Amaranth & Sorghum experiments

 

Ok an up date on my experiments with Amaranth and Sorghum growing and processing and it isnt good news I’m afraid.

My two different amaranths drying

All those months of nuturing and waiting came to nothing really, the amaranth didn’t really develop much seed at all, it looked promising but I realized after threshing the dried plants that if I started to winnow it there wouldn’t be anything left, I had a sneaky suspicion that this would happen it just isnt a long enough season here in Tas for the seed to develope before the frost wind and wet winter sets in because we have a very short season here. So anyway I just winnowed a bit of the bigger material off and kept the rest it ended up being mostly the dried flowers them selves not the seed, I though I could be used like the dock (Rumex sp.) seed flour I make which have a tinny seed with mostly the sheath or little wing around the seed.

I made cookies with the red amaranth, I will call it flour and the color was great it came out like using red beets and it was fine used like that it doesn’t have not much flavor but it has good texture, I haven’t used the other one yet but assume it will be good like this too so it isnt a complete loss.

 In the first picture above you can see the process I use to thresh my plant material you can use this process to do anything dried, so first I hang the plant upside down until they were completely dry then I put them on a big tarp I then fold one side over it all and stomp and scuff around on it so the seeds separate from the bigger woody bits this process is called threshing and after this you can push it through a strainer as well to just refine it a bit more before winnowing, if you were extra keen you could put some music on and have a bit of fun with it. Wear a face mask or a cloth over your face when doing this because it is very dusty and you don’t want this in your lungs I can tell ya! cough cough……

Then in this next picture you can see the end result in the jar and in the back ground you can see the bamboo basket I use to winnow my threshed plant materials, I put a bowl full off the threshed amaranth on the basket then I stand out in the wind you need something flat and stiff to flap with and then in the other hand you hold the basket and you shake back and forth and kind of toss up wards um like when you toss a pancake it is hard to explain and you flap with the other hand vigorously and this removes the finer bits you don’t want. If you are trying for only seed you just keep doing this until there is only the seed  left in the bottom of the basket, you can also winnow things by just pour the threshed material very slowly from one basket or bucket to another in the wind or a fan and it will blow away the fine bits and leave only the clean heavier seeds in the bottom of you basket, I kind of do both.
My grandmother taught me how to do this when I was young I used to pick black currants on our farm for pocket money and you have to winow all the sticks and leaves out in a similar manner.

Amaranth drying

It was the same with the sorghum it looked so promising as a plant but just didn’t grow a flower spike at all and the weather was knocking it over so I harvested the lower stems and decide I would give the syrup a go, the rest of the plant went into the compost bin. Once I de leaved all the stems I needed to figure out how to get the juices out I don’t have a cane crusher so I tried my juicer but it didn’t like that at all so I crushed some of the stems using my noodle/pasta maker it kind off worked but it took bloody ages and was messy as I only did about 2 cups full which took an hour and I thought I better try it to see if it is was even worth doing the whole lot so I simmered it until it thickened only leaving me a table spoon full of syrup but it was enough to try and thank goodness I didn’t do all those stems because I don’t like it, it reminds me of Stevia which I just don’t like.

So all in all at least I can say I tried, the amaranth was at least usable but I don’t think I will grow these again just not the rite climate here next I will try quinoa again and make more of an effort with it I didn’t have my raised beds when I tried this last time and I know that quinoa grows here in Tasmania at least.

So I think the moral of this story is if you don’t try you will never know! Happy experimenting! 🙂

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4 comments on “Amaranth & Sorghum experiments

  1. What a shame you didn’t get much seed. I get lots here in Melbourne, but I’m thinking maybe the problem was that you hung it up to dry like that and most of the seed fell out before you got around to threshing it. (I’m assuming you didn’t have a container underneath it).

    I continually check my amaranth after it’s flowered by shaking a few heads into a container. If there’s plenty of black seed there, I pick all the heads and place them heads down in a large container (those large plastic toy boxes work well). Because the foliage still has a lot of moisture in it, I move it around a bit frequently to stop any mould forming. Lots of seed will fall out during this process and I tip it off and put the plants back until I’ve got all the seed that’s there. Sometimes I’ll use a large sheet instead of a container, but it means having a big enough space being occupied for quite a while. I winnow it pretty much the same way.

    I haven’t tried sorghum yet but did try quinoa once and the seed didn’t germinate.

  2. Yes it was a shame I thought it was going to be good but no, I had it hanging in my room I live in one room so it is rite there in my living room over a lino floor I checked for seeds constantly there just wasn’t any on the floor. There weren’t many bees around this year though it could have been that and just the weather, here we have had sucky summers the last two years, very short more shorter than normal and it has effected crops badly all round, our weather is changing and they may just not have been ready to harvest but they were going moldy, breaking in the wind and falling over even with support, or it could have just been the wrong species the company I bought them from said one the lighter one was a grain amaranth and the red one a leaf amaranth but I though it would still get seeds, the lighter one at least had a bit of seed in it I don’t know exactly what went wrong but it was a lot time to wait to see and I have limited space too so I have to be careful what I grow.
    I’m glad it works for you though! 🙂

  3. I don’t remember ever seeing bees at my amaranth, so don’t know who the pollinators are…must look this year. I grew both forms…the leaf amaranth produces shiny black seed and the grain amaranth produces the creamy-coloured seed. So much is lost on the ground beore I harvest it, it just germinates everwhere now…I don’t bother to especially sow it.

    If you’d like some of my seed to try again, I’m happy to send some.

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