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Types of Amaranth

by Berkeley Wellness  

Amaranth seeds are available year round, but amaranth leaves are more seasonal. Local supplies are usually at their peak in the spring and early summer. Imports from Mexico are available much of the year in ethnic markets. Here are some of the amaranth products you may find in stores.

Amaranth seeds: Harvesting amaranth seeds is a labor-intensive process, so amaranth is a relatively expensive product. Some large supermarkets do stock amaranth alongside rice, barley, and other grains. If you don’t find it there, look for the seeds at a health-food store.

Amaranth flour: Flour made from amaranth seeds has more protein than most other flour, and it’s higher in the amino acid lysine, which gives it a more complete protein. Amaranth flour has a lightly peppery taste and can be used in savory breads and other baked goods. However, it can be expensive and is not widely available.

Amaranth pasta: This pasta is light brown and resembles whole-wheat pasta, but it has the bite and consistency of regular pasta.

Amaranth leaves: Amaranth leaves are available as “spinach” in Chinese and Indian markets. The leaves are sold as amaranth in farmers’ markets, and as callaloo in Caribbean markets (especially in Jamaican neighborhoods). Many seed companies offer several varieties of amaranth for the home gardener, including a purple variety that some gardeners choose for decoration. Because amaranth is an extremely hardy plant—it grows like a weed—with such a wealth of nutrients, it is worth the effort to grow this delicious green.

How to choose the best amaranth

Amaranth seeds should be well wrapped in airtight packages. Amaranth leaves should be bright and unwilted. The stems should look moist and fresh, not dry and split.

How to store amaranth

Like all seeds, amaranth contains fat, which means that the seeds are best stored in the refrigerator or freezer to prevent them from going rancid. Amaranth leaves should be stored in the refrigerator just like spinach—loosely wrapped in the crisper drawer. Do not wash the leaves until you’re ready to use them.