December is here already and that means it’s time for another Grain of the Month! This month the Whole Grains Council is featuring buckwheat. This versatile grain is worth learning about so you can use it in your winter recipes!
What is Buckwheat?
- Buckwheat is actually a pseudo-cereal, which means it is a non-grass (cereal) crop that is used in similar ways as a cereal crop.
- The buckwheat plant is bright green and has heart-shaped leaves with small white flowers.
- Buckwheat has been consumed for centuries and is currently used worldwide.
- Most people probably know buckwheat not for the plant itself but for the unique pyramid-shaped seed.
- Buckwheat is not actually a relative of wheat. So, how did its name come to be? The buckwheat groats (seeds) look similar to the larger beech tree seeds. Because of the similarities, people called the green plant beech wheat/buckwheat ever since.
How to use Buckwheat
- Buckwheat can be ground-up like a grain and used in things like pasta, pancakes, and many other recipes. It can add a nutty flavor to some of your favorite dishes.
- If you plan to cook the groat, make sure you coat them with oil or egg, then heat them in a skillet until dry. If you skip this step, the seeds will swell very large, then collapse into an oatmeal-like mush.
- Since buckwheat is actually a seed, not a grain, it is gluten-free and is safe to eat for those who have celiac disease or a gluten intolerance. The buckwheat groat can even be ground into gluten-free flour.
Buckwheat has several health benefits.
- It is high in zinc which can help strengthen the immune system.
- It also contains potassium. Potassium can help maintain the body’s fluids.
- Buckwheat has the second highest protein level (the first being oats).
- It is rich in amino acids.
These benefits just scratch the surface. Visit this page for a list of additional health benefits.
- There is an International Buckwheat Symposium held every three years that is organized by the International Buckwheat Research Association.
- Preston County in the state of West Virginia holds an annual Buckwheat Festival!
- Discarded buckwheat hulls are sometimes used in homeopathic pillows or in heating and cooling packs.
- There are several notable celebrities that go by the name “Buckwheat”. Some of those being Buckwheat from The Little Rascals and Buckwheat Zydeco.
This unique seed can be used in a variety of recipes and not only provides a rich flavor but several health benefits as well.