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.