Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Popping Amaranth


Popping Amaranth
This spring I was enamored with the thought of planting nothing but edibles in my front yard.  Whether or not we actually ate everything was less important than the fact that it was indeed edible.  So, our traditional geraniums with spikes in our two large planters at the front of the house, were replaced with thyme, lavender and popping amaranth.

I admit, it looked a little weird and certainly didn't have the same vivid display as geraniums, but my son loved smelling the lavender whenever he went by and I enjoyed experimenting.  

By end of August, the amaranth was starting to look interesting, especially as the red colour started to intensify.

The hard frost of last week, finally did the amaranth in and it started to droop as seen above. Out of curiosity, I decided to "harvest" the seed.  

I learned a lot about growing amaranth from this site from Saltspring Island (where else!).  I also learned it is high in fibre, protein, calcium and iron.  It actually has two times more calcium than milk!  

Harvesting 5 amaranth plants didn't take a long time.  There are a lot of seeds in each plant, but in order to get a full dinner for 4, you'd probably need about 50 stalks.  Anyway, this was just a fun experiment.  Here's what I did...

Beat the heads against the lid of my canner.
The chaff, the seeds, the bugs and the dried leaves came off.
The insects flew away and I blew on the pile to separate the chaff from the grain.
Here's the pile of seeds I was left with - about 1/3 cup.
the chaff
the seed
I tried popping some in a hot cast iron pan.  There was a lot of popping noise, but there was nothing that resembled the white fluffiness of popcorn, most of the kernels just turned a toasty brown.

I also tried boiling some in water until they were somewhat soft.  They're much more flavourful than rice or other grains. Certainly something we'd eat more of.

Will we plant amaranth again next year?  That all depends on what other experiments are waiting for me to try!

2 comments:

Kris said...

Did you grow the lavender from seed or did you buy it already established? I have been trying to grow it from seed two years in a row without any success....Thanks!

Getty Stewart said...

Hi Kris,
I bought my lavender already established. I went to a seminar by Dave Hanson of Sage Gardens and he recommended that perennial herbs like lavender, rosemary, mint, etc work best from cuttings - or plugs. It's not impossible to start from seed - but challenging, as you have discovered. For our zone he recommended Munstead, Croxton's Wild or Bona Vista.
Good luck