Amaranth is one of the newest superfoods on the block. Well, not entirely new as it has been around for thousands of years, but new in the sense that it has only gained popularity fairly recently. One of the main draws for amaranth is that it is naturally gluten-free. With the increasing cases of gluten intolerance and sensitivity in the United States, many more people are turning to amaranth as their grain of choice. Amaranth has a nutty and earthy flavor that is almost like a cross between whole wheat and brown rice.
- Kingdom: Plantae
- Order: Caryophyllales
- Family: Amaranthaceae
- Genus: Amaranthus
- Species: Varies
- Binomial name: Varies
- Amaranth Grain is the only grain that is found to have Vitamin C.
- Amaranth Dye has been banned in the United States while amaranth grain can be found in many gourmet and health food items.
- Amaranth is a pseudo-grain, it’s not a grain but it’s treated as one.
- Amaranth was called “Food of Immortality” by the Aztecs.
Amaranth Buying Guide
Due to its growing popularity as a superfood, you’ll never run out choices when you’re looking for Amaranth grain either in your local supermarket, health food store, or farmers’ market. With this popularity comes also the mass production of the grain which comes with it the use of pesticides and other chemicals.
Look for the USDA certified organic seal on amaranth grain that you plan to purchase or purchase directly from small growers at their homesteads and at local farmers’ markets.
Amaranth Production & Farming in Texas
There are 20 different species of wild amaranth in Texas, it is a very popular wild grain that is harvested by many homesteads. It is not uncommon to find wild amaranth grains being sold in many farmers’ markets. Amaranth is also quite easy to grow and many small producers will usually have amaranth plants and grains for sale. Aside from that, there is also an increase in demand for amaranth microgreens which in turn has increased local production of the seed.
For commercial production, Texas is home to one of the largest Amaranth buyers in the country. This makes amaranth farming a very attractive crop for many small to large farms due to the reduced costs of trucking the grains to the buyer.
Pesticides, Additives, and Chemicals:
While many studies have shown that pesticides and other toxic chemicals are very seldomly detected on commercial amaranth grains, it is worth noting though that large-scale amaranth grain farming uses chemicals and pesticides that are hazardous to those farming them. Twenty of the chemicals used in commercial amaranth production are linked to chronic health problems and the same number is linked to being poisonous to wildlife.
The Amaranth plant in itself is pretty hardy and requires virtually no pesticides and chemicals when grown on a small scale.
So even if large-scale commercial amaranth products are safe for us, the end consumer, it may not be totally safe for those who farm them and the environment in which it was farmed.
Amaranth comes in many shapes and sizes when it comes to packaging. They can come in resealable PPE bags, resealable kraft paper bags, and even in burlap bags. As a grain, Amaranth is quite hardy so most of the packaging is more for cosmetics than for actual functionality.
Amaranth is a very versatile grain and can be used in many different ways.
Amaranth as a grain:
- Amaranth can be used as a substitute for rice in many dishes or as a grain replacement for a complete diet.
- Amaranth can be made into a sweet porridge much like oatmeal for breakfast (or for those really cold stormy days)
- Instead of expensive arborio rice, amaranth can be used to make risotto.
- Amaranth can also be ground up and made into a flour to be used to make rolls.
Amaranth as a snack:
- Try making some amaranth pudding!
- Amaranth flour can be used to make cookies, cupcakes, and muffins.
- You can also make amaranth “popcorn” by roasting the seeds.
Amaranth for main dishes:
- Amaranth can also be added to batter for making extra crispy fried dishes.
These are just some of the uses of this very versatile grain and if you would like to learn more, make sure to subscribe to our Texas Mom Blog where we use amaranth in a few dishes every now and then.
Amaranth, when properly stored, can last for up to a year. Store amaranth grains an airtight container. Store the grains in a cool place and away from sources of heat and light as these may affect the quality of the grain.
If the aroma of the amaranth becomes bitter, this is a sure sign that the grain has gone bad.
How to Make Amaranth “Popcorn”:
This is one of our favorite snacks at home and just as tasty as traditional popcorn! It takes a couple of tries to perfect it but once you get the hang of it, it’s as easy as 1-2-3. Oh, and it doesn’t need oil!
Amaranth Seeds, ½ cup
Preheat a deep pot (a heavy-bottomed one works best).
Spread a tablespoon of amaranth seeds as evenly as you can. They should pop immediately. If they don’t pop immediately then the pot isn’t hot enough. Dump the amaranth and try again.
Once the popping starts, shake the pot to prevent the amaranth from burning.
When the popping stops, transfer the popped amaranth to a sieve or a strainer with amaranth-sized holes to separate the unpopped grains.
Repeat until all of the grains are popped.
- Every cup of Amaranth contains 46g of carbohydrates. Most of it is starch, but it also has some fiber content in it that helps regulate bowel movement and may help in easing the symptoms of constipation.
- Amaranth is not a major source of fiber, but it does have more fiber than brown rice.
- Vitamins and minerals:
- Amaranth is an excellent source of manganese, iron, magnesium, and phosphorus. It is also a good source of copper, selenium, folate, vitamin B6.
- Amaranth has decent amounts of protein which helps build muscle mass.