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is amaranth edible

Be aware, though, that if the original plants were hybrids, the volunteer seedlings may not "come true" and may look different than the parent plant. There are some 60 amaranth species, maybe 70 (it depends on who’s counting.) Sorting out some amaranths Amaranthus hybridus, aka Smooth Amaranth, stems can be red or green Smooth Amaranth red leaf hairy, green can be hairless. Varieties of amaranth can range from giants topping 8 feet to smaller 1- to 2-foot plants better suited for leaf harvest only. The Spruce uses cookies to provide you with a great user experience. See the USDA's amaranth leaves nutrition table for details. The greens are similar to spinach, beet greens, and chard — they're all in the same family, Amaranthaceae — but amaranth has more than twice as much vitamin C as kale and four times more than spinach. I have it growing all over my garden and I've just been pulling it out and throwing it in my compost pile but I think I'll start harvesting it to eat. Unlike other leafy green vegetables, amaranth is fairly happy in the heat. Many parts of the plants, including the leaves and seeds, are edible, and are frequently used as a source of food in India and South America – where it is the most important Andean species of Amaranthus, known as kiwicha. "Pigweed" is a common name for a few different plants, including lambsquarters, but the particular pigweed I'm writing about is the one whose genus is Amaranthus, also known as "amaranth.". First, remember that amaranth produces edible leaves, similar in taste to spinach. It makes a great salad ingredient after spring greens have been harvested or are bolting. Amaranths don't require any feeding. Then sift the seeds through a strainer to remove the coarser chaff. I frequently see it on the edges of fields and parks. Small leaves are more tender, but the larger leaves also have a full flavor. Growing Amaranth in Containers. Native Americans used Amaranthus species as a food source for centuries. The bulk seed is uses as a "grain" in porridges or added as a thickener to soups and stews. Amaranth seed has more protein and fewer carbohydrates than both buckwheat and white rice, and its protein is supposedly more complete. One part seeds to two parts water is a happy medium. In fact, excessive nitrogen will cause the plants to become leggy and less suitable for harvesting. Pigweed is one of the common names given to a clutch of Amaranth species that crash parties where they are not wanted. For one, any plant that survives the onslaught of toxic petro-pesticides will most likely harbor the toxic constituents of the pesticide and pass them on to whomever eats the plant. The stems are usually smooth or slightly hairy except for spiny pigweed (Amaranthus spinosus), which has thorns — I first discovered this when unsuspectingly weeding my garden with bare hands. Nearly all amaranths are edible, including love-lies-bleeding and even the common road-side weedy forms. According to this study, amaranth seed's protein  is similar to animal protein. Like quinoa, amaranth is often referred to as an ancient grain because of its storied history behind the plant’s edible seeds, which loom large in Aztec lore. Like these weeds it readily grows in cultivated soil and will self-sow easily if allowed to go to seed. Very rich soils are not necessary for amaranth, and may even hinder flowering and seed production. First cut off the entire flower head and put in a paper or fine mesh bag, and then let them dry for a week or two in a well-ventilated, shady area, like open-air barn. In many parts of the world, in South America especially, Amaranth is deemed a traditional garden vegetable crop. Rinse away the dried seed “chaff” and enjoy your grain harvest. At the same time, they need enough space to provide good air circulation. I'm partial to its cousin, lambsquarters, but amaranth leaves are definitely worth foraging. The entire plant is used to make medicine. Cooked amaranth seeds are sort of nutty. Flowering amaranth plants can still have their leaves harvested to eat, but you may find that the flavor changes after the amaranth plant flowers. Amaranth greens nutrition facts. Amaranth is enjoyed by birds, insects, and also makes a great cut flower. Cultivated in Mexico thousands of years ago, both the leaves and seeds of amaranth are edible. All amaranth foliage, which ranges from green to yellow, orange and red, like Hopi red dye amaranth (Amaranthus cruentus x A. powelli), is edible. Historically, the use of amaranth as an ornamental plant is a relatively recent development. If consumption is the goal, choose annual amaranth varieties marketed as edibles. Picked young enough, amaranth leaves do make a good, mildly flavored steamed green, reminiscent of steamed spinach, and the flavor varies from species to species, some more bitter than others. I love "weeds" that can go straight into the harvest basket with the rest of the food crops! Amaranth is an ancient grain that is loaded with healthy nutrients. Once the flowers have developed, let the amaranth flowers grow fully and watch carefully for the first few flowers to start dying back or browning a … If you are planting amaranth in