Updated: Dec 17, 2020
When you receive your live Tiny Tree microgreens you will notice that they have arrived sprouting from either their soil or their grow mat. Read on to learn the easiest ways to determine when and how to free your greens from their roots so they can dance their way into your meals!
Harvest (n): The process of gathering your crops (in this case, your crops are your microgreens)
When Should I Harvest My Microgreens?
From the moment your greens arrive they will be ready to eat. However, as previously mentioned, you have a window of about 2-3 extra days to harvest and use as you please. Read on for two tips on determining the best moment for harvesting your greens.
Taste Test 👅👅👅
Perhaps the most direct tool you have for determining when to harvest your microgreens is your sense of taste. Simply pull out a microgreen or two and eat just above the roots. If the taste is just right, go ahead and harvest your greens. Alternatively, keep tasting a shoot or two each day until you are satisfied and intrigued by the flavor. Some microgreens get spicier as they age while others start to loose some of their flavor as they age. You should make a habit of tasting your microgreens frequently so that you can find the peak of their flavor that fits your pallet.
Look for the "True Leaf" ☘️☘️☘️
The range of time you have to eat your microgreen does have an end point. You should look for the appearance of what is known as the "true leaf" to let you know that your window to eat your Tiny Trees at the microgreen stage is coming to an end.
The 'true leaf' is the distinct middle leaf that grows in between the pair of cotyledons (the pair of leaves at the top of all microgreens). When the true leaf appears this is a sign that the plant is transitioning from a microgreen into the next phase of its life: becoming a baby green or adolescent plant. Your plant is reorganizing its nutrients and energy to support its next growth spurt. This transition means that your shoots won't taste as great as a microgreen. While still edible, they will loose some of their flavor and have a woody texture that is harder to chew. Use the appearance of a true leaf as a cue to eat your microgreens right away
Most microgreen farmers try to harvest their shoots at the first side of the true leaf bud as this is said to be the moment in which microgreens are at their optimal flavor. If you feel up to the task, see if you can keep a sharp eye on your Tiny Trees so that you can catch them at the first sign of true leaf growth. The true leaf bud will look like a tiny bump in between the cotyledon leaf pair, as pictured below.
The timing of your plant's development of its first true leaf will depend on the light you have available in your space and other confounding variables specific to your unique envrionment. So keep a keen eye on your plant's unique growth.
Note: You do not need to wait for each individual stem to develop its true leaf. Take one true leaf bud as a sign that your whole plant is ready to be eaten.
How do I harvest my microgreens?
- scissors or a sharp knife
- a jar or storage container of any kind. Try to find a container that will fit all of your microgreens without having to pack them in tight or provide them with too much empty space as extra air will lead to produce breakdown.
- paper towels or other sanitary cloth used for drying produce
- a water source to rinse your harvest (only needed when ready to consume)
Once you have your tools accessible to you, lets go over some basics:
A microgreen has a simple structure--
A long stem that shoots out from the soil and a pair of cotyledons (the beautiful round leaves at the top of the stem).
Both the stem and the cotyledon leaves are edible. Leaving us with a delicious microgreen full of vital nutrients.
To harvest your microgreens you'll be cutting them at their stems. If your microgreens came in soil, we suggest cutting your stems about an inch away from the soil line to avoid getting crumbs of the soil medium into your crop. If your microgreens came on a grow mat you can feel free to cut closer to the root as their won't be any risk of debris getting in your crop. However, please do not consume any of the roots as this presents health risks to vulnerable populations.
You can cut your stems using a sharp knife or a pair of scissors.
1. To begin, take hold of the tops of your plant with one hand, gently surrounding the cotyledon leaves in your grasp. You want to be gentle with delicate leaves while creating enough tension in the stems for a clean cut. Make sure you can see each of your fingers in your grasp so that you do not cut yourself!
2. Use your other hand to cut or snip the stems. Run the knife or scissors through your stems right above the soil line (or just above the grow mat) at a safe angle. Again, make sure each of your fingers is out range of your blade.
3. Microgreen still in grasp, flip over your handful to examine the bottom end of the stems where you just cut. If you see any flecks of soil clinging to the severed tips, brush them off into the sink, waste, or compost bin. (You will not be rinsing your microgreens yet, unless they are going directly into a meal). If you will be storing your greens after harvest, try to avoid using water to clean the ends of your stems if possible. This will maximize shelf life. Wet microgreens will rot quicker in storage.
If you find that the stems of your greens are particularly wet, you might want to consider patting them down with a paper towel.
4. Pack your handful of microgreens into your storage container. Don't pack your greens too tight, they want a little space between one another to breath. However, you don't want a ton of air in the container either, as this will lead to oxidation (the loss of vital electrons) of your greens.
Working in sections, repeat steps 1-4. Only cut through the stems that are connected to the leaf tips that are secure in your grip. Consider wiping off your blade or scissors in between sections if you collected any soil debris.
If you accidentally pull out a root as you are harvesting, simply snip it off from the bottom.
Cut your microgreens one handful at a time until your plant has no more cotyledons and just the very tips of the stems poking through the soil or grow mat. It should looks like your Tiny Tree just got a buzz cut.
When you are finished- unless your microgreens are one of our regrowing Pheonix series varieties (peas or chives) - throw the rest of your plant (the soil or grow mat with stem tips, the burlap wrap, and the plant-based bioplastic container that they came in) into the compost. All of our materials at Tiny Trees Microgreens, LLC are compostable by means of a commercial composting facility. Please return whatever remains of your microgreens back to the earth <3
If you are harvesting pea microgreens or chives microgreens, click here for our guide on how to get multiple harvests out of one plant.
How should I store my microgreens?
As we mentioned previously, microgreens should be as dry as possible when being stored in the fridge. Try to time your harvest around your watering schedule so that you can avoid harvesting microgreens right after they have been watered. If your Tiny Trees were harvested after a watering, you might consider patting them down with a paper towel.
If the rest of the products in your fridge can manage it, your fridge temperature should be set as low as you feel comfortable with. We keep our fridge over here at Tiny Trees Microgreens at a low 33 F. However, check frequently to make sure that your microgreens aren't getting accidentally frozen.
Again, you'll want to pack the right amount of greens into your storage container. Not too much and not too little.
How should I prepare my microgreens for consumption?
Rinse your microgreens briefly under a water stream. Collanders work great for a quick rinse, as do salad spinners.
2. Sprinkle your microgreens into your meal