Micro-Veggie Trend Lays Roots in Long Island

October 01, 2008 08:00 AM
by Isabel Cowles
A greenhouse dedicated to micro-vegetables has been established in Long Island.

Eat Your Micro-Veggies!

Koppert Cress, a Dutch company specializing in micro-vegetables, has opened a greenhouse in Cutchogue, Long Island, to service restaurants in the New York metropolitan area.

Micro-vegetables, like microgreens, are small, flavor packed plants that have become increasingly popular in the culinary world. They are harvested when small to retain their intense flavor, and can be ready to eat within a week of planting.

Although microgreens are used primarily as a garnish, micro-vegetables are also used to enhance the flavor of a dish.

Because of their intense taste, micro-vegetables must be used with care. Steven De Bruyn, executive chef and wine director of the Garden City Hotel, who has been using microgreens since the 1980s ,explains, “We’re actually being very cautious not to throw it on whatever. … It’s a shame because a lot of people forget you are actually working with herbs. It has to have integrity with the whole dish.”

Despite their strong flavor profile, anecdotal evidence suggests that micro-vegetables are more popular than ever. According to Jessica A. Chittenden, spokeswoman for the Department of Agriculture and Markets, “There is a great demand for those commodities, therefore farmers are responding. And we’re seeing more farmers diversify their commodity line with heirloom varieties, ethnic varieties of different fruits and vegetables as well as the microgreens and baby vegetables.”

Koppert Cress opened its Cutchogue greenhouse in October of 2006, and was harvesting plants by January of 2007. Since then, the company’s output of micro-vegetables has increased from 200 to 900 boxes a week. Restaurants in New York and the surrounding area as well as food delivery services like Fresh Direct have taken to the product.

Although the company also sells microgreens and flowers, it focuses on marketing its rare and heirloom micro-vegetables. Koppert Cress is able to deliver plants live and uncut, contained in a patented natural fiber, which preserves the integrity of the flavor and facilitates year-round growth and an extended shelf life.

According to Nicolas Mazard, who established Koppert Cress’s Long Island greenhouse, “Our micro-vegetables are marketed in their original natural fiber growing medium, and in that way they can meet the highest food safety requirements. The product is alive, but not sandy!”

Koppert Cress has been building the microgreens and vegetable industry abroad for the past 15 years: the company currently sells more than 20,000 boxes of microgreens a week in Europe.

Reference: Koppert Cress micro-veggies

Related: Herbs


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