containers, make sure your container is at least 10” deep. Avoid using commercial pesticides with a "wait to pick" or any other type of warning regarding consumption. Or, you can cut the whole plant down off at ground level when it is 1 to 2 feet tall. Amaranth seed or grain is also edible when toasted or milled into flour. The Amaranthus genus is a complicated one, featuring at least 75 annual and perennial species that easily cross-breed and hybridize. But those sold as edible varieties are selected for their good seed production and especially tasty leaves. Pigweed has a mild flavour and is often mixed with stronger flavoured leaves. See the USDA's amaranth seed nutrition table for a full list of nutrients. Note that some species of amaranth leaves, particularly purple amaranth, are … For more of a soupy porridge-type texture, use one part seeds to three parts water. The differences are more or less cultural preferences, as all types are edible and highly nutritious. However, a notable … Germination generally takes 7 to 14 days. Flowers vary interspecifically from the presence of 3 or 5 tepals and stamens, whereas a 7-porate pollen grain structure remains consistent across the family. When harvesting the leaves, make sure to leave the crown and some leaves around the top to continue growing. What Parts Of The Amaranth Plant Are Edible? To harvest grains, let the plant go all the way to flower. Edible Parts. there may be one or two species you read about that are endangered, but they sure as hell aren't the edible ones being mentioned here. Spiny amaranth has edible leaves and might be a medicine and sex aid. It's also possible to collect some of the seeds in fall and replant them the following spring. You can pick them as microgreens as soon as they sport two sets of true leaves, or you can wait and harvest baby leaves for fresh salads. I have a friend who prefers amaranth over lambsquarters for flavor, though. Amaranth can fall prey to many of the same pests and diseases that affect other vegetables. Barbara Gillette is a Master Gardener, Herbalist, beekeeper, and journalist with decades of experience propagating and growing fruits, vegetables, herbs, and ornamentals. Edible Parts. In reply to I’m gathering amaranth to by Anne. The seeds are extremely nutritious and protein-packed with a slightly nutty flavor. Store in clean jars or use right away. The leaves are used as a typical green would be. edible amaranth is also known as pigweed. This helps to keep Wild Edible online. Maybe it's more of an acquired taste. Amaranth is a hardy plant that thrives in tropical climates around the world. Presently, its growth is mainly concentrated in tropical climates of Latin Americas, Asia and Africa. Even though the leaves of all 60 varieties are edible, some do boast prickly spines that have to be removed before preparing as a food. You can harvest both leaves and grain from any amaranth, but if your goal is an edible plant, choose a variety based on your goals. Not only are its leaves delectable, its seeds are also edible and nutritious as well. Ancient it is, though. Tocotrienols are a form of vitamin E that may reduce cholesterol as well as your risk of heart disease, according to a study published in the 2014 addition of the journal Nutrition & Metabolism. It even has medicinal qualities. Large size and heat won’t turn amaranth leaves bitter, as often occurs with other leafy greens. Many species are native to the southern U.S. and Mexico, so you can expect it to thrive even when late spring and summer is unusually warm. The seed can only be eaten when it's cooked, as it inhibits nutrient absorption when consumed raw. This works better if you have mesh bags. Palmer's amaranth is native to the southwest U.S. and Mexico, but it has aggressively expanded its range, becoming invasive in many parts of the world. Depending on variety, this may take several rinsings due to the amount of chaff. If you want to harvest the plants for seeds, it will take about 12 weeks for the plants to reach full maturity. In spite of some wild rumors, all amaranth can be eaten — even glyphosate-resistant Palmer pigweed — with a couple of caveats. If you find lambsquarters, you're likely to find amaranth growing nearby, as they're similar plants and do well in similar conditions. Amaranth leaves are a good source of potassium. In other words, it’s the ideal plant for edible landscaping. You can also use the leaves of amaranth as a leafy vegetable; the taste is similar to spinach and they can be used in the same way as many of the leafy vegetables, especially in mixed-green salads. When the seeds are dry and ready to separate, either thresh by rubbing the flower heads in your hands over a container, or by gently beating the bags of flower heads with a stick. Amaranth is a plant that falls into one of four categories: grain, vegetable, ornamental or weed. It is a traditional food of Native Americans including the … Amaranth also has a propensity to accumulate nitrates and oxalates, which can make it unpalatable and unsafe for eating, especially when it grows in soil that's been over-exposed to nitrates from commercial fertilizer. Redroot Amaranth grows as an erect, annual herb reaching a height of 9 feet. There are around 