(Palmer) Amaranth

The bane of every farmer's existence and yet the staple of the Mayan diet for thousands of years, this is one plant you WANT to prioritize learning about.

Palmer Amaranth goes by many names. You're looking for Amaranthus Palmeri if want to research this wild edible under the scientific umbrella.

I'm all about getting to the point rather quickly. So, here's the TL;DR version for those of you who have similar degrees of patience (in other words, save the nostalgia and get to the point):

  • how do you find it

  • why should you eat it

  • what do you do with it once you have palmer amaranth

How do you find palmer amaranth? I found a relatively good video that explains what to look for and where to find it in the wild. So, let's start there.

Why should you eat it? It's a nutritional powerhouse. That's why.

Nutritional and General Info: Amaranth seed flour is gluten free. There are between 2.5 and 3 grams of protein per 100g and multiple necessary vitamins (A, C, K) and multiple beneficial minerals. Amaranth is an umbrella term that covers around 70 classifications and as far as I can tell, they’re all edible. The scientific name for amaranth is amaranthus followed by specifications which will be useful if you want to look for specifics that grow in your region. Palmer amaranth, also known as pigweed, grows just about everywhere and thrives in between rows of corn. Just as a side note, Chenopodium album is also commonly known as pigweed. Both Amaranthus Palmeri and Chenopodium album are both edible.

Warning: Amaranthus contains a scant amount of oxalic acid despite the variable species. All of them contain it, so please remember to blanch and shock older leaves. Because amaranth loves corn, be aware that glyphosate herbicides or pesticides may have been used if you harvest from a cornfield.

USDA Zone: 2 through 10

Alright. Now that you have it, what do you do with it??

Edible Parts: Leaves and Seeds

What do you do with Amaranth Seeds?

  1. Amaranth seeds form in clusters.

  2. The seeds will fall off naturally when they are ready for harvest.

  3. Cluster together, tie and hang upside down in a paper bag.

  4. Store in the pantry or a cupboard until the seeds fall off naturally.

  5. Average duration to harvest seeds varies based on the type of amaranth.

  6. To gain nutritional benefit, amaranth seeds must be cooked before use.

  7. Use to make amaranth cereal or dry and grind to make a flour substitute

How to Make Amaranth Cereal

  1. Similar to quinoa in consistency and preparation.

  2. Basic directions are to add 1 cup of seeds to 2 cups of water.

  3. Rolling Boil for 5 to 7 minutes on medium to high heat.

  4. Then, simmer for 15 minutes or until seeds are tender on lower heat.

  5. Flavor with butter, maple syrup, fruit or honey.

How to Make Amaranth Seed Flour

  1. Cook the seeds for approximately 10 minutes in a rolling boil.

  2. Spread mixture onto a cookie sheet

  3. Bake at 250 for 25 minutes or until dry.

  4. When fully dried, crush seeds into powder.

  5. Store in an air-tight container in a cool, dry place.

What do you do with Amaranth leaves?

  1. Wash before eating even if you plan to eat younger leaves raw.

  2. Eating amaranth raw is not recommended because of the oxalic acid

  3. Be aware of any pesticides, herbicides, insects or other animals that may have come into contact with the leaves.

  4. Blanch and shock older leaves to remove bitterness and toxins.

  5. Younger leaves can be eaten raw due to reduced oxalic acid content.

  6. Add younger raw amaranth leaves to traditional salads.

  7. After blanching and shocking older leaves, continue boiling for an additional 10 to 15 minutes or until tender (like spinach).

  8. Older blanched and shocked leaves can be fried or steamed.

  9. Blanched and shocked leaves can be fried in butter or the oil of your choice for 10 minutes or until desired texture. Season to taste.

If you're a nerd like me and want to research FURTHER. . . here are some resources:

SDSU Extension

Cooperative Extension Kansas State University

USDA Plant Database: Palmer Amaranth

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