Amaranth Microgreens (nutrition and growing guide)

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If you want a nutritious and easy-to-grow addition to your meals, look no further than amaranth microgreens. In this article, I discuss the nutritional profile of amaranth microgreens and their numerous health benefits while providing a comprehensive guide on how to grow them at home.

Like all microgreens, amaranth is packed with nutrients that provide several health benefits. Amaranth microgreens are rich in nutrients and offer a unique look and taste profile that will elevate any dish.

white bowl of red amaranth microgreens next to sunny windowsill and scissors

Whether you’re a seasoned gardener or beginning your micro journey, growing amaranth microgreens is simple and rewarding. Incorporating these greens into your diet and understanding what they are couldn’t be easier. From salads to smoothies, the possibilities are endless for you to take advantage of the numerous benefits of Amaranth microgreens.

Humble Highlights

  • Discover the joy of growing your own delicious and nutritious amaranth microgreens at home to reap the unique benefits of this hardy, eye-catching crop.
  • Save time by exploring this step-by-step guide on growing amaranth microgreens and the necessary equipment needed to cultivate these beautiful and edible plants – even if you’re a beginner!
  • Enjoy the many advantages of amaranth with this nutritional profile chart so you can precisely determine what healthy enrichment this exceptional microgreen offers!

What Are Amaranth Microgreens

Amaranth microgreens are the baby seedlings of the amaranth plants, typically grown as herbs and are a relative of Swiss chard. Amaranth microgreens are usually harvested at only 10-12 days old when their first true leaves develop.

red amaranth microgreens

Originally cultivated by the Aztecs, amaranth is a type of grain used over centuries, especially in India, due to its many health benefits and ease of digestion. Interestingly, there are over 70 species of amaranth with various color profiles from green to pink and deep red to gold, but the most common variety used to grow microgreens is red garnet amaranth. 1

Red garnet amaranth is a lush pink/magenta that looks great when growing and even better when served on a plate as a garnish or mixed into a salad.

Amaranth microgreens have a mild, sweet, earthy flavor that pairs well with many different ingredients, making them a versatile addition to the kitchen. From salads and sandwiches to stir-fries and smoothies, there are endless possibilities for incorporating these nutrient-dense microgreens into your meals.

Amaranth Microgreen Health Benefits

Microgreens are typically known for their high nutrient content, which brings many health benefits, and amaranth microgreens are no different.

amaranth microgreens benefits

Research into microgreens is in its early stages, and some microgreens have been the subject of much more research than others. Still, some evidence supports their numerous potential health benefits. 2

So, how do amaranth microgreens weigh up? Based on research, the potential health benefits of amaranth microgreens are:

1. Boosts immunity

2. High in antioxidants, which protect from many illnesses and diseases

3. Helps reduce hair loss and greying

4. Strengthens bones

5. High in fiber, helping to suppress appetite

6. Aids digestion

7. Helps metabolize fatty acids

8. Helps eyesight

9. Supports a healthy cardiovascular system

10. Anti-inflammatory properties

In one particular study, two varieties of amaranth microgreens on mice showed potent antioxidant, anticancer, and antimicrobial activity, each having the potential to reduce the impact of illnesses and health issues.

amaranth microgreens seeds

High levels of antioxidants help fight against free radicals in the human body, reducing the risk of chronic illnesses like cardiovascular disease, stroke, and diabetes.

Poor digestive health is another potential cause of many health issues due to the lack of nutrient absorption. Amaranth microgreens are easy to digest and rich in fiber, supporting a healthy digestive system through better digestion and weight management.

While research continues, the current findings are very encouraging and, in many cases, undeniable due to the high levels of nutrients they contain. Overall, if you are looking for a healthy addition to your diet, the potential benefits of amaranth microgreens are far too good to miss out on.

Nutritional Profile Of Amaranth Microgreens

Microgreens quickly became the focus of many studies when it was discovered these mighty greens contain higher levels of nutrients when harvested in their early stages of growth, especially compared to adult vegetables.

While there is little information on the exact nutrient quantities of amaranth microgreens, the table below provides information on the typical nutritional profile of adult amaranth red garnet leaves per 100g.

