Microgreens vs. Sprouts – Understanding the Difference

Although they contain some similarities, microgreens are not the same as sprouts. There are a few key differences, primarily in their growing methods and understanding the differences can remove any confusion between the two types of produce.

Health Risks of Sprouts

Sprouts are simply germinated seeds and the FDA is striving to regulate all businesses that produce sprouts because of an increased risk of food poisoning including those related to Salmonella and Escherichia coli 0157:H7 (e. coli). You will often see an FDA Warning on packages of sprouts that states: “The FDA advises that people who wish to reduce the risk of food borne illness should not eat raw sprouts.”

Microgreens are harvested at a time when the risks of food poisoning are non-existent, marking the first major difference between microgreens and sprouts.

Growing Methods

Sprouts are grown entirely in water, meaning that the seed is never actually planted in soil. To grow sprouts, many seeds are placed into glass containers or hydroponic equipment. The seeds grow quickly thanks to abundant moisture.  The seeds don’t need much light to grow which is why they are often havens for bacteria.

By contrast, microgreens are planted and grown in soil or a soil substitute such as peat moss. They require an environment with plentiful sunlight and circulation. Instead of planting a handful of seeds like the method used to grow sprouts, microgreens are grown from a small amount of seeds which means that each individual plant has its own opportunity to grow and develop. Most microgreens need 7-14 days or longer in order to grow. Only after the leaves are fully spread should the microgreens be harvested. The microgreens are cut along the soil surface to remove the roots.

The sun and circulation needed to properly grow microgreens reduces the risk of any pathogens or bacteria tagging along.

There is a Distinct Difference in Flavor

Microgreens have much stronger, more developed flavors than sprouts making them a superior product and the only reasonable choice for restaurants who demand high quality products. Sunshine and fertile soil are essential to growing a quality microgreen, characteristics that sprouts distinctly lack.  If you are interested in featuring Fresh Origins microgreens in your restaurant, please contact your produce distributor.  If you are a distributor interested in offering the highest quality microgreens to your customers, please contact us for more information.

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