Most people in Food Storage Land are all about wheat. We all know why: if you’ve been reading this blog – or any prepper blog, for that matter – for any length of time you might be sick of hearing all about wheat. “It stores well, you can make a ton of stuff with it, bread, wheat, wheat, wheat, blah blah blah.”
It’s all very nice if you like that sort of thing. But for people with gluten sensitivity or celiac disease, or if you just plain old don’t like bread, all this stuff about wheat will make you want to scream. But what else is there? It’s not like there are a ton of options when it comes to grains stored in #10 cans.
That’s where you would be wrong. There are many food storage companies who were only too happy to branch out. Thrive Life, as an example, has on offer a variety of non-wheat grains, including quinoa, millet, and amaranth. Quinoa is quite popular right now, due to its high protein content, but not many people know much about millet or amaranth. I, myself, had heard very little about amaranth (isn’t it some kind of flower?) until I saw some on the Thrive Life website and decided to try it out. It’s also available on Amazon.
THRIVE LIFE TIP: Thrive Life is a top-notch food storage company and one of Survival Mom’s favorites. If you place an order, be sure to place it on the Thrive Life website of a consultant. The company has different prices, according to where their products are purchased, and those on the sites of consultants are always lowest. If you’re not ordering through any other Thrive Life consultant, here’s the link to Lisa Bedford’s page.
What is Amaranth, Anyway?
Amaranth has a fairly interesting history. It’s indigenous to Mesoamerica, and was extensively used by the Aztecs prior to the Spanish Conquest. Even though it was widely grown and eaten, amaranth production fell to practically nothing when the Conquistadors outlawed is cultivation. Amaranth plants can be either very tall or very short, depending on the variety, with full, bushy leaves and feathery flowers that form seed heads. The flower love-lies-bleeding is actually a variety of amaranth, albeit not one that was developed for its seeds. The grains are extremely tiny, about the size of poppy seeds.
What Can You Do With it?
Amaranth may not enjoy the lofty status occupied by wheat, but there are plenty of ways it can be eaten. The grain can be popped like popcorn (for instructions click here or here), or made into a hearty porridge by cooking it similar to oatmeal. Popped amaranth can be used as an add-in to homemade granola or as a crunchy topping for salads. The leaves can also be cooked and eaten like spinach or kale.
In India and Sri Lanka, amaranth greens are added to stir-fry dishes and curries. I particularly enjoy amaranth in soups and stews, where it gives the meal a nutty, earthy flavor. Just add 1/8 – 1/4 cup to any soup recipe. It can be stored just like any other grain such as wheat, corn, or rice, and should last several decades if kept in an airtight container at cooleer temperatures. According to the Whole Grain Council, amaranth has a slightly shorter shelf life than other grains when kept in an open container in your pantry – just four months compared to six months for wheat.
Amaranth is high in protein and is a good source of calcium, iron, and magnesium. It must be cooked, whether by popping or by another method, before being eaten, or else the nutrients will not be available to your body.
If you enjoy hot cereals, but feel bored with plain old oatmeal or cracked wheat, try some amaranth for a change. The texture is similar to cream of wheat, but with a nuttier taste.
Amaranth Hot Cereal
- 1 cup amaranth
- 2 cup water
- pinch salt
- brown sugar, maple syrup, fruit, or other add-ins to taste
Combine amaranth and water with salt in a medium-sized saucepan and cook over medium heat. The amaranth will float on top of the water at first. Bring to a boil, and then turn down the heat and let simmer for approximately 20 minutes. When it is fully cooked through, the amaranth will become translucent and will have absorbed most of the water. Remove from heat, add flavorings of your choice. Serve with milk.
You can even grow amaranth in your backyard if you so desire. Baker Creek Seeds carries multiple varieties of amaranth. It is easy to grow, and enjoyable, too. Bright and colorful foliage makes it a good choice for edible landscaping. Most commercial amaranth has tan seeds, but some cultivars have red or black seeds. Imagine how cool it would be to serve red amaranth cereal for breakfast that you have grown and harvested yourself!
I hope you’re inspired to give amaranth a try. Let us know how you liked it in the comments.
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17 thoughts on “Storing and Using Amaranth: A Tutorial”
Pretty cool. Thanks for sharing. I’ve never heard of it before. Gonna try it.
Oh thanks for thinking about people with Coeliac disease, I’m actually considering planting this on our homestead.
It’s on my list to plant next year, but I have to get through this year first. I’m at my wits end. For the first time ever, the squirrels have taken over my garden. They have already eaten almost half of my first planting of corn. The first planting is over half of the corn I’ve planted. Does anyone have anything they’ve done to get rid of them? I’ve researched it, but I want something that will really work. I’ve put up a scarecrow, sprinkled coffee around the corn, and moved the dog near the garden. I also saw tracks for one deer and a raccoon or two. It’s frustrating to work so hard on my garden only to have the critters destroy it in a day or two.
Our cats get rid of squirrels
Beth, Very interesting article. One question: where do you get it from, either seed or grain?
Beth, never mind, I skipped over the information, sorry.
You can grind up Amaranth and make a nice flour too. We use it for thickening stews and making a nice roux (cream sauce base). Even the devoted gluten fans in our family think it works very well there.
In the past you could get amaranth flour pretty easily but it seems to be a little harder to find in our area now. So you may have to buy the grain and grind your own in some areas.
we’ve been exploring gluten free grains for a while now — and enjoy amaranth porridge whether it’s sweet — (with honey, bit of cream & cinnamon or fruit) or savory (cooked with chicken boullion with a bit of green veggies stirred in)
haven’t tried grinding it for use as flour though — this may be just what we need to help convert some of our old favorite recipes. Thanks, Beth.
Do you have to pop it to eat it? I have a quinoa/amaranth/millet mix that I’d like to add to a granola bar recipe but would be hard to separate the mix to pop the amaranth!
We’ve only ever made popped amaranth when we wanted to eat it as a crispy snack. You’ll need to cook the amaranth before adding it to your recipe. Would you normally cook the grain mix before adding it?
Bob’s Red Mill sells Organic Amaranth; Millet,And Quinoa. Plus flours made from them. I own their mail order catalog. It is very interesting you should check it out.
THE BEST SQUIRREL CONTROL IS A WELL AIMED 22 CALIBER RIFLE. AS A BONUS SQIRRELS ARE QUITE TASTY TOO. IF YOU LIVE IN AN URBAN AREA WHERE FIREARM FIRING CAN BE AN ISSUE THEN YOU CAN USE A HIGHER POWER PELLET RIFLE, NOT QUITE AS EFFECTIVE AS A REGULAR GUN BUT QUIET AND WITH SOME TARGET PRACTICE QUITE EFFECTIVE AS WELL. YSE EITHER A 22 OR A 177 CALIBER PELLET WITH A LEAST 1000 fps
Wondering if I can freeze the Amaranth seed now that I have it. I find seed that is not frozen (even if briefly) will often be eaten my the tiniest bugs !!!
Yes, for longer term storage, dry foods like amaranth can be frozen to kill microscopic insect eggs. Use an airtight container like a canning jar, leave in your freezer for at least a week.
Any information about storing amaranth? I got a bunch and left it in the car for a day or so, and it was hot. My wife wants to put it in the freezer.
Putting it in the freezer isn’t going to reverse any effects of the heat, so don’t bother. Just keep the amaranth stored in a cool and dark location and make sure the container doesn’t contain any moisture.