Are you new to microgreens and wondering, “can you cook microgreens?”
Are you tired of using microgreens to “enhance” salads or as edible garnishes to embellish a wide variety of other dishes?
I created this post to give you everything you need on how to cook microgreens.
Can you cook microgreens? Scientific studies show microgreens have more than 20 times the nutrients of mature plants. Cooking microgreens for 15 minutes at 140-180°F will yield at least 75% of their nutrients. Vegetables lose less than 50% of their nutrients when cooked for more than 30 minutes or less.
You can certainly eat microgreens raw or cooked.
They are easy to add raw to any meal.
But I promise you will know how to cook microgreens by the time you finish reading this post.
Can Microgreens Be Cooked?
Before I show you how and when let’s take a quick look at why you would want to cook microgreens.
So, we know a few things about mighty microgreens.
- Research in the past five years has tripled.
- Demand is increasing, and supermarkets and food establishments are making them available locally.
- There is no question that they are the “latest thing” in the culinary world.
Furthermore, a very recent study in the Journal of Food Science indicates that consumers new to microgreens are fascinated by the flavors and appearance.
And they are willing to include them more often in their meals.
The fact that you are reading this post puts you with the five percent of people in the world who are leading a trend toward better nutrition and locally sourced food.
The facts are scientists consider microgreens to be live food.
They contain a wide range of vital life force nutrients (e.g., vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and oxygen) and live enzymes.
They also contain more significant amounts of nutrients and health-promoting micronutrients than their mature counterparts.
Between 5 and 40 times more, according to the most cited scientific study.
The Great Debate: To Heat or Not to Heat Microgreens
Humans have been using fire and heat to cook food for thousands of years.
Fire and heat do change the chemical composition of the food.
And yes, there is some loss of nutrients.
But we’re all still here, no?
There is really no reason for us all to go on a completely raw diet, is there?
And lest we forget, cooking does kill bacteria and viruses that can make you sick.
Cooking food at 167°F (75°C) or hotter will kill most bacteria that cause food poisoning.
Sure, cooking destroys plant enzymes.
But if you remember 6th or 7th grade (1st form), so does the hydrochloric acid that digests food in your stomach.
I don’t think you want to be too concerned about cooking microgreens.
Scour the Internet, and everybody discourages “cooking” microgreens because they say, “microgreens lose their nutritional value.”
But no one seems to have quantified just “how much nutritional value do you lose?”
So, I set out to find out.
What the Science Says
An International Journal of Scientific and Technology Research study looked at the effects of heat on different vegetables.
The scientists measured the percentage of vitamin C lost at 5, 15, and 30 minutes in the water while exposed to a constant temperature of 140°F (60°C).
|Vegetable Samples||% Lost in 5 min||%lost in 15 min||%lost in 30 min|
Table 1. % loss in concentration of Vitamin C as heating time varies
By the way, the pain threshold for your tongue is about 153°F (67.2°C)[PDF]).
The most thermolabile (definition: readily destroyed or deactivated by heat) of vitamins is
- folate (vitamin B9),
- followed by vitamin B1 (thiamin),
- B6 (pyridoxine), and
- vitamin C.
Still, most vitamins are thermolabile to some extent.
As the authors state: “Vitamin C is water-soluble and, as such, is easily leached into the water and then degraded by heat.”
But what does that mean for you and me?
What Are Microgreens Good For?
If you compared microgreens to their mature vegetables when cooked, microgreens have three times more nutrients.
Now, I must admit that there is no published work on the effect of temperature or heat on microgreens nutrition.
“Cooking” these same microgreens for 5 minutes in 140-180°F soup pot will still yield you at least 80-85% of the nutrient value.
No matter. I believe that there is enough evidence that cooking microgreens get you 200% more than cooked green vegetables!
Microgreens are a rich food source for a demanding consumer like you.
Someone who can diversify and enrich your diet using a large variety of available microgreens.