NutrientValue per 100g uncookedRDA (Based on a 2000
Calorie Diet)
Energy23 Kcal1%
Carbohydrate0.33 g
Protein2.46 g4%
Fat2.46 g4%
Dietary Fiber6.7 g18%
Vitamin A146 ug195%
Vitamin B1 (Thiamin)0.027 mg2%
Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)0.158 mg12%
Vitamin B3 (Niacin)0.658 mg4%
Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic acid)0.064 mg13%
Vitamin B-6 (Pyridoxin)0.192 mg15%
Vitamin C43.3 mg48%
Vitamin E1.2 mg8%
Vitamin K1140 ug950%
Folate85 ug21%
Selenium, Se0.9 ug2%
Calcium215 mg21.5%
Copper0.162 mg18%
Iron2.32 mg29%
Magnesium55 mg13.41%
Manganese0.885 mg38.48%
Phosphorus50 mg7.14%
Zinc0.9 mg8.18%

While there are many more nutrients in amaranth, you can see that it is extremely rich in vitamins A and K with high values of other nutrients like vitamin C, many B vitamins, iron, and manganese while being rich in fiber. 3

amaranth microgreens nutrition

It’s also important to remember that the values above will differ for amaranth grains or microgreens, with research suggesting that microgreen nutrient values can be up to 40 times higher than adult plants.

The nutrient values above were sourced from the US Department Of Agriculture – USDA.

You can also read some of the latest research into amaranth microgreens below: 

1. A Review On The Nutritional Value Of Amaranth – The Crop Of The Future.

2. Amaranth Sprouts And Microgreens – A Homestead Vegetable Production Option To Enhance Food And Nutrition Security In The Rural-Urban Community.

Overall, these tiny greens look and taste great while packing a powerful nutritional punch. You won’t go wrong when incorporating tasty amaranth microgreens into your diet to enjoy their nutritional advantages while adding flavor and visual appeal to your meals.

Taste Profile Of Amaranth Microgreens

Get ready to tantalize your taste buds with these brilliant magenta microgreens’ vibrant and slightly sweet flavor. Amaranth Red Garnet microgreens have an earthy yet subtly sweet taste that adds a burst of freshness to any dish, with a unique and delightful flavor reminiscent of spinach and beetroot.

amaranth microgreens taste

Regarding culinary uses, Amaranth Red Garnet microgreens are most popularly used as a garnish due to their beautiful appearance. They can be sprinkled over salads and soups or used as a topping for sandwiches or wraps. These microgreens also pair well with sweet and savory dishes, adding color and flavor. 4

While microgreens can be grown hydroponically or in a soil-based growing medium, to get the best flavor from amaranth microgreens, a growing medium such as a 50% mixture of potting soil and 50% coco coir is best. After harvesting, correct storage will keep them fresh and taste their best for 10-20 days.

How To Grow Amaranth Microgreens

Growing amaranth microgreens is relatively easy, especially if you have the perfect growing space and equipment. It’s simply a case of sowing your seeds into a growing tray and keeping them dark for a few days in a period known as the blackout phase. Once germinated, your budding microgreens need plenty of light, with regular watering and ventilation for approximately ten days until they are ready for harvest.

amaranth microgreens grow time

If you’re ready to sow and grow your amaranth micros to reap the rewards of this beautiful, nutrient-dense superfood, then the following sections will lead you through the process step-by-step, helping you to become an expert grower in no time.

Feeling excited to grow your own amaranth microgreens? This unique, colorful, and delightful plant can be added to plenty of culinary dishes for a boost of nutrition and flavor. The following video provides detailed instructions on growing red garnet amaranth microgreens.

Equipment Requirements

The first step to growing healthy amaranth microgreens is getting the right equipment. You don’t need the most expensive equipment, especially if you want to start growing them on a small scale. Still, you’ll prefer quality equipment that works in your favor and makes the growing process easy and enjoyable. 

The ideal equipment for growing amaranth microgreens is:

  • Grow trays with drainage holes.
  • Grow trays without drainage holes for bottom watering.
  • Amaranth microgreen seeds.
  • Growing medium such as potting soil and coco coir mix for good water retention and drainage. Organic compost, perlite, and vermiculite are also good options.
  • A spray bottle.
  • LED grow lights unless you have access to unobstructed sunlight.
  • A fan unless you have a well-ventilated growing area.
  • A sharp knife, scissors, or micro-pruners to harvest your amaranth microgreens.

Although you can use any shallow pot or container, the ideal grow trays among many micro gardeners are 1020 (10”x20”), complete with drainage holes to avoid pooling water and causing root rot. The exact size trays without these drainage holes can be placed into your microgreen trays when utilizing the effective bottom watering process. 5

Humble Tip:

Remember, even when watering microgreens carefully, if you can’t provide a space with sufficient ventilation, it is common for mold to set in, so invest in a decent fan, preferably an oscillating one, that can provide air movement over a wide area.

