One of the plants that has been on my mind of late is the Hopi Red Dye Amaranth that we are growing solely for its seed this year with the hope of raising it as a viable grain source next summer. The flowers of this type of amaranth were used by Hopi Indians as a source of red dye. Seeds or grain of various amaranth are much higher in protein (12-17%) than most other grains making it a valuable source of nutrition. Along with our Hopi seeds I will hopefully be able to purchase Orange Giant, an amaranth that reportedly puts out almost a pound of seed per plant and maybe one other type - Plainsman a short season productive variety that I am still researching.
Our goal is to grow enough to make a more traditional Mexican tortilla in place of the wheat ones we now consume, that and homemade pasta. The grain can even be popped (a couple tablespoons at a time so as not to burn it) like popcorn causing the grain to expand to about five times its size. Popped, it can then be eaten as a cold cereal or cooked without popping for a hot cereal. The seeds, like flax, can be used as a thickening agent for certain soups and stews and the young leaves added to salads bring nutrition and color to the plate. We are even thinking of using it to make some sort of homemade power bar using honey and dried fruit...stay tuned.
Next year we will dedicate a couple 4x60' rows to this plant as a test to see just how much grain can be produced. In addition to being a precious food source its beauty alone is beyond compare. The red tassels will even grow back if you are lucky enough to be able harvest the seed early on.
A closeup of this morning's popped amaranth