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is amaranth edible

Young leaves can be eaten raw or cooked like spinach, sautéed, etc. Amaranth loves the heat and is drought tolerant once established. The edible leaves are known as Chinese spinach. Some varieties are marketed as best for seed production, while others are bred for attractive, tasty leaves that work well in salads. 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). 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. The seed, oil, and leaf are used as food. It makes a great salad ingredient after spring greens have been harvested or are bolting. The younger the leaves and stems the better. Amaranth is a hardy plant that thrives in tropical climates around the world. Redroot Amaranth grows as an erect, annual herb reaching a height of 9 feet. Pigweed seeds should never be eaten raw. Maybe. Regardless of your cultivar, amaranth leaves can be harvested at any point. Amaranth grows well in average soils and will grow adequately in poor soils. 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. Amaranth is an ancient grain that is loaded with healthy nutrients. Species across the genus contain concentric rings of vascular bundles, and fix carbon efficiently with a C4 photosynthetic pathway. So you can get away with growing them 10 to 18 inches apart. Great article! A proper history of amaranth would fill an entire book (or several). The seeds are extremely nutritious and protein-packed with a slightly nutty flavor. In other words, it’s the ideal plant for edible landscaping. 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. 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. Avoid using commercial pesticides with a "wait to pick" or any other type of warning regarding consumption. Today, flour and grain products are available on grocery shelves in the U.S. with recipes of all kinds on the internet. This plant was widely used for food by Native Americans of the Southwest. [tweet_quote] Amaranth is a vibrantly colored plant, and both its seeds and leaves are edible. 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. Cook young tender pigweed leaves as you would spinach; steam or sauté/stir-fry in butter or oil. 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. To cook, add to boiling water and simmer uncovered for 25 to 30 minutes. 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. The seed is very small but easy to harvest and very nutritious. Before that, it was foraged wild. The leaves are used as a typical green would be. Germination generally takes 7 to 14 days. I’m gathering amaranth to collect seed to feed my chickens. With their plentiful seeds, amaranth plants will readily self-seed in the garden. I love "weeds" that can go straight into the harvest basket with the rest of the food crops! Amaranth isn't fussy about soil types. Keep an eye on the flowers as they bloom and then begin to die back. Inflorescences of Powell amaranth (left) and purple amaranth (right). One of the amaranth seed's most attractive traits, in an era of anti-wheat, is simply the fact that amaranth is gluten-free. It's also possible to collect some of the seeds in fall and replant them the following spring. Sorting out some amaranths Amaranthus hybridus, aka Smooth Amaranth, stems can be red or green Smooth Amaranth red leaf hairy, green can be hairless. Many Asian and African dishes make use of amaranth greens. These are very easy-to-grow plants, as befits a genus with many species that grow as roadside native plants. copyright © 2010-2020 Wild Edible, all rights reserved | Privacy Policy | Terms & Conditions. Of course the wickedly thorny variety is what usually volunteers in my beds. 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. And unlike a lot of gluten-free wheat alternatives, it's really good for you. Overview Information Amaranth is a plant. Before they all turn brown, cut the flowers off and place them in bags, where they will dry. For more of a soupy porridge-type texture, use one part seeds to three parts water. Amaranth is a plant that falls into one of four categories: grain, vegetable, ornamental or weed. 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. It even has medicinal qualities. Average outdoor temps need to reach about 55 degrees Fahrenheit before planting the seedlings outdoors. 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 … edible amaranth is also known as pigweed. Some varieties are marketed as best for seed production, while others are bred for attractive, tasty leaves that work well in salads. When planting outdoors, sow seeds about 4 inches apart, barely covering them with soil. The local amaranth seems to be a variety called “water hemp,” growing in wet areas. Maybe it's more of an acquired taste. 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… Rinse away the dried seed “chaff” and enjoy your grain harvest. Amaranthus caudatus known by common names as love-lies-bleeding, pendant amaranth, tassel flower, velvet flower, foxtail amaranth, and quilete.. Far from it, the amaranth is a nutritious plant with many health benefits. I'm partial to its cousin, lambsquarters, but amaranth leaves are definitely worth foraging. Amaranth greens nutrition facts. 