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amaranth

 
paul wheaton
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Somebody was talking about amaranth here not too long ago.  And then I found this video today ...



 
Travis Philp
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Location: ZONE 5a Lindsay Ontario Canada
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I love amaranth! Not quite as good as lambs quarters but still tasty and nutritious. I've heard that the tiny seeds can be cooked like pop corn and look forward to trying that next year.
 
Joel Hollingsworth
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Location: Oakland, CA
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Yes, in Mexico DF, street vendors sell a snack food called "alegrias" or "amaranto" made of puffed amaranth seeds. It comes in big blocks wrapped in plastic, over 1" thick and maybe 4" x 8". It's halfway between a granola bar and a popcorn ball, but less sugary than either, usually with two raisins in the top as a garnish.

I was just thinking I should find the recipe, when I discovered that they carry the puffed seeds in a local supermarket.

I found the following recipe at http://www.aztecgardens.com/recipes.html .

Alegrías (These delicious amaranth snacks are typical of Mexico
City)

5 cups of toasted amaranth seeds
¾ cup honey

Amaranth seeds, once toasted, resemble tiny popcorn.  Warm the
honey over low heat.  Mix the amaranth with the warm honey until
the amaranth is well coated.  Press the mixture into a lightly greased
square pan, about 1 inch deep.  Make sure the mixture is an even
thickness.  Cut the alegrias into small squares while the mixture is
still warm.  Let cool. 

You can also add other seeds to this mixture including peanuts and
walnuts.  Dried fruits such as raisins also work well. 
 
charles c. johnson
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isn't this also called pigsweed
 
Travis Philp
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yep, I've heard pigweed used to refer to amaranth
 
                    
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I believe pigweed is in the amaranth family, but they're not the same species.  Amaranth's wild ancestor? 

I'm going to try the popped amaranth thing, it's difficult to think of other uses beyond soup because the seeds are so danged small. 
 
Travis Philp
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Location: ZONE 5a Lindsay Ontario Canada
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marina wrote:
I believe pigweed is in the amaranth family, but they're not the same species.  Amaranth's wild ancestor? 

I'm going to try the popped amaranth thing, it's difficult to think of other uses beyond soup because the seeds are so danged small. 


well, pigweed is a common name so it could pertain to any plant really. I've heard people use pigweed to refer to lambs quarters (Chenopodium album)

The leaves are pretty good in a salad or steamed
 
                    
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Good point.  Common names can be misleading and confusing in general. 
 
Rob Sigg
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Location: PA-Zone 6
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You can also pop sorghum, it tastes and looks just like popcorn..its just a bit smaller.
 
                            
Posts: 22
Location: Cholula, Mexico
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Amaranth seeds are easy to pop, although the process is a bit chaotic. All you need is a large pan/wok/skillet and a wooden spoon with some cloth wrapped around it. Just throw the seeds in the hot skillet with some water and move with the spoon, they will begin to fly everywhere but you'll still have a substantial amount in the skillet at the end. You can eat them any way you like (alegrías are yummy but laborious so I just buy them  :wink: in cereal, oatmeal, cookies, baked goods. You can also grind the puffed seeds into flour. I love adding them to licuados (fruit+milk shakes).

As far as the leaves go (quelites), be sure to steam them and wring them out as they contain saponins and can become quite bitter. I once tasted a delicious mix of quelites with ground pumpkin seeds, almost like a paté. I generally use them in the same way as cooked spinach... A very traditional way to eat them is on a tlacoyo (kind of like a large tortilla stuffed with beans or lima beans) with requesón (kind of like ricotta cheese) and nopales... Yum!!!
 
Brenda Groth
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Location: North Central Michigan
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couldn't you put a splatter screen over the top..or do them in a stircrazy popcorn popper that stirs as it pops?? or one of those range top poppers with a stirrer in them
 
                            
Posts: 22
Location: Cholula, Mexico
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My folks experimented for years with electric popcorn poppers and different non-splattering methods with no luck, and finally decided that the ages-old way of popping works best. I also assume that if people have chosen to pop amaranth this way for hundred (or thousands) of years there's probably a reason. However, feel free to experiment with other methods; the range-top popcorn popper may work, although I'm not sure it exposure to air has to do with the popping process. As far as the splatter screen, my guess is that as soon as you lifted it to stir the amaranth would fly everywhere: part of the trick is to stir constantly. If you're new to popping, I'd suggest you try the traditional method first and then experiment after seeing how the process works. I'm lucky enough to be able to get it popped at the shop 

Once you get the amaranth popped, you can make a nice flour in a mill or coffee grinder which you can add to breads, pancakes, shakes, etc. You can also use it as a base for horchata. The plain popped grains are also lovely on cereal, fresh fruit, in oatmeal, etc. If you wish to use the flour in breads, always mix it with wheat of whatever flour you use, as it can be rather gooey on its own. 
 
Nacho Collado
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Location: Granada City (that's in the south of Spain)
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Popping amaranth seeds in the skillet with a bit of water? Or isn't it a bit of oil instead?
 
