A legume with clover-shaped leaves, fenugreek microgreens add an unusual flavor to meals. A mainstay in Indian cooking, chhoti or samudra methi as they’re known in India are often paired with potatoes as tasty microgreens. Fenugreek is used as a spice in its seed form and as an herb or green in the leaf form. You might be more familiar with fenugreek as a spice, which is used in curry powder and garam masala. It is easy to grow a fenugreek plant, and even easier to grow and harvest fenugreek microgreens.
With a taste described as fresh, grassy, spicy, mustardy, and similar to curry powder, fenugreek microgreens can be added to salads, curries, or vegetable dishes. The seeds have a caramel, burnt sugar scent, but the leaves are more subtle and bitter in their taste. You will notice the bitter note at the end.
Packing a punch when it comes to nutrition, fenugreek microgreens make a great option for the home microgreen gardener to grow due to their health benefits and the unusual taste they add to a dish. Fenugreek is a good source of vitamins as well as iron. These legumes are nutrient-dense and are a healthy green to add to your food routines. Here’s what you need to know to grow your own organic fenugreek microgreens so you can harvest and eat them at home!
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Growing Fenugreek Microgreens
Fenugreek plants can be difficult to find in many places, so growing your own organic fenugreek microgreens at home is a great way to change up the flavors in your kitchen, and add more fresh greens to your meals.
Let’s start with the materials to grow your fenugreek baby fenugreek leaves! Here’s what you will need.
- Seeds: We love True Leaf Market’s fenugreek seeds. For an organic choice, consider their organic fenugreek. Otherwise, conventional fenugreek seeds are also available.
- Containers: Use a shallow tray or shallow container with drainage holes so that the root mass and medium will not get waterlogged. It is also nice to have a larger tray without drainage holes under the holed tray, as this allows you to water the microgreens from the bottom.
- Growing medium: Use a high-quality starter mix or coconut coir. Fenugreek microgreens don’t need a lot of medium and they prefer a well-draining medium. In India, they are grown in sand.
- Light: If you are growing these microgreens indoors, we recommend a T5 grow light.
- Bonus: A spray bottle is helpful to keep your microgreens moist but not too wet.
Fenugreek microgreens can handle a range of temperatures, if you are growing them in conditions that could dip to 30 degrees F, you will want a heating mat and cloche. When you grow microgreens you need a lid or cover before they sprout, so you will want either a newspaper or another opaque tray to place over the top.
You don’t have to soak your fenugreek seeds, but if you do soak them it can speed up germination. Fenugreek has a hard seed coating and when you soak the seeds before planting it encourages them to sprout quickly. In India, where fenugreek microgreens are a common commercial crop, they are soaked for 8 hours before planting.
Pre-moisten your soil by either adding water to it in another container first or by pouring some water into your empty container before you place the soil in it. Mix the soil and water well so that it is damp but not too heavy or soggy. This applies to both coconut coir and seed starting mix.
Gently pat the medium down to remove any air bubbles. You do not want your soil compressed down all the way, but slightly firm on the top. Make the soil as flat as possible to keep everything neat and tidy for planting.
Spread the seeds densely across your growing medium but try not to clump them together. A flat layer across the surface is ideal, rather than overlapping or creating clumping.
Fenugreek seeds are not the tiniest seeds but they are small, so it is easy to create a dense layer of seeds across the planting medium.
Once you’ve planted the seed in the moist soil or coconut coir, gently mist with water using a spray bottle. This will encourage sprouting but also make sure that your seeds are not too wet.
The plants need to be dark for the initial sprouting, so you can either cover the fenugreek seeds with an opaque lid or sheet of paper, or alternately cover them with a thin layer of soil. It’s even possible to use a lightweight towel. If you cover the plants with something other than your medium it will make harvesting at the end of the process a bit easier as you will not need to clean the microgreens. If you choose to cover the greens with a tray, this mimics the compression of soil and helps seeds to germinate.