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. If you want to harvest the plants for seeds, it will take about 12 weeks for the plants to reach full maturity. What Parts Of The Amaranth Plant Are Edible? To harvest grains, let the plant go all the way to flower. Steam, stir-fry, saute, or mix with spaghetti sauce, rice, or meatloaf. 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. The closer you can get them, the better they look once fully grown. But those sold as edible varieties are selected for their good seed production and especially tasty leaves. As greens go, most folks consider amaranth better than acceptable but probably not what you would call "top shelf". Amaranth can fall prey to many of the same pests and diseases that affect other vegetables. Smooth Amaranth flowers are short, petiole one half the lenght of the leaf to as long as the leaf. Or, you can cut the whole plant down off at ground level when it is 1 to 2 feet tall. Having ample potassium in the body helps move oxygen to the brain which stimulates n… 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. Amazon and the Amazon logo are trademarks of, Inc. or its affiliates. The entire plant is used to make medicine. If you are planting amaranth in containers, make sure your container is at least 10” deep. It was a main staple of the Aztecs and was cultivated by them as long as 8,000 years ago. Amaranth is a herbaceous plant or shrub that is either annual or perennial across the genus. In reply to I’m gathering amaranth to by Anne. key word weed. 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. Root rot can be a problem in wet, dense soil or in periods where rainfalls are frequent and copious. 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. Edible Parts. Varieties of amaranth can range from giants topping 8 feet to smaller 1- to 2-foot plants better suited for leaf harvest only. Make sure the site you choose has good drainage and air circulation. 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. If you are eager for early harvest, you can start the seeds indoors as much as eight weeks earlier. When harvesting the leaves, make sure to leave the crown and some leaves around the top to continue growing. Not only are its leaves delectable, its seeds are also edible and nutritious as well. Ancient it is, though. Amaranth has another edible advantage: the leaves can be harvested as a vegetable. 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. In spite of some wild rumors, all amaranth can be eaten — even glyphosate-resistant Palmer pigweed — with a couple of caveats. In fact, once-upon-a-time, this was the primary reason amaranth served as a staple in home cottage gardens. Depending on variety, this may take several rinsings due to the amount of chaff. Not really. Cultivated in Mexico thousands of years ago, both the leaves and seeds of amaranth are edible. 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. In many parts of the world, in South America especially, Amaranth is deemed a traditional garden vegetable crop. Spiny amaranth has edible leaves and might be a medicine and sex aid. Oil made from Amaranth plants can be used in food preparation, body lotions, soap, and related products. Pigweed is one of the common names given to a clutch of Amaranth species that crash parties where they are not wanted. Ancient super-food? North America is home to both native and introduced species of pigweed -- at least one species can be found throughout the entire continent. Amaranth shares a family with the common (and edible) weeds; lambsquarters and pigweed. it will grow even for people who don't want it. Helpful article! 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. 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. Pigweed (Amaranthus retroflexus), is a close relative of amaranth and considered a weed but can be used in much the same way as amaranth. The Spruce uses cookies to provide you with a great user experience. 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. The bulk seed is uses as a "grain" in porridges or added as a thickener to soups and stews. Amaranth is a wonderfully versatile plant that’s a beautiful flower, a delicious vegetable, and a nutritious grain all in one. Or you can use a room or closet with a dehumidifier running. ... Grains are the edible seeds of plants called cereals. Here is a detailed look at amaranth and its health benefits. In fact, excessive nitrogen will cause the plants to become leggy and less suitable for harvesting. According to this study, amaranth seed's protein  is similar to animal protein. Smooth Amaranth flower Smooth Amaranth, green form. At the same time, they need enough space to provide good air circulation. Like these weeds it readily grows in cultivated soil and will self-sow easily if allowed to go to seed. 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. One part seeds to two parts water is a happy medium. 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. Andrey Zharkikh / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY 2.0. Native Americans used Amaranthus species as a food source for centuries. Presently, its growth is mainly concentrated in tropical climates of Latin Americas, Asia and Africa. The seeds are a grain that can be eaten. 