Amaranth is not a true cereal grain at all, but is a relative of the pigweeds. It comes from South America where it was cultivated by the Aztecs. It’s grown for its seeds (grain) and its leaves that can be cooked and eaten as greens. The grain is high in protein, particularly the amino acid lysine which is limited in the true cereal grains. The grains can be milled as-is, or the seeds can be toasted to provide more flavor. The flour lacks gluten, so it’s not suited for raised breads, but can be made into any of a number of flat breads. Some varieties can be popped much like popcorn, or can be boiled and eaten as a cereal, used in soups, granolas, and the like. Toasted or untoasted, it blends well with other grain flours.
- It is easily harvested.
- It can be grown throughout the Midwestern and Western U.S. Grain amaranth is reportedly drought-tolerant.
- The seeds of Amaranth contain about thirty percent more protein than cereals like rice, sorghum and rye. In cooked and edible forms, amaranth is competitive with wheat germ and oats – higher in some nutrients, lower in others.
- Amaranth grains grow very rapidly and their large seed heads can weigh up to 1 kilogram and contain a half-million seeds in three species of amaranth
- Raw amaranth grain, however, isn’t edible and cannot be digested. Amaranth grain must be prepared and cooked like other grains.
- The grain has 12 to 17% protein, and is high in lysine, an essential amino acid in which cereal crops are low. Common grains such as wheat and corn are rich in amino acids that amaranth lacks; thus, amaranth and other grains can complement each other.
- Amaranth stored in airtight containers with oxygen absorbers should last for many years.
- It is easy to cook.
- Amaranth seeds can be grained in a mill and used as flour. It will not rise; it can only be used for flat breads.
- It can be popped to a healthy, nutty popcorn snack.
- It can be roasted.
- It can be cooked.
- It can be sprouted.
- Simply add to a stir-fry.
- In a soup, it will work as a great thickening agent.
- Can be cooked as porridge.
- The most common usage is probably to boil the seeds and serve them as a healthy replacement for rice, pasta or couscous.
This is a good grain to add to your storage for variety and nutrition.