60 species of amaranth — all have varying degrees of good-to-eatness. Or you can use a room or closet with a dehumidifier running. The flowers eventually dry out and yield tiny husked seeds which may then be harvested. Or rather, the pigweeds (there are different kinds) are amaranth species. Only dense clay soils are likely to be completely unsuitable for amaranth. Pigweed plants can grow to over six feet high with alternating oval to diamond-shaped leaves that may be up to six inches long. You can consume them raw, stir-fried, or sauteed. Affiliate Disclaimer: In some cases, we use affiliate links, which means we get a small (tiny) commission if you make a purchase after clicking a link. In fact, once-upon-a-time, this was the primary reason amaranth served as a staple in home cottage gardens. Amaranth Recipe Ideas. The seeds are ready to harvest when they start falling off of the plant, usually towards middle to late summer. To ensure continued production, it's a good idea to stagger planting every two to three weeks, beginning a week or two after the last frost date in your region. The seeds are a grain that can be eaten. Although amaranth leaves are edible and a good nutrition source in their own right, many people harvest the small seeds which grow on the plants (up to 60,000 per plant) and eat them either whole or ground into flour. Amaranth plant grows wildly hence the natural tendencies to write it off as a weed. You’ll want to cultivate larger plants specifically grown for their seeds if you want the amaranth grain. Great article! Having ample potassium in the body helps move oxygen to the brain which stimulates n… Since amaranth is such a weedy, farmer-plaguing plant, be careful harvesting in areas that may have been sprayed with toxic chemicals — or that may have absorbed high levels of nitrates from fertilizer. How does it taste? So you can get away with growing them 10 to 18 inches apart. Cook young tender pigweed leaves as you would spinach; steam or sauté/stir-fry in butter or oil. For one, any plant that survives the onslaught of toxic petro-pesticides will most likely harbor the toxic constituents of the pesticide and pass them on to whomever eats the plant.Amaranth also has a propensity to accumulate nitrates and oxalates, which can make it unpalatable and unsafe for eatin… Both the leaves and stems are edible. The local amaranth seems to be a variety called “water hemp,” growing in wet areas. Sushila Chaudhari , MSU Department of Horticulture’s new edible specialty crops weed scientist, will be investigating the distribution of this weed species in Michigan as well as the biology and control options available. This plant was widely used for food by Native Americans of the Southwest. Thanks for your support! Regardless of your cultivar, amaranth leaves can be harvested at any point. Species across the genus contain concentric rings of vascular bundles, and fix carbon efficiently with a C4 photosynthetic pathway. Root rot can be a problem in wet, dense soil or in periods where rainfalls are frequent and copious. This amaranth has nutritious, flavorful foliage with a hearty spinach flavor that is sweet and slightly tangy. Before they all turn brown, cut the flowers off and place them in bags, where they will dry. Amaranthus palmeri, Palmer […] Amaranths are usually planted from seeds as soon as the last frost has passed in the spring. The tiny flowers of amaranth grow by the hundreds along the stem and are easily recognized in fields where they emerge above crops like cotton. Amaranth is a wonderfully versatile plant that’s a beautiful flower, a delicious vegetable, and a nutritious grain all in one. Every part of the amaranth plant is edible: roots, seeds, stem, leaves, and flowers. amaranth is an entire group of plants. As they sprout, thin the plants out to a spacing of 10 to 18 inches. Some varieties are marketed as best for seed production, while others are bred for attractive, tasty leaves that work well in salads. Amaranth leaves and grains were one of the staple foods of Aztecs and Incas in pre-Columbian times. Amaranth's/pigweed's favorite stomping grounds are disturbed areas like fields, yards, and the edges of woods. While amaranth plants are tall, they aren’t necessarily wide or bushy. In a plethora of spots on the map, Amaranth is viewed as a traditional garden crop – especially in South America. Amaranth is a herbaceous plant or shrub that is either annual or perennial across the genus. The closer you can get them, the better they look once fully grown. It’s possible that it will resprout for another harvest, though you do risk introducing pests to the open stem. North America is home to both native and introduced species of pigweed -- at least one species can be found throughout the entire continent. When planting outdoors, sow seeds about 4 inches apart, barely covering them with soil. Introducing "One Thing": A New Video Series, The Spruce Gardening & Plant Care Review Board, The Spruce Renovations and Repair Review Board, 2 to 7 feet (depends on species and variety). Of course the wickedly thorny variety is what usually volunteers in my beds. Like buckwheat, amaranth is considered a "pseudo-cereal," which basically means it's not in the grass family