Sprouts, Microgreens and “Baby Leaf” Vegetables

Francesco Di Gioia, Massimiliano Renna, Pietro Santamaria

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

119 Scopus citations


After a brief introduction regarding the definitions of sprouts, microgreens and “baby leaf” vegetables, this chapter provides an overview of this growing market segment within the sector of vegetable products. Given their short growth cycle (4–10 days), sprouts are usually grown in the dark, without a growing medium and without fertilizers and agrochemicals. Their edible portion is constituted by the entire sprout, including the rootlets. From a biological point of view, the sprout represents the first stage of growth of a plant that starts from seed germination. “Microgreens” is instead a marketing term used to describe a category of products that has no legal definition. They differ from sprouts because they require light and a growing medium and have a longer growth cycle (7–28 days); the edible portion is constituted by stem and cotyledons and often by the emerging first true leaves. By contrast, “baby leaf” vegetables are grown in the presence of light, either in soil or soilless systems, have a longer growth cycle (20–40), usually require the use of fertilizers and agrochemicals and are harvested after the development of the true leaves. A specific section, including an introductory description, utilized species, production techniques, postharvest handling and nutritional properties, is dedicated to each vegetable category. This chapter highlights also the sensory traits and describes the overall quality concept for sprouts, microgreens and “baby leaf” vegetables, including the aspects associated to the microbiological safety of these vegetables. The chapter is completed by five tables and six figures, which offer the reader an immediate understanding of several aspects characterizing these vegetable categories and provide specific information on some nutritional properties of microgreens, such as the contents of ascorbic acid, α-tocopherol, phylloquinone, nitrates and minerals. For some bioactive compounds, the relative amount of fresh product necessary to satisfy the recommended daily intake is also reported.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationFood Engineering Series
Number of pages30
StatePublished - 2017

Publication series

NameFood Engineering Series
ISSN (Print)1571-0297

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Food Science
  • Bioengineering
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Process Chemistry and Technology


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