The Fresh Food Movement and Microgreens

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Edible flowers for salads

There’s been a recent movement to make food fresher, especially with the push toward organic and health trends like vegetarianism and veganism. Naturally, it makes sense that restaurants would pick up on this movement and incorporate it into their menus, especially fine dining restaurants. As the economy has picked up, so too have visits to fine dining establishments–a recent study showed that visits to upscale restaurants were up 3%. This is good for the whole restaurant industry, since fine dining comprises about 10% of restaurant sales overall.
With the fresh food movement, chefs have been relying more and more on fresh and new ways of making dishes aesthetically pleasing as well as tasty. This has been a nationwide trend. One of these ways is to use microgreens and edible flowers in main dishes, salads, and desserts. Microgreens can add an interesting flavor, texture, or burst of color to a dish. Edible flowers (especially sugar flowers and candied flowers) can be used as extra aesthetic appeal especially in desserts. Those who grow microgreens have found their business becoming increasingly lucrative, as there are over 100 usual garden flowers that are both delicious and beautiful.
What Are Microgreens Anyway?
Although it sounds very specific, the definition of microgreens is actually pretty simple. They’re seedlings that got harvested a little earlier, so they didn’t reach their mature size. They are NOT sprouts, although many people claim that microgreens are that and nothing else. Sprouts are simply the shoots of a plant. The term microgreens is fairly recent (in common use from the last 20-30 years), but the plants in question were used before that by settlers, indigenous people, and others.
The Interest in Learning to Grow Microgreens
It’s not advised that you try to grow microgreens yourself. This is a plant that’s not a DIY project. It can be a lucrative enterprise, especially since they’re coming into popular use, but it’s not a simple one. There are several specific restrictions and guidelines that must be followed for high quality microgreens. As an example, there’s a rating system used for the marketability of microgreens. The scale runs from 1-5. A microgreen that scores a 1 is considered poor, while a 5 is excellent. The scores are based on the microgreens’ visual appearance. A 3 or better is marketable and anything under a 3 is unmarketable. Additionally, microgreens should be stored at a specific temperature (39.2 Fahrenheit) to keep them at their best visual appeal and flavor.
Where Can Microgreens Be Found?
You’ll most often see microgreens in salads–arugula, kale, and cilantro, for example–to add a diversity of color and spark of flavor that pairs well with dressings on the sweeter side. They can also be used as a plating technique, providing a green and leafy background to a meat entree or a little palate cleanser on the side. Some microgreens can be found in your local store (or even a health food store) and are easy to cook and use in your own home.
Since the appeal of microgreens has risen, you’re sure to see these small plants appear more and more over the course of the next few years. Keep your eyes peeled at a restaurant to see if you can spot some, or try to incorporate them into your own cooking.

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