Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Adventures In Grainland: Part 2- Quinoa

The quinoa we planted a few months back did tremendously well.  I have to say I am amazed by this plant.  Everything about it leaves me in love, from the high protein and nutrition content of the grain (16-23%) to the shockingly delicious green leaves (you can eat them raw in salad or saute them).  We barely tilled the soil, barely watered, and still got more than an abundant harvest.  And I know I don't have to say much about the beauty of this plant.  It is breathtaking.  You can be sure I will be planting this every year. A lot of it!

ready to harvest

I harvested the seed heads that had turned a variety of rainbow colors leaving the greenish heads to mature a bit longer.  I noticed that it looks like each plant produces a seed head that will make about one meal depending on how many people you are feeding.  This is can plan out approximately the number of days you want to feed your family by the number of seeds you put in the ground.  For our four person family I could see having enough grain on one plant for  a dinner and a bit left for breakfast as a warm porridge with honey and milk.  Yum. 

still a bit green

this grain is very versatile:  cook like rice, grind into flour, eat as a porridge, or pop like popcorn

After cutting off the heads it was time to hang them to dry.  (I am choosing to hang them on a drying rack with a cloth underneath to catch anything that falls.  You can also hang them in paper bags or over a large bin.)  I will leave them for a couple of weeks (I am estimating) and then remove the grain from the plant.  Quinoa must be rinsed many times before cooking due to the saponins in the outer seed coat. The rinsing water will be foamy almost like soapy water.  After rinsing well until the water runs clean, I will put them in my dehydrator on a low setting to dry then store in airtight glass jars.  You can also just leave the grain out to dry but be sure to leave it for several days at the same temperature it will be stored, before you put it into the containers. It is important to make sure the seeds are not damp. 

I'm so excited about this grain, I hope you get to experiment with growing some quinoa it in the future.


  1. Wow, quinoa is awesome!
    Thanks for the cool post...We're gonna give it a shot here in Los Osos on the CA central coast. Have the perfect spot to grow it!


  2. I am growing Quinoa for the first time. I planted 36 plants from starts. My husband rides 18 mi. round trip to work and back and eats brown rice for breakfast each morning. I want him to replace the rice with Quinoa as the protien is more than double. My Quinoa is still green and been waiting for it to bloom. I planted "Red Head" because it can withstand some rain at maturity without seeds sprouting in the head. We live in Portland, OR. and can expect late summer rain. Thank you for the great photos of the flowers. I've been getting nervous that I don't have color yet and now I know what to look for in the bloom. Still a little unsure when the flowers are mature enough to cut. Will find out.