06 October 2008

Buckwheat is beautiful...

I came across an interesting tidbit of information when I was surfing the net while looking for polenta recipes. I discovered that polenta was not originally made from corn. No. Up until about 150 years ago, it was made from Buckwheat. Apparently buckwheat is way more nutritious than corn, easier to grow, and easier to digest. But it won't grow in a high nitrogen soil. Corn and wheat grow insanely well with high nitrogen fertilizers. So when farmers figured they could grow more corn or wheat per acre with fertilizers, they quickly put buckwheat on the back burner. There's quite a bit of history attached to the whole transition from buckwheat to corn...but if you're interested in that, you can just do a search on the net for more info.

I was amazed to learn that it was buckwheat porridge, or polenta, that fed the ancient Roman soldiers, and millions more people over the last few thousand years. How cool is that!

Until recently, I really didn't know what buckwheat was. I can't eat any kind of wheat, so I guess the word 'wheat' in the name is what turned me off. But I learned recently that buckwheat isn't a wheat at all (so why the heck don't they change the name???) It is actually considered a fruit! Well, it is the seed from the buckwheat plant and the plant is related to the rhubarb plant.

Anyways...buckwheat is nutritious, simple and fast to make and it tastes terrific!

Here's what it looks like when you buy it dried and whole. They call these groats. You can get them raw or roasted. Roasting them intensifies the flavour. I like mine unroasted. Notice how they are like little tiny pyramids. I included a pen here just to show the relative size.

And here they are, just 10 minutes later, all cooked and soft and ready to be eaten.

You cook them just like rice. I usually rinse the groats and drain off the water. Then I boil water in my tea kettle. Then I add about the same amount of water to the buckwheat in a pot. Put the pot on the stove and let it boil for about 2 minutes. Then turn off the heat. Add a pinch of salt. Put on a tight fitting lid. And leave it there for 10-15 minutes. Then just fluff with a fork. It comes out all soft and delicious. Ready to be used like rice. Or...instead of cooking in water, you can cook it in hot milk. When it is done, add brown sugar and a bit of butter plus some cinnamon, raisins and a handful of nuts, and you've got a quick, nutritious and delicious hot breakfast cereal.

Yum. Yum. Yum.

1 comment:

mamawhatthe said...

I had no idea- all these tidbits about buckwheat! Thanks for sharing this. As a kid, I was turned off by buckwheat pancakes. But you have inspired me to give buckwheat another try.