Express news service
KOCHI: Almost five years ago Ajay Gopinath saw microgreens for the first time. Two leaves and a stem, thrown as a seasoning on his food at a restaurant in Bangalore, immediately caught his attention. Soon he began to research them, only to find that herbs or three-inch vegetable confetti not only add flavor and color to your plate, but are also rich in nutrients.
In fact, they’re 40 times more nutrient-dense than the ripe vegetables we eat every day. After quitting his job in the bank, the 50-year-old is now growing micro-herbs full time and for a year and a half he has been selling them under the “Grow Greens” label.
About fifteen varieties of microgreens grown in two rooms of her 80 square foot house produce nearly 10kg of microgreens. Green mustard, American yellow mustard, bhok choi and sunflower grow harmoniously under Ajay’s roof, alongside varieties of radishes like sango violet, Chinese rose, red and white.
“By watching YouTube tutorials, I started my experiments with beans. By placing the seeds on damp tissue paper and newspapers, I managed to grow some, but I was not happy with the result. Later, I found authentic methods to cultivate them. I realized that not all seeds are microgreens after attending a short course run by a UK based grower. Micro-green seeds are non-genetically modified (GMO), non-hybrid, untreated and open-pollinated organisms, ”says Ajay, who lives in Chittoor, Ernakulam. He sources his seeds from Pune, Bangalore and Chattisgarh.
Microgreens also need specific growing conditions. “Since miniatures have more health benefits than a mature plant, to keep them they need to be grown in a sufficiently humid, humid and warm place,” he adds. By placing an air conditioner and a dehumidifier, Ajay keeps the room temperature below 27 degrees and the humidity between 40 and 60%.
The seeds will germinate on newspaper, tissue paper, or even plastic, but a more hygienic and efficient medium is low EC coconut peat, says Ajay. After distributing the seeds on the coconut peat placed in food grade trays with holes. They are then taken to a dimly lit room with good air circulation. In two days, the seeds will germinate and they will be taken to the grow room.
“After the germination stage, the first pair of cotyledon leaves or leaves will form in seven days. Then they can be called microgreens, and they need to be cut and dispensed immediately, ”he says. Ajay provides microgreens only to those within a two-kilometer radius of his house. “If stored in the refrigerator, it can stay fresh for 8 days, otherwise it will decompose,” Ajay adds.
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It’s not for you if
If doctors have told you to watch your protein intake, you should avoid microgreens. “Since they have vitamin K, those who take blood-thinning medications should avoid them completely,” Ajay explains. Interestingly, eating too many microgreens is also bad. An adult only needs about 25 g. “If you eat too much of it, you may feel constipated,” Ajay adds.
Is smaller better?
Microgreens are rich in nutrients and contain higher amounts of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Vitamin B12 and omega 3 fatty acids, distributed in non-vegetarian foods, are also available in microgreens, which makes these little herbs an important part of the vegan and vegetarian diet. “Polyphenols prevent ovarian, breast and prostate cancer to some extent. The presence of vitamin E is beneficial in preventing diabetes and alzhiemers. in pregnant women, sunflower microgreens help the production of breast milk, ”says Ajay.
Eat them raw!
According to Ajay, around 150 varieties of microgreens are available in the world, and India has 25 to 30 varieties. All are to be consumed raw. The stems and leaves are the only parts that should be eaten. “Microgreens have a high water content, so when cooked they are prone to losing their protein and mineral content. If you can’t eat it raw, you can sprinkle it on already cooked salads, rolls and soups, ”he says.