Micro greens fill specialty category

Apr 16, 2013 by Chef Mary Beth LawtonJohnson

Yachts are all about specialty items. From interiors to special cruising destinations to the finale of specialized cuisine. Among the specialties that have been chefs’ darlings for years are micro greens.

What are micro greens? Technically speaking, they are lilliputan plants, the smallest of all plants, about an inch or two long.

Don’t make the mistake of thinking that micro greens are sprouts. Sprouts are germinated in water, not soil. They are grown in low light, making them more susceptible to E coli and bacteria. Sprout turn-around time from growth to harvesting is 48 hours; micro greens take one to two weeks.

Micro greens are very versatile and can add a flavorful twist to anything from appetizers to salad or simply add a whimsical garnish to any dish.

However, they offer so much more. Micro carrots are perfect atop a steamed, stuffed cabbage with carrots and foie gras. Try micro pea shoots atop that tuna you are serving with regular peas. Other common varieties include amaranth, basil, beet, celery, parsley, radish, and cilantro.

Micro greens lend themselves to a lot of uses and not just decoration. Throw them into soups for a fresh spring look or atop a chicken or lobster salad. Incorporate them into sandwiches for a more healthy approach to dining. If you have a shaved salad of kohlrabi, then use kohlrabi micro greens to compliment them.

When they first came out more than 15 years ago in the United States, there was not a lot of variety, almost no variety as a matter of fact. That is not the case today. There are too many to name now that can be used to complement your cooking onboard.

You should know, though, that micro greens are not cheap. But let’s look at the pros and cons next time you come across them and why you might consider buying them.

The cons: They don’t last. The minute they are refrigerated, they start to wilt. They are fragile. If you grow your own then it will cost you about $14 to $18 and more to get started.

The pros: Dense in nutrients, micro greens contain chlorophyll, phytonutrients and enzymes. For example, sunflower seeds contain as much protein as chicken. They also contain large amounts of zinc phosphorus, and inflammation-fighting enzymes.

We all know the wonders and nutritional benefits of wheatgrass and how it cleanses the body, detoxes and offers the benefits of chlorophyll. Did you also know it is considered a micro green?

Although we might think of pea shoots as long stalks with tiny pea tendrils on the end, reconsider them in this light: they contain more vitamins and nutrients than any fruit we can consume. Actually eight times more folic acid than bean sprouts and more than seven times the amount of vitamin C found in blueberries.

Unlike sprouts, micro greens are grown in soil, reducing the pathogens introduced by humidity and water.

Europe started the first living micro green sold in paper cups. Now that has spread around the world and you can often find them in specialty stores. If you can’t find them where you are, look online for the grower, usually a farm that specializes in micro greens. Then you can have them shipped to you. Time is of the essence when dealing with micro greens.

If you can grow plants onboard, consider growing your own micro greens. They are easy to cultivate, harvesting at only one to two weeks of age. If allowed to grow more, they are considered baby greens, such as the ones we find in a grocery store, also delicious.

There are plenty of mail order stores that carry seeds for germination.

Mary Beth Lawton Johnson is a certified executive pastry chef and Chef de Cuisine and has worked on yachts for more than 20 years. Comments on this column are welcome at editorial@the-triton.com.


About Chef Mary Beth LawtonJohnson

Mary Beth Lawton Johnson is a certified executive pastry chef and Chef de Cuisine and has worked on yachts for more than 25 years.

View all posts by Chef Mary Beth LawtonJohnson →