buckwheat

Buckwheat is the seed of a flowering plant (fagopyrum esculentrum) related to rhubarb. Buckwheat is a type of groat and is triangular in shape. The seeds are easily mistaken for a grain, particularly since they are cooked and served like grains. In reality, buckwheat is not related to wheat at all (the name can be deceiving) and is actually a great alternative to wheat for those seeking gluten-free foods. Buckwheat was primarily grown in Europe and Asia in the past but is now also cultivated in the U.S. It’s a fast-growing plant that does well even in poor soil conditions, and does not require pesticides.

Triangular seeds or kernels of buckwheat that include the outer shell are called raw buckwheat groats or unhulled groats. Buckwheat groats are often ground into flour or used for sprouting. Hulled groats have the outer shell removed and can be cooked as a grain. Roasting hulled groats will give the buckwheat an intense, nutty flavor. Hulled groats can also be ground for flour. Unhulled buckwheat flour has a stronger taste than hulled, is darker in color, and has a higher amount of dietary fiber. Since buckwheat flour is gluten-free, it lacks a binding agent, and is often mixed with other flours such as wheat, chickpea, or quinoa flours in baked goods. You can make cookies, crackers, pancakes, noodles, and more with buckwheat flour.

Roasted buckwheat groats are called kasha. This is the main ingredient in the traditional dishes of various countries, and is very popular in Central and Eastern Europe. You can add kasha to yogurt, salads, and oatmeal for an extra nutty crunch. In Russia it is common to make hot cereal with kasha and milk. For a nutritious breakfast, try making kasha cooked in coconut milk, topped with a little honey and berries. In China, Korea, and Japan, buckwheat flour is used to make soba noodles, which have been enjoyed for at least a thousand years. Buckwheat crêpes filled with eggs and cheese are very popular in France.

When serving buckwheat groats as a grain, it’s a good idea to coat the groats with a beaten egg, then heat in a pan for about 5 minutes until they dry out. This toasts and seals the groats so they do not become mushy. To cook, mix 1 cup of buckwheat groats with 1 1/2 cups of simmering water.

STORING
Once the hull has been removed from buckwheat groats, the essential oils are not protected from oxygen, which can cause the buckwheat to go rancid. The best way to store buckwheat is in air-tight containers for a short period of time. Flour should be stored in an air-tight container in the fridge.
HEALTH BENEFITS
Buckwheat contains:
    • protein, iron, zinc, phosphorus, selenium, magnesium, flavonoids, and co-enzyme                    Q10, and has more B-complex vitamins than quinoa.
    • fiber, which helps prevent gallstones.
    • all eight essential amino acids, including lysine and argine, which grains typically lack
     • the phytonutrient rutin, which supports the circulatory system. Rutin is extracted              from buckwheat leaves to make medicine for high blood pressure.
     
Buckwheat also lowers cholesterol and helps to balance blood sugar.
     

    

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