My first memory of amaranth was as a child, as my mom toting me along to her weekly trip to the hippie natural foods store. The products were labeled with all sorts of things I’d never heard of — including amaranth. I just loved sounding the name in my head. Once I got my greedy little hands on some carob-coated honeycomb or some such, I had forgotten all about it.
Fast forward to adult me, deep into gardening, who bought some seeds that promised to be easy to grow in our extreme summer heat, and looked gorgeous, decked out in fiery red plumes.
I have been growing it every since. Partially because I enjoy it so much, but also because it self-seeds so readily. Every season, I think, “I don’t think I’ll sow amaranth this year,” only to find it popping up in some random corner of the garden.
Here’s how I grow it, and what I do with the grain:
Later on, especially when the stores shelves were wiped out of wheat flour, I started thinking about using it as an alternative flour. I knew that it’s often used in many cuisines, as well as by people who eat gluten-free. So I tried my hand at grinding into flour, and using it in a few basic recipes.
This year, I told myself again that I am not sowing amaranth, but after I top-dressed the garden with our compost, guess what’s popping up all over the place!