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Micro herbs can make every recipe look and probably taste wonderful

Parsley micro herbs

Parsley micro herbs

“Have you heard of micro herbs?”
My friend Jo shook her head.
She eats out far more than me so I was amazed that she hadn’t come across them.

Between you and I Jo usually knows/has heard of everything that I ‘discover’ so I was thrilled.  Finally I had something really valuable to share.

I had my first taste of micro herbs at The Three Horseshoes on Mother’s day. A small teased ball of baby herbs was served as a garnish on the corned duck. Very pretty and dainty but I didn’t expect them to taste of anything until I sampled them.

They were delicious, the mix of flavours intriguing. In fact they were the best things on the plate. I adore duck. But duck with micro herbs was to die for.

I’m not really a garnish sort of girl. Just the standard scatter of parsley and sometimes coriander or chervil. It was the mix of the micro herbs that was so titillating.

Within seconds I longed to be a micro herb expert. Which herb to mix with which? What are the nutritional values? I was surprised to discover that micro herbs are packed with vroom and are more nutritious than mature herbs.

Micro herbs are harvested when the first true leaves have appeared – these are the leaves that develop after the first baby leaves appear. They germinate and reach the true leaf state within 7-21 days. So clearly you need to grow a mix of herbs with a similar germination rate. No point in putting dill, which can take up to three weeks to germinate with coriander/cilantro that takes around ten days to germinate. Cut and savour at the second leaf stage.

The great thing about micro herbs is that they can be grown on a sunny windowsill. They can be there for your pleasure 365 days a year. So in winter they could be a much needed source of vitamins, minerals and treats to tickle the palette on grey dismal days.

Some people advocate growing micro herbs on potting compost but most recommend using just Vermiculite on shallow trays. The ones that tomatoes come in from the supermarket are perfect. Fill the tray with vermiculite to a depth of about 2.5 cm/1/2 an inch. Wet this well (don’t drench) and sprinkle your seeds on the top. Put the tray in a plastic bag until germination begins. Then remove the bag and spray (or water very gently) the seedlings to keep them permanently moist.

Raymond Blanc’s Le Manoir Aux Quat’Saisons near Oxford apparently has an entire tunnel dedicated to micro herbs and greens. Why not rub shoulders with the best chefs and grow them yourself on a windowsill? If you do you will discover a whole new world of flavours and zing. And your garnishes will look wonderful too!


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10 Comments

  1. Great Post , If anyone is struggling to find micro herbs to buy ,you can order them direct from the grower at www.teignvalleymicroherbs.co.uk
    Thankyou

  2. Great post. Thanks for the info and great ideas. I am going to try this over the winter and if it don’t do well I will try it in the spring.

  3. Brightspark

    Hi Fiona – did you happen to see Raymond Blanc’s Kitchen Secrets tonight, 18 April, he welcomed a micro herb grower into his kitchen and cooked with some of the herbs. Even tiny cucumbers, still with flowers on them. Amazing.
    Perhaps if you didn’t catch the program, you can see it on iPlayer, or see here:
    http://www.raymondblanc.com/BBC-SERIES-KITCHEN-SECRETS/Kitchen-Secrets-Episode-Eight-Summer-Greens.aspx.

  4. Toffeeapple

    It was at Le Manoir that I first tasted these delicious little morsels, but I still haven’t got around to growing them for myself.

  5. Diane – I bought a kilo of organic alfalfa seeds for sprouting from Suma from my local whole food shop who ordered then for me. It was much cheaper than the small packets and they have lasted ages. I use enough seeds to cover the bottom of each of the 3 trays on my sprouter after they have soaked overnight, then I have a big bag of sprouts in the fridge to eat while the next lot are growing. It’s ages now since I bought my kilo of seeds but I am sure that Suma will do other sprouting seeds in bulk too. Fenugreek are lovely and taste like fresh peas unfortunately they make your sweat smell of curry which is how the seeds smell. I don’t sprout many of those now.

  6. Seed packets are pretty expensive if you are going to harvest at a very tiny stage. I wonder if you could use bulk spice seeds like caraway, dill seed and fennel seed. I buy the very high priced sprouting seeds for alfalfa but I found some organic bulk lentils from a natural food store that sprout beautifully and are very inexpensive. I use them instead of mung beans now for stir fries.

  7. This sounds great, I usually have a trough of lettuce on the window sill in my kitchen that I pick a few leaves from as needed but this sounds much better. I also sprout alfalfa and various other seeds which I eat at the very early stage like cress which also give a sarnie a great taste. They stay dry if you are making a packed lunch so you don’t have soggy bread, but are crunchy and moist at the same time when you eat them.

  8. not just micro herbs. any young green leaf that you normally eat when mature will have a similar effect. I grew a tray of lettuce that way last year – scattered seeds over a seed tray, just kept clipping baby leaves from it for sandwiches. maybe 10 various leaves for a sandwich – the flavour is out of all proportion to the amount of leaf. amazing. that one tray of seeds kept me in enough leaves for sandwiches, repeatedly going back, everyday for about a month. really good value. I’d imagine you could do a salad that way as well, although you’d need more than one tray – and mix a variety of lettuce leaves with microherbs would taste absolutely out of this world. Definitely worth a try.

  9. I got some speedy micro greens – rocket and some basil. They took about three weeks are were great in salads. I got them from Suttons. They call them speedy veg.

  10. Thanks for sharing that, it sounds delicious – will definitely be giving that a go.

    Zoe

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