Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Amaranth Grain

I planted amaranth this spring to use as a green, but my chard has survived much longer than I expected, so I let the amaranth go to seed. Poking about the ever useful ECHO site, I found how to harvest the grain, namely, just like any other grain:
Basically, you must thrash it like mankind has always done until the invention of the thrashing machine. The three stages include let the heads dry out, knock the grain from the heads, and winnow the grain. Many of you live where local folks know far more than I about such techniques. For others, here is what we do with small quantities of seed (which must be kept separate from other varieties).

Cut the heads when the grain appears to be mature, and put them somewhere to dry. If left too long much of the grain may shatter (fall to the ground).

Grain easily shatters from the dried heads. Put a few heads in a burlap bag and beat it against the cement floor a few times to knock it loose, or strike the bags with a stick. Then place the grain in a 5-gallon bucket (many other containers would be suitable). You will notice that a lot of chaff comes along with the grain. This is where winnowing comes in.

Place an empty 5-gallon bucket in front of a fan and, cautiously at first, pour some grain and chaff into the empty bucket. A steady wind will accomplish the same thing as the fan, but a gusty wind will cause problems. The grain is denser and will fall closer to the fan than the chaff. Quickly one begins to get a feel for how far the buckets should be from the fan, and at what height to hold the one bucket in order for the grain to land in the empty bucket and the chaff to blow far enough to miss it. Pour the grain back and forth until it appears to be clean.
Final cleanup can be done by swirling and shaking the grain around gently. Remaining chaff will "float" to the top like ice in water, and can be removed by hand.


Blackswamp_Girl said...

Aren't the drying heads of amaranth so pretty? I loved mine last year--I hung it up on a trellis behind a Japanese lantern just because I loved the effect. I'm sure I lost some of the grain that way, though.

Boppa said...

Hi There,
My Amaranthus seeds did not germinate. Planted them over 3 weeks ago. Just barely covered them with dirt per instructions. Nothing. Nada. I had them protected during the big rain last week but have kept them moist. What did I do wrong? I'm in Deland.