If you are growing indoors, but in a cool room like a garage or in a basement, you can add a heating mat and a cloche over the top, to assist with germination. If your house is warm, you can simply keep the seeds in a dark corner or cupboard at this point. If you live in a climate that does not dip to freezing, you can keep the container on a balcony or porch.
Keep your tray in a dark area for the first few days, as the seeds need to be dark in order to germinate. Check the plants daily, and keep them moist but not too wet. A good way to tell if your plant needs water is to lift the tray. If it feels light, they probably need water. If it feels heavy, it is probably best not to water the seeds.
Watch for any signs of mold or fungal problems as the seeds turn to sprouts. It is normal for microgreens to have white, fuzzy root hairs when sprouting, particularly in the case of fenugreek. This is different from the web-like mold you will see if your tray is too wet. Using a spray bottle to water or watering from the bottom is a great way to avoid fungal or mold issues with microgreen sprouts.
To water from the bottom, simply place your growing tray in a larger tray with no holes, adding just enough water to allow it to seep upwards. Remove and empty out the excess water once the medium has absorbed enough moisture. Place your empty tray underneath to catch any drips.
When the seeds get started, you will see them sprouting and even pushing the lid upwards as they start reaching for the light. At this point, you will want to move the plant into the light. The sprouts will look yellow at this point because they have not been exposed to light for photosynthesis. At this point in the process, you can bring the seeds into the light, and they will start to turn green and form their second pair of leaves.
There will be seed hulls clinging to the top of the sprouts. Take your hand and run it gently across the top of the seedlings to knock these off. Fenugreek microgreens tend to hold on to the seed hulls a bit longer than most microgreens.
Roots will work their way down into the medium. If using a coir mat, the roots will penetrate the mat completely to support the weight of the sprouts. Seed starting mixes or loose coir will allow for good root penetration as well.
If you are growing your plant indoors, Move the seed tray under grow lights at this point in the process. Ideally, you should expose the plant to around 16 hours of light per day. You will want the light to be close to your tray so that your fenugreek microgreens do not get too leggy, but just far enough away that the heat of the lamp won’t cause damage. You could also move the plant to a windowsill.
Outdoor growers should start plants in a shady, protected area like a balcony. If your microgreens start reaching for more light, you’ll know it’s time to give them some sun, but try to make sure that it’s indirect bright light rather than full and direct sunlight. This is doubly true during the summer months, as the scorching sun is more than the greens can take!
Your microgreens should have between 1-3 leaves when you harvest. The true leaves begin to appear after the first pair. Your microgreens should be harvested from 3 inches to 5 inches tall.
Harvest your fenugreek microgreens with a pair of scissors or lightweight pruning snips. You do not have to wash the greens, particularly if you did not cover the seeds with soil. If you do prefer to wash them, a cold rinse with a mesh strainer works well.
Microgreens typically can store for up to 3 days in a mesh bag in the crisper drawer of your refrigerator. After 3 days they will start to lose nutrients and freshness. You should eat your microgreens as soon as possible after harvesting them for the best taste, level of nutrients, and freshness. Early on you can store them in their tray prior to harvest, but once they start to get leggy, harvest and refrigerate, using them quickly..
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What are the benefits of fenugreek microgreens?
A: Eating fenugreek microgreens is very healthy. Most microgreens are more nutrient-dense than their full-grown counterparts. A study found that fenugreek microgreens are more iron-rich than full-grown plants. They are also a good source of Vitamin C.
Q: How do you use fenugreek microgreens?
A: Pair microgreens with potatoes, use them in a curry, or use the fresh greens to top salads or soup. In India, they are often used with potatoes and in curry dishes.
Q: What does fenugreek microgreens taste like?
A: Fresh fenugreek microgreens have a complex taste profile with a fresh, grassy, and also spicy taste similar to mustard but more subtle, with a bitter note at the end. Eating fenugreek with potatoes or chicken is a popular use for these greens.