I live on a small homestead in southcentral Alaska, and I tried viewing my dense stands of Chenopodium alba (lambsquarters, goosefoot) as a blessing rather than a curse. I know that folks eat it as a green, but I've heard of its use as a small grain. I performed an experimental harvest yesterday, and 20 minutes work yielded about 1/2lb of seeds- not too bad for a first attempt! After several rinsings, I prepared the seeds like their Chenopod cousin Quinoa. No luck. After 15 minutes, then 30, then 60, the little seeds remain hard, crunchy, and slightly bitter.
Anyone have experience with C. alba as a grain? If so, how do you prepare it!? My next attempt may involve a long soaking.
Also, if it's not exactly palatable for human use, how's its suitability for chickenfeed?
what stage where the seeds at when you harvested them? Still green, or dried off?
I've only eaten fathen seeds when either green as part of salads along with greens (i.e. early in the seed part of the season), or from a similar timed harvest but the plant is dried and then put into soups etc. They're background in both situations, but quite edible and palatable (not hard).
I focused on plants that were starting to dry out. After threshing, I was left with shiny, black seeds. The goal is to dry them and then use as rice or quinoa substitute for the coming winter. Extrapolating from my little effort and assuming some improved harvesting efficiency, I think I could get 100lbs+ from our little patch. But, unless there is some preparation trick, I'll just focus on young, green ones in the future.
Wild lambsquarters has seed coats that are up to 30 times thicker than domesticated lambsquarters. You might try growing some of the domesticated varieties. They are typically named Chenopodium berlandieri, which is the North American lambsquarters, but the European and American species hybridize with each other, so regardless of which you are already growing you could move your local population towards thinner seed coats. I have grown a variety named Huauzontle which has an extremely thin seed coat.
A method to select for thinner seed coats might be to soak the seeds in cool water, and plant only those that absorb water and swell up quickest.
Thanks, Joseph. That's a great idea. Introducing a little directional selection could definitely help. I think I may also work on processing techniques to weaken seed coat. A KOH (from wood ash) soak may work on these like NaOH does on field corn. Agricultural experimentation is fun!
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