Microgreens have taken the world by storm, and these delicate shoots harvested just as the leaves begin to unfurl are more densely packed with nutrients than their full-grown counterparts. They also are vibrant in color and consist of interesting shapes that add a pop of style to any plate, whether a restaurant or home meals. In order to preserve the delicate flavors and structure of these nutrient-rich microgreens, cutting them carefully requires a sharp blade and great precision.
Types of Cutting Tools
Scissors are the most obvious choice for homegrown microgreen harvesting. They are quick and easy and allow you to harvest exactly what you need for your meal since microgreens lose nutritional value quickly. If you are using household scissors, make sure to sanitize them completely beforehand. Simply grab a handful of the microgreens you are harvesting, and snip the bunch at the soil line. Wipe away any debris or seed hulls, and you are good to go.
Shears are like specialty scissors used for gardening, and they generally have longer grip handles and shorter blades. Many shears come apart for easy cleaning, and it is nice to have a dedicated pair of shears so you don’t have to hunt all over the house for scissors. In order to harvest microgreens with shears, simply hold a handful of microgreens and snip them close to the soil line.
Using a knife will get a nice sharp edge on your microgreens. While holding the knife in one hand, carefully pull it toward you as you cut the microgreens at the soil line. Be careful to not pull the entire plant out of the soil as you do this. Although generally it is not recommended to pull a knife toward you, as long as you are careful this is the best way to harvest microgreens because they are so delicate.
Trimmers are a little more advanced, and especially if you are selling microgreens, these will be a great tool to use. If you are harvesting many microgreens at a time, using scissors or a knife would be very time-consuming. First, angle the tray you are harvesting toward the ground, and place a clean container under the tray to catch the greens. Use the electric trimmers to carefully cut at the soil line. Cutaway from you, so that the microgreens fall into the clean container. With a few swipes of the trimmer, you will save yourself a ton of work!
Why Does a Sharp Blade Matter?
No matter which type of blade you ultimately choose to cut your greens, it is imperative that you use as sharp of a blade as possible.
- If your blade is dull it can cause oxidation and bruise the plants. Microgreens are extremely fragile, and if you plan on refrigerating them after harvest, there will be oxidation and bruising visible after they are stored.
- The microgreens will have a longer shelf life if the cut is sharper. Respiration speeds up when you cut microgreens, and the more respiration, the faster they will go bad.
- The microgreens will look crisper and more well-kept if you use a sharper blade. Especially if you are selling these microgreens, this is an important point.
How Do I Sharpen My Blade?
In order to sharpen your scissors, there are several routes you can choose. If they are not too old or dull, carefully rub sandpaper or steel wool over the blade until you sharpen it again. It will take some time to get the feel for it. If you already have a whetstone handy for knife sharpening, this is another alternative for sharpening scissors. By the time you soak it, however, you could just as easily use the sandpaper.
Shears can be sharpened the same way that scissors can. Sandpaper is a great way to do this. Most gardening shears come apart for easy access to the blade. Simply rub the sandpaper vigorously on the edge of the blade, being careful not to hurt your fingers, and your shears will be ready to roll!
Using a whetstone is the best way to sharpen a knife, and make sure that it is able to cut microgreens carefully. A whetstone usually needs to be submerged in water for 5 or 10 minutes before use, and you will know it is ready when the bubbles stop forming. A whetstone acts like sandpaper. Hold your knife at a 20-degree angle and run each edge over the stone a few times.
It is important to keep your trimmers sharpened so that your delicate microgreens will not be harmed in the process of harvesting them. The first step in cleaning trimmers is to clean the teeth with a soft cloth to remove any dirt. After the teeth are cleaned, use a flat file on the forward stroke to sharpen the teeth. As you pull the file back, pick it up off the trimmers. Finally, if you have created any burrs while filing, you can easily remove these with a whetstone.
Tips for Cutting Your Microgreens
- Most microgreens will need approximately 7-14 days until their true leaves sprout.
- Harvest time is an individual prerogative; some growers like to grow microgreens a little longer than others.
- When you are ready to harvest, plan to eat or refrigerate the greens immediately.
- Hold a handful of microgreens firmly, and use your cutting tool to clip them just above the soil level.
- Make sure to keep the microgreens out of the soil. Since they are so delicate, it is difficult to get the dirt off them.
- If they do get dirty, you will need to wash, spin and dry the microgreens.
- Make sure the microgreens are completely dry before refrigerating so they do not grow mold.
- Storing microgreens in glass bowls is best, but the sooner you eat them the better.
- Eat microgreens within 2-3 days for best results. Fresh is best!