Do you know anyone else who has grown any gluten free grains in their backyard garden? No? Neither do we.
That didn’t stop us. We planted amaranth, sorghum, teff, and flax this year. Just as in the rest of the garden, there were some successes and some we will not repeat.
Even though we will not plant most of these next year, we enjoyed trying them. We know our grains are organic. We know they are not contaminated with wheat. We built up our internal supply of vitamin D. Our pantry is full. We have a small plot of fertile land. These are all good things. Things we are very thankful for.
We encourage you to grow a garden, or to grow something next year. Please share with us what you grow. It is such a rewarding experience, and you will have much to be thankful for too.
I cook with all of these grains and seeds, and have posted before with recipes. I’ll add a garden review here, and you can click on links for previous posts.
amaranth flower photo by vsimon
Amaranth is the clear winner here. From just a small packet, it produced nearly 2 pounds of seeds, harvested over 2 months. We cook the seeds for hot breakfast cereal. And pop them for a tiny version of popcorn.
Early in the season, we also harvested the leaves and stems. Steamed tender young stems taste just like asparagus! Later in the year the leaves and stems get too tough to eat.
young amaranth leaves and stems photo by lsimon
Amaranth is also worthy of planting in the flower garden. Ours got 8 feet tall, with striking flowers.
I don’t really consider flax a gluten free grain. It turned out to be the same as flax I had grown in the flower garden. It has airy leaves, with pretty little sky blue flowers. The thought of harvesting it hadn’t occurred to me before.
Vince ordered it this year from Bountiful Gardens, where it was listed with grains. And I often add ground flax seed in gluten free baking. So he thinks of it as a gluten free grain.
flax gone to seed photo by vsimon
We didn’t get much of a harvest, only 3 oz. A ground squirrel was well fed though, he ate more than we did. It is far easier to buy flax seed in the store. And so we do.
White Seeded Popping Sorghum
We love sorghum, flour and syrup. The plant looks just like corn stalks with an exploded ear of corn at the top.
sorghum plant photo by vsimon
In our cold wet spring, it germinated very poorly. But once it took hold, it was fun to watch. We harvested over 4 pounds of seeds.
I won’t be making flour out of it. I don’t have the equipment and this really is not enough. We aren’t boiling down the stems for syrup either. That is just too hard core for me.
sorghum seeds, raw and cooked photo by vsimon
We have cooked the seeds in a slow cooker. It tastes just like corn, and smells just like cooked corn. The seeds are smaller, and creamy white.
It will be pleasant to wake up to a steamy, fragrant bowl of sorghum seeds for breakfast on a wintery morning.
They could be used for a grain side dish too. Like rice, or quinoa.
We tried popping them, without success, and despite the name. We tried several times, and tried several methods.
They did get toasty tasty though. I thought this could be a crunchy addition to trail mix. And we have a lot of seeds to use.
The teff was sad. The teff grew well enough. It is short, only 3 feet tall. The leaves are soft and arching.
But the seeds are so tiny I don’t know how they are harvested. They just disappear. There are seeds in this picture. Really, there are. They are hard to see even up close.
teff plant with seeds photo by vsimon
We threshed the teff and got a whopping 1.2 ounces (1/4 cup) seed. And it is nearly impossible to clean the chaff away. If you blow on it, it goes, and so does the seed.
We will be buying teff seeds and flour in the store too.
Possibilities for next year
Maybe buckwheat, millet, and quinoa. We will keep you posted.
Update: Read Linda’s guest post on Mother Earth News.