like wheat and corn — it seems like a subtle difference to me but apparently pseudo-cereal seeds are not the same as "true" grains. Amaranth loves the heat and is drought tolerant once established. Photo by Ben Werling, MSU Extension. (Apparently, the weedy types are also edible and taste much like the cultivated kinds. Amaranth does best in full sun in the northern part of its range, but in warm southern climates, it benefits from some shade in the afternoon. Once root rot occurs, the plant must be removed. Aztec ritual. Inflorescences of Powell amaranth (left) and purple amaranth (right). Harvesting Edible Amaranth . Keep an eye on the flowers as they bloom and then begin to die back. Amaranth grains are especially good in a porridge that also contains other grains, such as millet and quinoa. Amaranth plants have average needs for water (no more than 1 inch per week). Smooth Amaranth flowers are short, petiole one half the lenght of the leaf to as long as the leaf. Today, flour and grain products are available on grocery shelves in the U.S. with recipes of all kinds on the internet. Young leaves can be eaten raw or cooked like spinach, sautéed, etc. Amazon and the Amazon logo are trademarks of, Inc. or its affiliates. Amaranth is a broad-leafed, edible plant that some say may hold the answer to improving diet in the world's most obese country—Mexico. If you are eager for early harvest, you can start the seeds indoors as much as eight weeks earlier. The younger the leaves and stems the better. Gomphrena globosa, commonly known as globe amaranth, makhmali, and vadamalli, is an edible plant from the family Amaranthaceae.The round-shaped flower inflorescences are a visually dominant feature and cultivars have been propagated to exhibit shades of magenta, purple, red, orange, white, pink, and lilac. Make sure the site you choose has good drainage and air circulation. I’m interested in knowing how to feed ourselves and our chickens in case of disaster. The edible leaves are known as Chinese spinach. Maybe. Looks like its Latin name is Amaranthus tuberculatus. Pigweed (Amaranthus retroflexus), is a close relative of amaranth and considered a weed but can be used in much the same way as amaranth. Good to know by Jonathan. Amaranth grows well in average soils and will grow adequately in poor soils. Today, most gardeners are familiar with Amaranthus species such as A. caudatus (love-lies-bleeding) as ornamental plants, and many don't even realize that amaranths are also edible plants that can be grown for the grain-like seeds and edible leaves. copyright © 2010-2020 Wild Edible, all rights reserved | Privacy Policy | Terms & Conditions. A proper history of amaranth would fill an entire book (or several). Amaranth isn't fussy about soil types. In reply to Great article! it will grow even for people who don't want it. With their plentiful seeds, amaranth plants will readily self-seed in the garden. One of the amaranth seed's most attractive traits, in an era of anti-wheat, is simply the fact that amaranth is gluten-free. The seed, oil, and leaf are used as food. Ancient super-food? Within the flowerheads, the true flowers are small and inconspicuous. key word weed. The weedy amaranth types are also edible and taste much like the cultivated varieties. The study also found that tocotrienols may be protective against cancer and have anti-inflammatory qualities. You often hear amaranth called an ancient grain because it was once grown and harvested by Aztec and Inca civilizations. Many Asian and African dishes make use of amaranth greens. The flower spikes are probably the plant's most identifiable trait. To cook, add to boiling water and simmer uncovered for 25 to 30 minutes. Amaranthus caudatus known by common names as love-lies-bleeding, pendant amaranth, tassel flower, velvet flower, foxtail amaranth, and quilete.. Various wild species of amaranth are saddled with the label pigweed, particularly in North America, and several of those now feature on the list of the world’s weeds that have developed a resistance to glyphosate. Awesome, I'm glad it was helpful! It's also high in vitamin A and calcium, as well as a host of other healthful vitamins and minerals. Thanks, Jonathan! In spite of some wild rumors, all amaranth can be eaten — even glyphosate-resistant Palmer pigweed — with a couple of caveats. Learn tips for creating your most beautiful (and bountiful) garden ever. Amaranth is related to a common weed you probably know, pigweed. [tweet_quote] Amaranth is a vibrantly colored plant, and both its seeds and leaves are edible. Steam, stir-fry, saute, or mix with spaghetti sauce, rice, or meatloaf. To collect seeds to make flour simply lay the seed heads on a cloth and dry them in the sun for a couple of days. And unlike a lot of gluten-free wheat alternatives, it's really good for you. Fresh or dried pigweed leaves can be used to make tea. I’m gathering amaranth to collect seed to feed my chickens. Good to know pigweed is so nutritious! Palmer amaranth, aka Palmer pigweed (Amaranthus Palmeri), one of the better known species, has a reputation for being an invasive weed that plagues cotton and soybean fields in the South. Pigweed seeds should never be eaten raw. If starting indoors, use a general