Sprouts vs. Microgreens: Understanding the Differences and Similarities

Sprouts vs. Microgreens: Understanding the Differences and Similarities

In the world of nutritious greens, sprouts and microgreens have become increasingly popular for their health benefits, flavors, and the quick grow cycle. Though they may seem similar at first glance, there are distinct differences between them, as well as some shared benefits. Let's dive into the world of sprouts and microgreens to explore how they compare and contrast.

What Are Sprouts?

Sprouts are seeds that have germinated and begun to grow. They are harvested just a few days after germination, before they develop true leaves. The entire plant (root, stem, and underdeveloped leaves) is consumed. Commonly sprouted seeds include alfalfa, lentils, chickpeas, and various beans.

How to Grow Sprouts:

  • Sprouts are grown in water, typically in a jar with a mesh lid or a special sprouting container.
  • They do not require soil or light, making them incredibly easy to grow indoors.
  • The process involves rinsing the seeds in water, soaking them overnight, then rinsing and draining them 2-3 times daily for 3-7 days until they're ready to eat.

What Are Microgreens?

Microgreens are young vegetable greens harvested just after the first true leaves have developed, which is usually about 1-3 weeks after germination, depending on the plant variety. Unlike sprouts, microgreens are grown in soil or a soil substitute, and they require sunlight to grow. Common microgreens include broccoli, arugula, radish, sunflowers, pea shoots, and mustard greens.

How to Grow Microgreens:

  • Microgreens are sown in a shallow tray of soil or a soilless growing medium and lightly watered.
  • They require light to grow, either from a sunny windowsill or a grow light.
  • Microgreens are harvested by cutting the stem just above the soil line, leaving the roots behind.

Similarities Between Sprouts and Microgreens

  • Nutritional Value: Both sprouts and microgreens are packed with nutrients, including vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, making them a healthy addition to any diet.
  • Grow Your Own: They can both be easily grown at home, offering a fresh, locally-sourced supplement to meals.
  • Versatility in Dishes: Both can be used to enhance the flavor, texture, and nutritional content of various dishes, including salads, sandwiches, smoothies, and more.

Key Differences

  • Growing Method: Sprouts are grown in water without light, while microgreens require soil (or a similar medium) and sunlight.
  • Part of Plant Consumed: With sprouts, the entire plant is eaten, including the root, whereas only the stem and leaves of microgreens are harvested.
  • Risk of Contamination: Sprouts are more susceptible to bacterial contamination because they are grown in a warm, moist environment. Microgreens, grown in soil and airier conditions, generally carry a lower risk.
  • Texture and Flavor: Microgreens tend to have a more developed texture and flavor profile compared to sprouts, reflecting their more mature growth stage.

Both sprouts and microgreens offer gardeners and food enthusiasts a quick, nutritious, and flavorful way to enhance their meals and support their health. Whether you lean towards the simplicity and speed of sprouting or the slightly more involved but rewarding process of growing microgreens, incorporating these greens into your diet is a small change that can make a big difference. 

-Team Good Grow