After germination with the blackout phase, where your greens receive no light, your flourishing amaranth will require plenty of light to initiate photosynthesis. Unless you have access to long periods of daylight within your region, a suitable LED grow light will provide the necessary light for the best growth.

how to grow amaranth microgreens without soil

While most microgreens can be grown hydroponically (with only water), my microgreens grow bigger and healthier when using a growing medium. I recommend an even 50/50 mix between potting soil and coco coir or just using coco coir by itself. Coco coir has excellent water retention, which keeps roots fed evenly.

If you are a first-time microgreen grower, it may seem costly for all the equipment I have listed. Still, once you have harvested your first amaranth crop, you will appreciate how simple, nutritious, and beneficial it is, and you’ll likely look at growing additional varieties.

Preparation

As with most things, preparation is critical to success, which couldn’t be more accurate than with microgreens. Once you have added your growing medium to the tray or container of your choice, it’s time to lightly moisten the soil with the water sprayer, creating a damp environment for your microgreens to thrive.

growing amaranth in containers

Here are some essential steps to follow during this preparation stage:

1. Soaking seeds: Before planting your amaranth seeds, it’s recommended but not essential to soak them in water for about 4-6 hours. This soaking helps speed up germination and softens the outer seed hulls while ensuring a higher success rate.

2. Choosing containers: Select shallow trays or containers with drainage holes at the bottom. These holes allow excess water to escape and prevent waterlogging, which may result in root rot and disease that can spread rapidly within your tray.

3. Soil preparation: Ensure your soil is well-draining and nutrient-rich by mixing potting soil and coco coir, along with mature compost (humus), perlite, or vermiculite, if desired. Mix these components thoroughly before adding them to the grow tray.

4. Light requirements: Find a suitable location to place your amaranth microgreens so they can receive ample indirect sunlight, or set up your artificial grow lights if natural light is limited.

5. Germination time: Depending on temperature and conditions, amaranth microgreens typically take 3-4 days to germinate and emerge from the soil.

By understanding and following these steps, you’ll set a solid foundation for your microgreen amaranth crop’s successful growth and development. 6

garden amaranth microgreens

Planting

Now that everything is in place, you can start planting your amaranth microgreen seeds. Start by carefully spreading your amaranth microgreen seeds evenly across the soil, ensuring they are sown densely, yet not overcrowding any particular area, to provide optimal conditions for germination and growth.

Humble Tip:

You’ll want to adhere to the seed packet’s instructions for sowing density and align it with the surface area of your tray. By deferring to these directions, you’ll be able to increase your chances of a healthy and abundant crop as your greens begin to germinate. 

Remember, if seeds are clumping, use your finger to gently spread them more evenly over the soil without depressing them too far into your growing medium. Microgreen seeds are best left to germinate while sitting lightly atop your media, where there is better ventilation.

Place the tray in a dark area for the first 3-4 days while germination occurs. I stack 2 or 3 empty trays on top of each other, along with a small brick that goes on top of the stack. This simple technique cuts out most of the light, and the extra weight helps roots create a firm foundation in the soil.

Once germination has occurred, you can place your amaranth microgreens where they can receive approximately 16 hours of light per day. Amaranth microgreens thrive in sunlight, so your flourishing micros must be exposed to plenty of it for as long as possible. Having indoor grow lights is necessary if you don’t have a sunny spot or your region doesn’t receive adequate sunlight.

how to grow amaranth microgreens

Watering

It’s vital to check the soil moisture level daily during seed germination and throughout the growth process of your crop to keep your greens healthy. 

In fact, during germination, it’s best to check your medium’s moisture levels each day to ensure it hasn’t dried out. If, after two days, only a portion of shoots have appeared, your micros are likely not moist enough. Spray them with water, but remember that overwatering can cause mold or root rot, so strike a delicate balance.

Humble Tip

Growing microgreens is more of an art than a science. Once you’ve done it a few times and worked out the kinks, you’ll notice what to look out for. Moisture is most important for your seeds once sown. For proper plant cultivation, your growing medium should be moist, not saturated to the touch. Check the corners and sides of your tray or container, as these areas tend to dry out the fastest. 

After germination, spraying (top watering) is only necessary if you feel the leaves are drying too much. However, regular bottom watering is now required. This step means placing your microgreen tray into a shallow water tray and allowing the water to soak upwards (wick) into the soil, hydrating the tiny roots.

