Originally posted by otherpotato
reply to post by jeramie
I have never heard of Amaranth. Just did a quick bit of searching and it looks like quite the versatile plant. Appears to be growable in my zone.
Thanks for the tip and post any advice you have about growing it. I'd love to learn more about it from someone who has firsthand experience.
It's a wonderful plant to grow. And another good thing about it is it actually prefers semi-drought conditions once it is established. The variety
I have grown, the Golden Giant variety, actually grows to more than ten feet tall. The first year I grew them I measured the tallest plant right
after pulling it out of the ground, and it was 15ft 9in! That year I only grew 6 plants, because I bought a small amount of seeds and grew those 6
plants to supply myself with enough seeds for future plantings. I did have to stake them all, because there were so few of them, so I gave them
plenty of space to spread out and produce as many seeds as possible.
Last year I planted about 100 feet of row of Golden Giant. I planted them closer together to utilize as much space as possible, but without crowding
the plants too much. I planted them 15 inches apart, and some of them still reached about 10 feet or so. The bad part is that since there were so
many plants, I was not about to attempt staking every one of them! Surprisingly, maybe only ten or so of them fell down. But, those ten or so still
produced seed. When the plant falls down, the tip of the plant will begin curving upward and continue to grow. And honestly, that doesn't seem to
affect seed production. You probably lose a little bit because some of the stems get squished, but it is well worth it to just let the fallen plants
grow where they fall. I someday want to plant enough amaranth to be able to supply my family with grain year-round.
Advertisements for the Golden Giant variety claim you get about 1 pound of seed from each plant. That is not entirely true. I'm sure that has
happened somewhere at some point, but it is not something that happens with every individual plant. That first year I planted them, I got 3 1/2
pounds of cleaned/winnowed seed from those 6 plants. So, I would say on average you can expect just over half a pound per plant, if you plant them as
far apart as those were. Maybe a little less if you plant them around 15 inches apart. That's pretty good, considering the seeds swell up 3 times
in volume when cooked.
I use a lot of mulch in my garden. If you go to Youtube and watch Ruth Stout's Garden (a two part video, about 20 minutes long altogether), you will
see where I got the inspiration for that. But, even if I did not use a lot of mulch in my garden, the amaranth plant is still very easy to grow, and
like I said, it doesn't use a lot of water once established. Part of that is because they are native to drier parts of the world, and also because
the leaves of the plant shade the ground very well when the plant gets bigger.
Cooking the seeds is easy. I use 3 parts water to 1 part seeds, and it comes out perfectly every time. I let the water come to a boil, then I add
the seeds. Then I turn the fire down way low to where the water is barely at a simmer. Keep a lid on top while cooking. Every 5 minutes I take off
the lid and stir the seeds. Replace the lid. Repeat the same thing every 5 minutes for about 25 minutes. After about 15 minutes you will notice
that every time you take the lid off and stir the seeds, it will thicken up and stay that way. The next time it will thicken ever more, and stay that
way (just something I noticed and thought it was cool).
Some people try to cook amaranth once and then never try it again because they say they have to cook it for almost an hour just to get it soft and
mushy. The thing is, the seeds are actually supposed to be a bit crunchy. If you cook them long enough for them to get soft and mushy, then all the
good nutrition is most likely destroyed. 25 minutes or so is just right, in my opinion.
One of the many reasons I believe people should plant amaranth if they can is because it is very versatile and can go with any meal. When it's
boiled like I described, it comes out almost like grits in texture. The flavor is a sweet, nutty flavor. It's one of the types of food that you can
add cinnamon, sugar, and milk, and eat it as a delicious hot cereal for breakfast, or you can add butter, salt, and pepper to it and eat it with
If you're ambitious enough (unlike me), you can even grind it up into flour and either add it to your regular bread dough recipe, or use it by itself
to make flat bread.