seed-starting mix and make sure to harden off the seedlings before transplanting outdoors. As they sprout in spring, the volunteers can be thinned out to about 10 to 18 inches apart, or carefully dug up and transplanted elsewhere. Smooth Amaranth flower Smooth Amaranth, green form. Amaranth greens are nutritious, edible leafy vegetables of Central American origin. These are very easy-to-grow plants, as befits a genus with many species that grow as roadside native plants. By using The Spruce, you accept our, 15 Red-Flowering Plants to Consider for Your Garden, 10 Tall Annual Flowers that Make a Strong Impact, Amaranth Adds Drama to the Sunny Flower Garden. Oil made from Amaranth plants can be used in food preparation, body lotions, soap, and related products. I'd never heard of it but I just googled it. The botanical genus name, Amaranthus , (am-a-RANTH-us) comes from the Greek word “amarandos, (Αμάραντος) which means non-fading, since its flowers last a long time. Saag, the Indian moniker for green leafy vegetables, forms an integral part of various regional cuisines in the country.Loaded with vitamins and essential minerals, it is the best way of fueling up on the season’s best offerings. Overview Information Amaranth is a plant. Some varieties are marketed as best for seed production, while others are bred for attractive, tasty leaves that work well in salads. Average outdoor temps need to reach about 55 degrees Fahrenheit before planting the seedlings outdoors. It seems to tolerate most soil types but it really thrives in the rich soil of a well-amended garden. Harvesting Amaranth Plants. Read on to find out how to harvest amaranth and other information about harvesting amaranth grains. Amaranth has another edible advantage: the leaves can be harvested as a vegetable. For those with celiac disease, milled amaranth is a gluten-free flour substitute. Andrey Zharkikh / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY 2.0. For greens, pick amaranth leaves from young plants avoiding larger leaves — smaller to medium-sized leaves are more tender and more nutrient-rich than their bigger counterparts. For the casual forager, though, amaranth leaves are more accessible and require little processing effort compared with the seed. In terms of nutrition, "amaranth" is usually synonymous with "amaranth seed," so most of the published nutrition information refers to the seed, or amaranth flour. The greenish stems tend to turn red as they mature, and although most species of pigweed grow upright, prostrate pigweed (Amaranthus blitoides and Amaranthus blitoides) grows along the ground. The seed is very small but easy to harvest and very nutritious. ... Grains are the edible seeds of plants called cereals. One to one makes a really firm consistency. As greens go, most folks consider amaranth better than acceptable but probably not what you would call "top shelf". Don't overwater, or you run the risk of root rot or fungal diseases. Not really. Many of these types of pesticides are broad spectrum designed to eliminate multiple insect pests and may contain ingredients that aren't meant to be ingested by humans. Amaranth grows well in any average well-drained soil, but it will struggle in dense clay soils. We only link books and other products that we think would be useful to our readers. You can harvest both leaves and grain from any amaranth, but if your goal is an edible plant, choose a variety based on your goals. Before that, it was foraged wild. Far from it, the amaranth is a nutritious plant with many health benefits. Aphids and flea beetles are common; insecticidal soaps are a good remedy for the former, and floating row covers will protect the plants from the latter. But, in technical terms, amaranth seeds aren't really grain. Amaranths produce enormous quantities of tiny seeds that will rampantly self-seed around the parent plant if you don't carefully harvest the seed heads when they mature. Like so many fresh Asian greens, amaranth greens need no embellishment aside from a few cloves of crushed garlic. pseudo-cereal seeds are not the same as "true" grains. Amaranth shares a family with the common (and edible) weeds; lambsquarters and pigweed. Angela England is the author of "Backyard Farming on an Acre (More or Less)," and edits the online publication Blissfully Domestic. Leaves can be harvested within a few weeks of outdoor planting. Helpful article! Shake the bag once they are dry, or knock the seeds loose over a cloth. It was a main staple of the Aztecs and was cultivated by them as long as 8,000 years ago. Edible amaranth is often grown for the plentiful tiny seeds that hang in tassels from the top of the plant after the attractive red flowers fade. Including Amaranthus retroflexus (red root pigweed), A. spinosus (spiny pigweed), A. palmeri (Palmer’s pigweed), and A. hybridus (rough pigweed), these uninvited agricultural and garden guests are so ubiquitous that they seldom invite closer scrutiny from farmers … Here is a detailed look at amaranth and its health benefits. The flavor is sometimes described as earthy or grassy. The seeds, like that of quinoa, are high in protein and taste similar to true grains grown from grass seeds.

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