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. It’s possible that it will resprout for another harvest, though you do risk introducing pests to the open stem. See the USDA's amaranth leaves nutrition table for details. The flower spikes are probably the plant's most identifiable trait. 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. In a plethora of spots on the map, Amaranth is viewed as a traditional garden crop – especially in South America. Looks like its Latin name is Amaranthus tuberculatus. This amaranth has nutritious, flavorful foliage with a hearty spinach flavor that is sweet and slightly tangy. 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. Amaranth grains are especially good in a porridge that also contains other grains, such as millet and quinoa. Shake the bag once they are dry, or knock the seeds loose over a cloth. 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. 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. Cooked amaranth seeds are sort of nutty. While amaranth plants are tall, they aren’t necessarily wide or bushy. 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. Then sift the seeds through a strainer to remove the coarser chaff. "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.". As they sprout, thin the plants out to a spacing of 10 to 18 inches. Small leaves are more tender, but the larger leaves also have a full flavor. 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. First, remember that amaranth produces edible leaves, similar in taste to spinach. Fresh or dried pigweed leaves can be used to make tea. 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. It's also high in vitamin A and calcium, as well as a host of other healthful vitamins and minerals. amaranth is an entire group of plants. pseudo-cereal seeds are not the same as "true" grains. The seed can only be eaten when it's cooked, as it inhibits nutrient absorption when consumed raw. Amaranth is related to a common weed you probably know, pigweed. Good to know by Jonathan. Growing Amaranth in Containers. The seeds, like that of quinoa, are high in protein and taste similar to true grains grown from grass seeds. Don't overwater, or you run the risk of root rot or fungal diseases. Amaranth seed or grain is also edible when toasted or milled into flour. 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. 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. Amaranth leaves and grains were one of the staple foods of Aztecs and Incas in pre-Columbian times. This helps to keep Wild Edible online. You can consume them raw, stir-fried, or sauteed. 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. Unlike other leafy green vegetables, amaranth is fairly happy in the heat. Angela England is the author of "Backyard Farming on an Acre (More or Less)," and edits the online publication Blissfully Domestic. The flowers eventually dry out and yield tiny husked seeds which may then be harvested. Good to know pigweed is so nutritious! This works better if you have mesh bags. One to one makes a really firm consistency. Amaranths don't require any feeding. 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 differences are more or less cultural preferences, as all types are edible and highly nutritious. In reply to Great article! Pigweed plants can grow to over six feet high with alternating oval to diamond-shaped leaves that may be up to six inches long. Amaranth greens are nutritious, edible leafy vegetables of Central American origin. Amaranths are usually planted from seeds as soon as the last frost has passed in the spring. However, a notable … Thanks, Jonathan! See the USDA's amaranth seed nutrition table for a full list of nutrients. Very rich soils are not necessary for amaranth, and may even hinder flowering and seed production. Nearly all amaranths are edible, including love-lies-bleeding and even the common road-side weedy forms. Pigweed has a mild flavour and is often mixed with stronger flavoured leaves. How does it taste? 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. Historically, the use of amaranth as an ornamental plant is a relatively recent development. Barbara Gillette is a Master Gardener, Herbalist, beekeeper, and journalist with decades of experience propagating and growing fruits, vegetables, herbs, and ornamentals. Note that some species of amaranth leaves, particularly purple amaranth, are … Harvesting Amaranth Plants. 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. 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. Amaranth plants have average needs for water (no more than 1 inch per week). Aztec ritual. There are around 60 species of amaranth — all have varying degrees of good-to-eatness. 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. Store in clean jars or use right away. Amaranth seed has more protein and fewer carbohydrates than both buckwheat and white rice, and its protein is supposedly more complete. You’ll want to cultivate larger plants specifically grown for their seeds if you want the amaranth grain.

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