Most grain amaranths are mature after 4-5 months— quicker in monsoon climates, slower in highland regions (even as long as 10 months there). Some varieties of grain amaranth in experimental settings have been harvested by machine, but more commonly amaranth is handharvested. Hand harvesting persists because the central flower head usually matures and dries before the seeds on lower branches do. This varying maturity of seed-bearing branches is not a problem to a hand harvester, who can choose and pick. After being plucked from the plant, the grain is dried in the sun and then threshed and winnowed—the seed is heavier than its chaff.
Saving Your Own Seed: The seeds of weedy amaranths have been known to live as long as 40 years. Domesticated varieties are not so hardy, as is the way of things, but if kept in a dry container at room temperature, they have been found to still be able to sprout and grow after several years. High humidity, however, causes the seeds to more quickly lose viability.
Using Amaranth Grain: The grainlike seeds of amaranth are rich in the amino acids that are missing in other grains such as sorghum, millet, barley, and wheat. So adding amaranth to any protein-limited diet improves its nutrition. For this reason, amaranth grain products are especially good for babies, children, and pregnant and nursing women. If you have surplus grain amaranth, chickens like it. Or you can sprout it.
You can boil the seeds to make a thin or thick cereal. Or grind them into flour, add to wheat flour, and make breadstuffs. (Substitute amaranth flour for lA of the wheat flour.) Amaranth flour contains no gluten, so it can't make raised bread, but it makes a sweet light-colored flour that cooks well into unleavened flatbreads like chapatis or tortillas.
<i> POPPED AMARANTH In a wok or fry pan, pop the seeds. Then mix them with honey or molasses and shape into a popcorn-type ball. Or eat the popped amaranth seeds as a cold cereal with milk and a sweetening, or use them as a breading for meats or vegetables. Or bake them whole in bread. But if seeds are too old or dry, they lose their ability to pop.
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