7 tips to grow­ing a gluten-free flour

It’s your last chance to plant amaranth for seeds, and grow a low-main­te­nance, pro­tein-rich food.

NZ Lifestyle Block - - Growing - Jane Wrig­glesworth is a gar­den­ing writer, blog­ger, and pub­lisher of the dig­i­tal mag­a­zine, Sweet Liv­ing. www.sweet­liv­ing­magazine.co.nz www.flam­ing­petal.co.nz

AMARANTH is not a true grain (which only come from grasses). It’s a pseudo-ce­real, used like quinoa and buck­wheat, and is gluten-free.

The seeds are rich in pro­tein, sol­u­ble and in­sol­u­ble di­etary fi­bre, and es­sen­tial fatty acids. They’re a great source of vi­ta­mins B1, B2, B3, B9 (fo­late) and E, cal­cium, potas­sium, phos­pho­rus, iron, mag­ne­sium, se­le­nium and zinc.

They also con­tain the amino acid ly­sine, which is low, or miss­ing, from true grains.

Amaranth seeds can be cooked like rice or por­ridge, popped like pop­corn, ex­pand­ing to about 10 times their orig­i­nal vol­ume, or ground into flour. The puffed seed can be used as a ce­real, in sal­ads in place of crou­tons, or baked.

If you boil, then cool the seed, it turns into a gelati­nous mix which can be used to make jam-like spreads, with­out the need for pectin and sugar. • Amaranth is na­tive to the warmer parts of Amer­ica and is heat-tol­er­ant. • Plant at the same time as corn and cucurbits, when the soil has warmed in spring. • It is mainly wind-pol­li­nated, so plant in blocks to en­cour­age cross-pol­li­na­tion. • Although drought-tol­er­ant, plants grow bet­ter when wa­tered dur­ing dry pe­ri­ods. • Ap­ply a gen­eral pur­pose fer­tiliser once or twice a sea­son. • Flow­ers ap­pear around mid-sum­mer and con­tinue un­til the first frosts. Seeds be­gin to ripen about three months af­ter flow­er­ing.

Once the flower has dried, you can shake the seeds out. Hold the seed head over a bucket and rub it between your hands. Tip the seeds into a shal­low con­tainer and po­si­tion in front of a fan • to blow away the chaff.

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