                            
Posts: 22
Location: Cholula, Mexico
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cimarrron wrote:
Popping amaranth seeds in the skillet with a bit of water? Or isn't it a bit of oil instead?


Definitely water. It has something to do with water vapor, I guess. I've never tried it with oil nor heard of it being done; oil might just toast the seeds without popping them. Worth a try, perhaps 
 
                    
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i'm new to farming. but for some reason i have it in my head that amaranth should be my best 'grain' crop. I'm trying to start with subsistence growing. as is I only have some seed from a only somewhat reliable source. does anyone have a good source for some additional amaranth seed?

i often see it grouped with quinoa. another which i hope to grow as a grain.

chia as well.

has anyone tried any natural farming techniques with these crops? maybe attack the vegetation then spread the seeds at an auspicious time?

any magical secrets for growing these crops would be greatly appreciated :p
 
                            
Posts: 22
Location: Cholula, Mexico
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I've noticed that wild amaranth seeds start to drop soon after the rainy season (mid-fall in the northern hemisphere), and the plants spring up quickly with the rains as well (spring/summer). I'm pretty sure amaranth follows roughly similair planting schedules to corn. I would imagine that since it grows as a "weed" in many places it should be suited quite nicely to natural agriculture 

As far as growing amaranth as a grain, it's quite difficult to digest un-popped, and boiling it takes forever (not to mention that it doesn't taste particularly good that way). Sifting and popping is very labor intensive; perhaps quinoa is better suited as a grain crop, with amaranth as a compliment. That being said I have my doubts as to how well they would grow together, as they may compete for nutrients seeing that they are similair plants. Amaranth, however, works well in polycultures and produces delicious edible leaves (note: don't eat them raw). Quinoa leaves are also edible. Experiment with them! Good luck!
 
            
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Amaranth is easy to grow.  It will self seed all over your garden.  I shake heads of seed over some areas in the fall.  They come up early and will grow tall, I like them all over the gardens to provide some shade and the lower leaves can be cut off for mulching.  I planted some field peas as part of a cover crop and they climbed the amaranth along with vetch. I do not eat the seeds but harvest young leaves.  Whats the problem with eating it raw? 
Probably makes a great dye as well. 
 
                              
Posts: 2
Location: Mediterranean
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I love amaranth and lamb's quarters leaves, but take care not to eat them during a drought as they tend to gather nitrates rapidly when they can't get to water. I learned this the hard way and the stomach pains were excruciating. They can also gather nitrates if they're over-fertilized.
 
Matthew Fallon
Posts: 308
Location: long island, ny Z-7a
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a neighbor friend gave us soem seed she thought was tulsi (holy basil) she got in india. turned out to be amaranth.
it is beautiful. grew about 9' high.  deep crimson red color. 
i harvested and sifted about a pound of grain from 2 big tops and some side shoots. . .

it as a staple crop for the aztecs and also sacred to them.

i've been using the leaves in my juice mixes with no problems,research said theyre edible. wasnt my fav in salad though.  only "problem" is that i KNOW this is gonna regrow all over the raised bed its in,and thats not really where i'd prefer to grow it as it blocks light to the bed behind.. we're looking due east in the middle picture.so left bed is north side of garden...maybe i can transplant any seedlings that pop up next spring.




 
                                      
Posts: 8
Location: Z3 MN
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Amaranth is edible as a potherb.  When it starts volunteering in your beds, let it get a few leaves, then pull it.  Here in MN, we have a wild amaranth called redroot amaranth, or pig weed.  I pull the plants when they are around 4" high, wash, cook like spinach, and eat 'em--root and all.  They are so tasty that I always leave a few plants to go to seed to make sure I have some next year.  If a plant gets too big, I'll pinch off the tender top for the pot and put the rest in compost.  (I don't have chickens.)  Amaranth seeds can be ground for flour and used in baking.  I wonder if a coarse grind would make good porridge?
 
Lolly Knowles
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This year we were able to mow early in the season, so the dreaded "horse weeds" were nipped in the bud.  Instead, there were several patches of a tall plant that sported a red feathery top by the end of the growing season.  Of course I didn't get a picture earlier in the season.  I have read several threads and seen a couple videos dealing with amaranth, so perhaps it's only wishful thinking on my part, but I wonder if that might be what I have. 
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Lolly Knowles
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I wondered what the seed looked like.
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Matthew Fallon
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Location: long island, ny Z-7a
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lolly'. yep that looks to be amaranth, compare your seed pic to mine above.

Breadwoman, Thank you! i will definitely try that next season. as i KNOW theyre going to be popping up all over the beds.. i finally pulled the last of them out yesterday, from 5 stalks we've almost got 2 lbs  of seed plan on making seedballs with some to toss around some local parks in feral areas.
 
Lolly Knowles
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Matthew Fallon wrote:
lolly'. yep that looks to be amaranth, compare your seed pic to mine above.


Thank you for the confirmation, Matthew.  I will be up there this weekend, so I hope the birds have left me some seed to gather for next year.
 
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