassica Varieties
My First Microgreens
Seems so long a go now.
My own first time growing Microgreens.
I'd read books. There were video courses. All the research and preparation had come to this moment: It was time to do it.
It was over two and a half years ago. My wife and I had just moved into our first house together. We'd inherited a raspberry farm with the house, and I'd stumbled onto the idea of Microgreens in my search for niche crops to add to our farm.
I wonder what my wife thought of me. One day, I up and took over a whole room of our new home!
I used plastic shelving and salvaged pallets to make a 12' x 12' growing table right in front of a set of east facing windows. For light, I erected a support structure with 3/4" PVC and hung state-of-the-art blue LED panel lights. I clipped cheap desk fans on the sides for airflow.
I filled three trays with regular garden soil.
It was so exciting to try out all that I'd learned! I used a bowl to try to shake out the seed across the soil. It didn't work as great as the book said it would.
The watering can was too powerful. I had to make a water diffuser out of an old can from crushed tomatoes. I punched holes in it with a scratch awl so that the water would trickle out. I literally had to hold the can over the tray with one hand and pour the water into it with the other hand!
I let them germinate... I gave them light... I waited with high hopes...
I really botched it, to be honest.
We got Microgreens, but not Microgreens that I would sell to anyone.
But they were SO TASTY! I'd never had Microgreens before. No one sells them where I live (except me, of course). I'd heard and read all about them, and they totally lived up to the hype.
It was a mix.
Kale, Kohlrabi, Arugula, Cauliflower, Broccoli, and Cabbage.
I still grow and sell that mix today. It's my 'Brassica Mix'. I also have grown most of those individual Microgreens at one time or another. And I still have Broccoli and Red Cabbage Microgreens as individual offerings.
Let me tell you why Brassica family Microgreens are special...
Flavors are on the Savory Side
Many varieties of Microgreens are either on the sweet side, or the earthy/bitter side.
Brassica Microgreens are in a different category. The word 'Brassica' refers to a family of plants that are also known as the 'cruciferous' vegetables. The flavors range from smokey to peppery.
Here's a list of Brassica types, with their flavors and colors:
Broccoli: Sweet and slightly smokey. Stems are white and light-purple, and leaves are green. If grown in intense heat and sun, the stems get darker and uniformly purple, while the flavor becomes very smokey.
Red Cabbage: Sooo smokey. The most common comparison that I've heard is that Red Cabbage Microgreens taste like gourmet mushrooms. They're a little shorter than the broccoli, with dark purple leaves and stems. Flavor intensifies in summer heat.
Arugula: Peppery, but not spicy. Very short with small leaves. Tastes like someone wrapped their fist with a big arugula leaf and belted you in the mouth. That's one reason that I sell it in a mix with the other Brassica varieties, to balance it.
Kale, Kohlrabi, Cauliflower: Similar flavor to the broccoli, but with a certain earthiness that I can only describe as "green". When people say something looks like it tastes healthy, these have that flavor to which they're referring.
But what about the Nutrients?
We'd need a whole blog series to cover this.
For one thing, these are cruciferous vegetables. That's important, because cruciferous vegetable Microgreens and sprouts are the highest concentrated sources of Sulforaphane on earth.
Simply put, it's a glucosinate that activates the NRF2 pathway with it's mighty power. That's one of the main parts of your genome that's responsible for making repairs in your DNA. Deterioration in your DNA is the main cause of most of the high-profile chronic illnesses, and also the main cause of the effects and appearance of aging.
But that's not all!
There's a great many other non-traditional nutrients that are here in robust concentrations, including other glucosinates. Polyphenols are there in abundance, which help your body correct metabolism and also detox. Glutathione is another example... the hangover cure, remember?
And don't forget the traditional nutrients and macronutrients... Vitamins A, E, K, and more! They're even up to 30% protein. No fats. Basically no carbs, either.
It's perfect power food, no matter what your diet.
Perfect Size and Texture
Other microgreens might be more versatile, but the Brassica Microgreens are the easiest to use.
There's no thought involved.
Will it work on my sandwith. Yes. Yes it will.
Can I put it on top of my lunch? My dinner? My eggs for breakfast? Yes.
They're just so easy to eat. There aren't many dishes that can be negatively effected by adding them.
They tumble well on the plate. They are easy to gather with a fork. They have just enough texture to give a crunch when you want one, but are soft enough to mix with sauces and other ingredients.
Perfect Place to Start.
Easy to grow. Easy to eat. Easy to get a real health benefit.
In many ways, they're the most approachable Microgreens on the roster. There's just no way to go wrong, no way not to be able to use them.
There's no way you could eat them and it won't help you.