Thursday, July 8, 2010


We are entering the fourth week of our csa and receiving vegetables that are unfamiliar to us. Last week it was a beautiful, leafy, purple vegetable called Amaranth. Our farmer told us that we can cook Amaranth like spinach, but below is more info on this plant/grain courtesy of eHow.

Amaranth, meaning "unfading" in Greek, is an annual grown for food and as an ornamental.

History--Amaranth is native to the Americas and was an essential food crop of the Aztecs. After the arrival of the Spanish, amaranth cultivation declined and almost ceased in the Americas until its resurgence in the 1970s. However, the grain became a staple crop in India, Africa, China and Nepal in the interim.

The Plant--The grain amaranth, Amaranthus hypochondriacus, is most commonly grown in the U.S. Plants reach 4 to 8 feet, with large (4- to 12-inch) crimson or maroon seed heads; the seeds themselves are only 0.04 inch. Amaranth is drought tolerant and flourishes in warm climates but is vulnerable to frost.

Food--Although most people use only the seeds of the plant, the leaves are also edible. The seeds can be flaked, popped, extruded and ground into flour; amaranth is commonly found in "health food" cereals and can be baked into most any product, such as breads and crackers.

Other Uses--Some species of amaranth are grown as ornamentals. Hopi red dye comes from Amaranthus cruentus.

Advantages--Amaranth is high in protein and fiber. It is a prime source of lysine, calcium, magnesium, iron, vitamin E and polyunsaturated fatty acids. Amaranth is gluten-free.

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