Deciding which size of our smallest greens and herbs to use is a game of inches. It’s our way of giving chefs choices that are incremental, but that make all the difference on the plate. Sizing is about precision, proportion and balance, both visually and in terms of flavor. We don’t want chefs to feel locked into a one-size-fits-all limit of options, which is why we’ve separated our farm-fresh greens and herbs into specific categories according to their stage of development. That way, chefs can choose the perfect fit for their perfect plates.
Our youngest greens are classified as “micro.” These are the smallest, most delicate greens we grow. Even though “microgreens” is a catch-all term in the industry, at The Chef’s Garden, “micro” is a very specific size. Here, the plant’s first true leaves appear, navigating upward between two embryonic, or “coty,” leaves. The immature true leaves are curled around one another and have yet to spread out. Nevertheless, they already display identifiable characteristics that express each plant’s genus, or type. Micros are between 1 ½ to 2 inches in height, very tender, and the flavor of these edible leaves is powerfully pure.
At the “petite stage,” microgreens reach from 2 to 3 inches tall. By now, the true leaves are longer and broader, fully representing their characteristic shapes. Leaves are beginning to form into clusters of multiples. The tender stems are slightly more substantial, and the flavor continues to develop and, in some cases, mellow. Petite microgreens are a larger presence on the plate, but not overly so. They cover a versatile middle ground, small enough for a delicate garnish, but hearty enough to hold up in dressed salads.
At the “ultra” stage, the greens have grown to 4 inches tall, with stems that are pleasantly al dente, giving them a more pronounced textural dimension. The well-developed, nicely proportioned edible leaves are each 1 to 2 inches long and present the option of separating individual leaves from their stems to incorporate into a dish. At this size, the heartier plants are perfect for salad mixes or even as the salad’s main component. Some are sturdy enough to be lightly sautéed with other vegetables or greens.
Like our greens, our smallest herbs are sized “micro,” and exhibit the same plant characteristics as our micro-sized greens.
Next comes “demi.” A demi herb is the smallest segment of new growth at the topmost end of a full plant. The young shoots measure 1 to 2 inches and bear four to six leaves in graduated sizes from bottom to top, the longest leaves measuring up to 1 inch.
Full-size herbs are 4- to 6-inch sprigs harvested from more mature plants. At the full stage, these edible leaves are generally between 1 to 2 ½ inches long. Leaf size is more variable at the full stage, depending on the individual variety’s unique characteristics. At this stage, the plant has not yet bloomed.
At its most mature, an herb will produce an edible bloom. Herb blooms are incredibly varied in size, shape and color, and contribute intricate flavor, texture and color components to a dish. The blooms are harvested with a short sprig bearing two to four intact leaves.
Every Stage of a Plant’s Life
At The Chef’s Garden, we mean it when we say that every stage of a plant’s life lends something unique to the plate. That’s why we grow our farm-fresh herbs and greens to a specific range of sizes. We hope this primer helps you find exactly what you’re looking for. And we’re always here to answer your questions or help you zero in on the right size.
Quick Reference: Greens
Micro 1 ½ to 2 inches
Petite 2 to 3 inches
Ultra 4 inches
Quick Reference: Herbs
Demi 2 to 3 inches
Full 4 to 6 inches
Bloom Varies with herb