Quinoa Doesn't Just Grow in the Andes
An Excellent Food Staple
Nothing surprises me anymore, including the fact that you can grow things like rhubarb, figs, and quinoa in more than the one place its claim to fame is. Quinoa may have originated in the Andes Mountains and it is a staple grain in Bolivia, Peru, and Chile, but you can’t and won’t tell us that it won’t grow anywhere else, because it sure will. Have you priced it over the past few years when it nearly doubled in cost? It has gone through the roof, like all good things do when supply-and-demand increases.
Quinoa was called the “Mother Grain” by the Incas. It can handle high elevations, cold weather, infertile soil, and drought. Its color also depends on its variety.
Where to Get Seed
Like I said, forget about the Andes. You can order seed in a variety of places, but you must get the best seed for your climate. Don’t try to plant processed seed, or even that from the health food store, for it is scarified to eliminate the need for long soaking. Abundant Life, Bountiful Gardens, Seeds of Change are just a few of several places that sell it.
New Mexico and Colorado are great places to plant this seed, as it thrives in the 6,000-7,000 foot range in the central Rockies, the interior Northwest, northern California, and northward near the Pacific Ocean. It doesn’t like extreme heat.
- Seeds of Change Homepage
Celebrating twenty years of offering over 1200 certified organic seed varieties for the home gardener and market-grower. Check for special web offers.
- Home page,Bountiful Gardens website,Bountiful Gardens home
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- Abundant Life Seed Company
Located inside our seed catalog are all of your favorite Abundant Life varieties - vegetable, flower, and herb seeds along with a great selection of garlic, and seed potatoes. All of which are 100% certified organic. We also have a wide selection of
How to Grow
Sow in spring in fertile soil as soon at the soil is warm, April or May. There is a need for proper moisture in soil, which will lead to correct harvest time, when the weather is likely to be dry, and that is essential. Keep the seed damp until germination. It will grow around four feet high. Also keep it weed free, to allocate all the nutrients to the plants. It grows fast with a little fertilizer to six or seven feet. It is best grown like wheat in rows spaced four feet apart, with the seed thinned to eight inches apart in each row.
Harvest seed heads when heavy and dead ripe, about mid-summer. Threshing will be easiest if harvested and plants dried inside before flailing. Rain will cause the drying seed to sprout in the heads. If rain should threaten, then cut, bundle and hang to finish drying under cover. When fully dry, spread a tarpaulin, and thresh by walking upon the stalks. Clean by pouring the seeds back and forth between two buckets in a mild breeze.
The seed coat contains saponin, which prevents insect damage and bird predation. It is also bitter and somewhat poisonous, but can be soaked out at home. The commercially grown is ready to eat! Wash only as much as you will eat very soon, as the saponin needs to be on the grain for storage purposes.
Preparing for Usage
Some seed varieties have harder coats with more saponin than others, and water hardness has a lot to do with its removal. Soak one pint of seed overnight in a half gallon glass jar with a screen cover. Drain and refill, and continue to soak and rinse with cold water two to four times a day. When the water stops foaming when rinsed, the seed is ready to cook, usually no more than 36 hours. If after 72 hours the foaming still has not ceased, bring the seed to a boil for only a moment and pour off the hot, soapy water. Boil rapidly again, and pour off a second time. The seed is ready to cook.
Another way to remove the saponin is by tying the quinoa in a muslin bag, tie it shut, and wash in a series of cold water baths until the foam has finished releasing. You can also use a blender, and blend a half cup of cold water at lowest speed. Rinse and repeat until the foam has released.
Preparation and a Few Recipes
To cook, add just enough water to cover the soaked grain. Simmer for about twenty minutes. It will keep you feeling full and energetic for quite some time. It can be used in place of rice and has a wonderful, delicate flavor with a little crunch. It has twice the protein of rice, and will expand to four times its original bulk.
I like the cooked grain with a little butter and fresh or frozen green peas. It is also good in any stew, but add it last to your meat and/or veggies, as it will absorb a lot of liquid. You can also add a teaspoon of curry powder after you cook it in chicken or veggie broth.
For breakfast, stir in a cup of rinsed quinoa into two cups boiling water. Add ½ teaspoon cinnamon and ½ cup raisins or dried currants. Cover and cook on low heat until the water has been absorbed, about 15-20 minutes.