As I mentioned in Part I of my “how to” article on Growing Buckwheat for the Backyard Gardener, I am one of those gardeners who grows to grow. The more usual and challenging the plant, the happier I am. I know. I have some gardening issues but I am working on them.
I broke my “how to grow” article in two parts because I have diarrhea of the mouth when it came to writing an article on how to grow buckwheat. Sorry to use such a gross term but I can get carried away when I talk about gardening. And let’s be honest here. A three page essay on the beauty of buckwheat isn’t going to be too appealing to everyone. So, hence part I and part II of my buckwheat ordeal this summer.
Anna, get to the point. How did your buckwheat experiment fare?
For those of you who are waiting with bated breath about my buckwheat experience, check out the below video on how much I harvested in my 100 to 120 square foot plot.
I think I got a pretty good harvest. Was it worth the work? I think so, but everyone has to assess how much time they have. Perhaps have a buckwheat harvesting party and everyone gets a bunch of stalks to strip? After a few apple martinis, everything seems fun.
When you are done harvesting, use the stems as mulch.
Can you winnow?
No, this is not a dance, nor a new fanged hoola hoop. Winnowing is an old fashion way to remove the dried leaves, immature seeds, and branches from your grain mix. According to Pennridge.org, in the early 1900’s, the chaff was separated from the grain in a process called winnowing.
“After threshing, the grain and shaft left on the floor were tossed in the air in the wind using a winnowing basket (shallow basket as seen at right). The basket was lifted up and the mixture was tossed in the air. The wind blew away the lighter shaft and the heavier grain fell back into the basket. Winnowing usually took place in a barn between two open doors with a continual air flow.”
For us folks who don’t have machines, we have to use the wind to help us like above or a window fan. I used a windy day to separate some of the chaff, but did not do the greatest of jobs. A learning experience no doubt. I guess I will be putting on my resume soon “an expert at winnowing.”
I am convinced that this expertise will surely land me a job in sustainability. What do you think?
How to Cook the Buckwheat
Now here comes the interesting part. Buckwheat has a hull around it and inside it is the grain. What do you do with buckwheat grain? Make kasha or use the flour to make pancakes, cookies, or other dishes.
I could not figure out why my buckwheat was black and my store bought flour was tan. Did I grow an heirloom black variety? Or was I just stupid of the gardening type? Um, according to the Jefferson Institute, the latter. (The Institute specializes in grow not so normal run of the meal grains like my beloved Amaranth.)
Personally, between us, the folks at the Institute are too kind to tell me to my face to get a life. But every time I call them, I am sure they mutter under their breath. (“Not her again. Why doesn’t she grow normal things?”)
Back to kasha. If you have not tried kasha, an eastern european and russian dish, you are missing an amazing tasting food. I always thought kasha was made from buckwheat but according to the “About Kasha” website, it can be made from any grain. See here for many kasha recipes.
So, how am I going to cook with my hulls on? The folks at the Jefferson Institute told me that I can take a rolling pin and crush the hull to get to the grain. Alternatively, I can mill the grain and sift out the hulls. I have a grain mill, which is an attachment to my kitchen aid mixer. I love it. (You can buy this attachment in my Green Talk store where I receive a small affiliate payment to help keep the site going.)
So you know, I don’t grow grains to use my newest toy, the grain mill. (Okay, I confess, well maybe…)
How does Buckwheat taste?
First, I have not tried using my buckwheat yet since I need to do a better job of winnowing. But I have made pancakes and cookies using store bought flour. The pancakes were a little boring tasting, but this may have been the recipe. The buckwheat cookies were amazing. But then again, all the gluten free recipes that I have used from Karina’ Gluten Free Goddess blog are amazing.
Love to Grow Buckwheat. But Harvest it?
Growing and harvesting buckwheat is not for everyone. Do I regret it? No. I love the flowers and when else can I complain for no reason? Seriously, I love to grow plants, so I may not be the best judge of growing buckwheat. Buckwheat is a great green manure to add nutrients to your soil in between growing periods such early summer harvests and fall planting. See here for a complete discussion of planting green manures. Consider growing this beautiful plant and let me know if you love growing it as well.
So, here my Questions:
- Would you or have you grown buckwheat? If so, what were your results?
- Do you cook with buckwheat? If so, what are some of your favorite recipes or books on cooking with grains?
- Do you sleep on a buckwheat pillow? Why? I thought since we are on the subject of buckwheat, why not ask.