Each flower head of the Hopi Indian Red Dye Amaranth can provide up to sixty thousand seeds. This is a must have heirloom grain crop for every sustainable gardener to grow.
Even the smallest backyard garden would surely want to fit this beauty into their landscape. I have even successfully grown it in large pots. With a little pruning it can be made into a gorgeous annual ornamental plant.The Amaranth is very drought tolerant and can be grown in most soil types.
The leaves of Amaranth, also called Indian Spinach are delightful eaten when small sprouts and resemble the flavor of sweet, but slightly spicy spinach. We add them to fresh salads and my favorite is to add them to the filling of homemade egg rolls. When the plant matures the leaves become tough, even when cooked.
The grand prize is the flower head full of seeds. Amaranth seeds can be ground into flour that has a spectacular light nutty flavor. They are a powerhouse of iron, fiber and antioxidants. Amaranth is far higher than most all other grains and seeds in protein, amino acids and lysine. Amaranth also contains a form of vitamin E that has a cholesterol lowering effect.
To make homemade Amaranth flour you will need to collect as many flower heads as possible. I lay them on a sheet that I spread on our drying racks. They need to be away from the soil and dry quickly in the sun and the sheet will catch any shattered seeds in the process.
After they have dried I gently shake the flower heads to catch the rest of the seeds. I then run them through a simple hand crank flour sifter to winnow the chaff from the seed. We have just harvested our first 2 1/2 pounds of Amaranth and I’m anxious to mill it into fresh gluten free flour.
The seeds are tiny and the new grain mill will only grind them so far. Next on my list of purchases will be a hand crank flour mill. But for now I simply whipped up the seeds in a little magic bullet food processor. It made the seeds fine and soft enough to mix in with some other whole grain flours.
I’m now well on my way to making some homemade pasta and breads. My first endeavor has been making spinach and amaranth fettuccine pasta. Join me in my kitchen to see how easy it can be.The sweet and nutty flavors of the spinach and amaranth are delicious together.
There comes an inner peace with sustainability. With a little time invested in growing and harvesting a few grain crops you can be well on your way to eating healthier natural foods.