Again, be cautious not to overwater your thriving microgreens, which can encourage mold growth. Overwatering can lead to root rot and other issues that can harm your microgreens and create an uneven growth rate among your seeds. Based on your growing area conditions, you should be able to establish a regular watering schedule suited to the specific needs of amaranth. 7

Humble Tip:

Signs of overwatering include yellowing leaves, wilting, and an offensive odor from your growing medium. On the other hand, underwatering can cause stunted growth, dryness in the growing medium, and brittle leaves and stems. 

Maintaining proper soil moisture levels through regular checks and bottom watering when necessary will ensure optimal health for your microgreens.

when to harvest amaranth microgreens

Harvesting

Now that you’ve learned about watering your amaranth microgreens, let’s move on to the next step in the process: harvesting.

Harvesting at the right time maximizes yield and ensures the best quality microgreens. Harvesting after approximately 10-12 days or when the first true leaves (the second set of leaves the plant grows) have fully developed is recommended.

To harvest your amaranth microgreens correctly, grab a sharp knife, scissors, or micro-pruners and cut about an inch above the soil line. Gently holding a handful of your greens as you cut is the easiest method, as you can quickly transfer them to another container after each cut.

amaranth red color

After harvesting, taking care of your microgreens for extended storage is essential. You can wash them in a bowl of fresh water or rinse them under a tap if necessary. After washing, air dry them on a paper towel or colander to absorb any excess moisture.

Following these post-harvest care techniques will help you store your harvested amaranth microgreens for maximum shelf life.

Storage

Once you’ve harvested your vibrant and flavorful amaranth microgreens, it’s time to ensure their freshness and longevity through proper storage. 

To preserve the freshness of your microgreens, store them at the proper temperature. Ideally, it’s best to keep them in a cool environment with temperatures ranging between 35°F (2°C) and 40°F (4°C). This helps slow down the degradation process while helping to extend their shelf life.

how to grow red amaranth microgreens

Regarding packaging options, consider using breathable containers or plastic bags with small holes to allow air circulation. Avoid tightly sealing the container, leading to moisture buildup, sweating, and premature spoilage.

As mentioned, ensuring you have removed any excess moisture after washing by gently patting the dry microgreens makes them better suited for storage.

To maintain optimal conditions, check on your stored microgreens regularly and promptly remove any wilted or spoiled leaves to prevent them from affecting the rest of the batch. Following these storage tips, you can enjoy fresh amaranth microgreens for several weeks.

How To Eat Amaranth Microgreens

It’s now time to indulge in the delightful burst of flavor and texture that Amaranth microgreens bring to your dishes, and there are plenty of options.

red amaranth microgreens benefits

Culinary uses for amaranth microgreens are vast, as they can be used in sweet and savory dishes. Add them to salads, sandwiches, or wraps for an extra crunch and fresh taste. They also add great to smoothies or juices, providing nutrients and vibrant color. 8

Pairing amaranth microgreens with other ingredients, such as goat cheese, roasted vegetables, or grilled chicken, creates a harmonious blend of flavors.

While I can offer many possibilities, the choice is yours. Experiment until your heart’s content, as everyone’s tastes are different. For me, I like to eat my amaranth microgreens on their own, in a hearty sandwich, or toss a small handful into a nutritious smoothie.

Humble Tip:

Although microgreens can be cooked, eating them raw allows them to retain their total nutrient value and is the healthier option.

Conclusion

Growing and consuming amaranth microgreens can be a fantastic addition to your diet. These tiny greens are packed with essential nutrients like vitamins A, C, and K and healthy levels of iron and calcium.

Their unique taste profile adds a delightful crunch and mild peppery flavor to any dish. Growing amaranth microgreens is relatively easy and can be done right in your kitchen with minimal equipment. So, make sure to give these nutritious greens a try. Your body will thank you for it!

We’d love to know if you currently cultivate amaranth microgreens in your home or backyard garden. If so, let us know in the comments below what soil medium works best for this tasty and nutritious microgreen!

SOURCES

  1. Wikipedia – Amaranth
  2. ScienceDirect – Nutritional Quality And Health Benefits Of Microgreens, A Crop Of Modern Agriculture
  3. National Library Of Medicine, National Center For Biotechnology Information – Microgreens – A Comprehensive Review Of Bioactive Molecules And Health Benefits
  4. United States Department Of Agriculture – Specialty Greens Pack A Nutritional Punch
  5. University Of Nevada, Reno Extension – Microgreens And Produce Safety
  6. Purdue University, Extension – Grow Microgreens At Home
  7. MDPI – Ongoing Research On Microgreens: Nutritional Properties, Shelf-Life, Sustainable Production, Innovative Growing And Processing Approaches
  8. Mississippi State University, Extension – Growing Microgreens For The Mississippi Gardener

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