Did you know that the Aztecs used amaranth as food around 7,000 years ago? They also used it in different religious ceremonies!
We wouldn’t be doing that, of course. We will, however, cook and eat amaranth because its seeds are highly nutritious.
Before we do any of that, though, we need to get our hands on some amaranth seeds. So, how to harvest amaranth seeds?
Harvesting amaranth is straightforward. You simply rub off the seeds from the plant. The problem is that you’ll end up having extra additions to the mix that you don’t need.
We’ll show you exactly what to do, along with various tasty amaranth facts.
Amaranth Seed Benefits
Here’s why Amaranth seeds are good for your body:
- High Protein Content
Amaranth seeds are richer in plant protein than most other seeds. Additionally, when broken down to amino acids, they resemble the animal protein more than any other plant in the plant kingdom.
Amaranth seeds are also rich in Lysine which is an amino acid that’s often missing from most plant protein sources.
Gluten-free food isn’t scientifically proven to provide particular health benefits.
Gluten does, however, pose a problem for people who have gluten intolerance or celiac disease. So, it’s better to step away from it whenever possible.
- Rich in Antioxidants
The natural cellular activity in the human body forms byproducts known as oxidants or free radicals. Those oxidants, if accumulated, could contribute to the development of various diseases.
Amaranth seeds are rich in antioxidants like gallic acid and vanillic acid. Those acids participate in degrading those harmful oxidants and preventing their bad side effects.
- Lower Cholesterol
Cholesterol, or LDL ‘bad’ cholesterol, is one of the main reasons for blood circulation problems.
Amaranth seeds help in reducing that bad cholesterol without affecting the good HDL cholesterol.
- Reduce Inflammation
Amaranth seeds reduce the production of a certain antibody in our bodies known as IgE. That antibody is responsible for inflammatory reactions.
The inflammation would be less severe when your body has fewer numbers of IgE and the amaranth seeds do exactly that.
When To Harvest Amaranth Seeds
You should harvest your Amaranth seeds around three months after you’ve planted them. This is usually in mid to late summer and could vary a little depending on where you live.
To be more accurate, you should harvest the seeds when they start falling from their flowers. Give your plant a gentle shake and if the seeds start to fall, then it’s time to harvest.
Keep in mind that the shake needs to be gentle. If you’re too hard on your plant, the seeds will fall even when they’re not ready to be harvested yet.
How To Harvest Amaranth Seeds
Here’s how to harvest amaranth seeds in simple steps
1. Rub the Seed Heads
This step is as straightforward as it gets. You need a bucket or any container that you’ll fill with the seeds.
Now, grab the seed heads and rub them over to remove them from the plant and into your bucket. Picking off the seeds individually is too slow, so just rub them against each other for quick, easy harvesting.
The dry seeds are mostly the ones to come out when you harvest the amaranth plant. If you’re left with a considerable amount of seeds in the plant, come back a few days later and they should be dry enough to come out.
2. Blow off Any Insects or Chaff
By the time you’re done harvesting the seeds, you’ll notice that your bowl contains more than just seeds.
Insects, dust, and chaff will often mix up with your seeds. We’ll filter the seeds completely in the following step but for now, we need to reduce this mess a little.
Gently blow some air on the bowl to get rid of the excess. The air you blow should be gentle enough not to blow away the seeds and hard enough to get rid of the insects and some of the chaff.
3. Filter the Seeds
By now, you should have your amaranth seeds in a bowl mixed with a fair amount of chaff. You’ll need to winnow out that chaff from your seeds.
To do that, you’ll need a few sieves. Stack the sieves in a manner where the bigger ones are on top and the smaller ones are at the bottom.
Place your seeds on top and start shaking the biggest sieve. It will filter out the bigger chaff particles and leave you with seeds mixed with smaller chaff particles.
Repeat the process with all sieves until you’re left with the bottom sieve. At that point, you’ll end up with only the precious amaranth seeds.
We recommend doing all of these steps outside your house. It can get messy.
How To Store Amaranth Seeds
You can store amaranth seeds for up to six months if you do so correctly (more on seed saving).
Before storing, make sure that your seeds are completely dry or they may form some molds. You need to leave them near a sunny window or an indoor heat source for a couple of days to dry them out completely.
You have the option of leaving them outside to dry in the sun. The birds, however, will mostly feast on most of them during those two days.
As the seeds dry, stir them around occasionally to make sure that all surfaces are dry. Once the two days are over, store the seeds in an air-tight container.
How To Use Amaranth Seeds
You should eat the amaranth seeds to get all the values they have to offer. Eating them raw isn’t a good idea, though.
They won’t cause any toxicity but they will bind to the vitamins and minerals in your food. When that happens, your body won’t be able to consume those vitamins and minerals.
So, the better alternative is to cook them into a delicious meal. Cereal and polenta seem to be the most common meal that most people cook amaranth seeds into.
You could also use amaranth seeds as texturization for baked goods.
How To Plant Amaranth Seeds
There are over 60 different species of amaranth plants. Fortunately, all of them can be planted using similar methods. You’ll need:
- Black compost
- Red sandy soil
- A soil bed
Once you prepare those, follow these simple steps:
Step #1: Soak Your Seeds
Soak your amaranth seeds in water for 8 hours. The temperature of the water should range between 70°F to 85°F.
The point of soaking the seeds is to give them the chance to germinate. You’ll notice that more than 90% of your seeds will form small white extensions.
Those extensions help the baby seeds absorb more nutrients when absorbed in the soil
Step #2: Preparing the soil
You’ll need to mix one part of fertilizer with two parts of red sandy soil and three parts of black compost.
Use a shovel to mix your soil inside the soil bed.
Step #3: Plant Your Amaranth Seeds in the Soil
Make small holes using your fingers in the soil. The holes should be at least 3 cm apart to give room for the amaranth to grow.
Place 1–2 seeds per hole then cover the soil with a compost layer. Spray some water on that layer to keep the soil moist and make it easier for the seeds to absorb nutrients.
Step #4: Place Your Soil bed in the sun
Amaranth grows best in the full sun treatment. It will need eight hours of sun every day for healthy growth.
If your plant is indoors, the target sun time should be between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m.
Step #5: Maintain Your Amaranth
At this point, all you’ll need to do is water your amaranth and apply fertilizer.
You should water your plant once or twice a week. If the weather is too hot, you may add a little extra water for a third time.
As for fertilizer, Amaranth isn’t fertilizer-dependent. You can, however, add 100 g of fertilizer after 7 days and 50 g after 14 days to give it a little extra boost.
We hope that you know how to harvest amaranth seeds by now. The process is a simple mix of rubbing the seeds and filtering them.
It’s an easy and quick procedure that should take you less than 30 minutes to finish. You’d also get a breath of fresh air as you do so.