Main characteristics of amaranth
The varieties of amaranth currently present in the world are a few dozen. Some are perennials while others are annuals. They are widespread in many countries and are characterized by lanceolate leaves crossed by a dense network of very visible veins. They are pale green in color and in spring the finer apical branches produce the characteristic amaranth colored inflorescences. After wilting, the plant produces small round seeds. In pre-Columbian populations, these seeds were used exclusively for food purposes. They used them like other cereals by boiling them or grinding them into flour. The species grown in Italy are almost all hybrids, and their main function is to decorate gardens and parks.
The benefits of amaranth
The merits of amaranth or amaranth, if you will, are many. It is a very easy plant to grow and produces many large hanging catkins. The round seeds are rich in starches, proteins, fibers and mineral salts in large quantities. They are also a valuable source of lysine or the amino acid that is hardly present in other types of cereals. Amaranth seeds are harvested when they reach the maximum degree of maturity, after drying they are ground into flour and used to prepare polenta but also breads of different types if added to soft wheat flour. In our country, amaranth was rediscovered as a food product only for a short time, while in other parts of the world it has been used for centuries.
Amaranth plants survive even in adverse weather conditions and have the advantage of growing quickly. They prefer sandy or stony soils that are not too fertile. They should be placed in places with good direct sunlight, otherwise the inflorescences will become increasingly rare and less beautiful to look at. It tolerates arid climates, but too much humidity can promote the appearance of molds and rots harmful to health. During the coldest time of the year, the amaranth goes into vegetative rest until the following spring, and sowing is done directly at home. The seeds are placed in the ground and watered regularly. A few weeks after planting, the first plants will be visible.
Amaranth: Amaranth in the kitchen.
Amaranth in the kitchen can be used to make dishes of all kinds. It is completely gluten-free and can be used by people intolerant or allergic to gluten. Fresh seeds are first washed and then cooked in plenty of salted water over low heat. Amaranth cooked in this way lends itself very well to accompanying vegetables, grilled meats or fish, but the flour is excellent for making pastry and bakery products such as bread and focaccia. Its flavor is not appreciated by the European population but in this last period it is increasingly easy to find it in specialized organic product stores or in fair trade stores. The dry seeds can be popped like pop -corn.