How to Make Microgreens
So just how do you cook microgreens without losing much of the nutrients?
Look no further than the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture).
They have compiled a detailed table of nutrient losses in their USDA Table of Nutrient Retention Factors: Release 6 based on how vegetables are cooked.
This is the best resource I could find.
The good news? Minerals are unaffected by cooking!
|LEGUMES,CKD 15/20MIN,BLD,WATER USED||70||70||80||75||75||65||100||100||90|
|LEGUMES,CKD 45/75MIN,BLD,WATER USED||70||65||75||70||70||50||100||100||90|
|LEGUMES,CKD 2/2.5HRS,BLD,WATER USED||70||45||80||60||55||35||100||100||90|
BKD = baked, BLD = boiled, reheated, broiled, pared, and DRND = drained
Only vitamin C, folate, and folic acid lose the most nutrients.
But then, only legumes drop below 50%.
And if you don’t already know, beans and lentils are a foundation of vegetarian, Japanese, and Mediterranean diets.
In fact, bean diets help prevent chronic diseases: obesity, heart disease, and diabetes.
Microgreens How To Cook
If you take a close look at the chart, you will have a good idea of when to use microgreens.
You will see that baking, boiling (and using the broth), and stir-frying are the best for cooking microgreens.
At home, you can learn how to cook microgreens Indian Style like any other vegetable.
I always wanted to know how to make microgreens Methi (fenugreek) Dal.
My next-door neighbor taught me how to make microgreens in Malayalam.
Or you can find a recipe on how to cook mustard microgreens, just like regular mustard greens.
How to Make Microgreens at Home
So, how do you make sure your microgreens keep the highest amount of nutrients when you cook them?
The three keys are water, temperature, and time.
Try also cooking at lower temperatures where possible – sauté or bake.
Or use a higher temperature for a shorter time – stir fry.
Try steaming rather than boiling.
Or, if you do boil, try and reuse the water in the dish.
Florida Fish Tea and Kale Microgreens
Soups are a favorite dish the world over.
Here is one of my favorites from the state of Florida in the United States,
Florida Fish Tea and Kale Microgreens
A traditional Friday evening soup on the South Beach docks.
Excellent with red snapper and seasoned to perfection with selected herbs and spices.
Add Kale, a “superfood” capable of lowering bad cholesterol.
It contains carotenoid antioxidants in high concentrations.
Carotenoid antioxidants reduce the risk of eye problems (macular degeneration and cataracts).
- Prep Time: 10 min
- Cook Time: 45 min
- Total Time: 55 min
- Yield: 8-10 cups 1x
- Category: Dinner
- Method: Boiled
- Cuisine: Caribbean
- 2 oz kale microgreens rinsed and dried
- 3 lbs. of fish (snapper) cut into pieces
- 6 cups of water
- 2 chopped onions
- 2 chopped tomatoes
- 1 hot pepper
- 1 tsp. thyme
- * squeeze of lime juice
- Place all ingredients in a pot with water.
- Bring to a boil and simmer gently for about 40 minutes.
- Add chopped kale microgreens.
- Cook for another 5 minutes.
- Strain off liquid into the serving bowl.
Keywords: kale microgreens, microgreens nutrition, cooking microgreens at home
How do I get more microgreens recipes?
Get your copy of my soup recipe book, Eat Now! Microgreen Soups: 15 Savory Pocket Recipes.
Available on Amazon for only $0.99:
What are other uses for microgreens?
Did you know you can dehydrate microgreens to preserve them for up to six months and make tea? Learn more, including how to make microgreens powers. Read my post Microgreens Can Be Dehydrated: The Easiest and Most Economical Method for Drying and Preserving (Electric Dehydration).
How do I start incorporating the health benefits of microgreens into my nutrition?
I’ve learned a lot about microgreens, how good they are for you, and what you can do with them. Check out my guide, “The Beginner’s Nutritional Guide to Incredible Microgreens.”