Buckwheat is one of the world’s first domesticated crops. Originating thousands of years ago, buckwheat has been a part of the diets of many Asian and European cultures for centuries upon centuries. Buckwheat most definitely qualifies for “superfood” status, not only for its incredible health benefits but also its versatility in both sweet and savoury dishes. Naturally gluten-free, buckwheat is a great choice for coeliacs and those avoiding ordinary wheat products.
How to Cook Buckwheat
This tasty gluten-free grain is surprisingly easy to whip up! Ideally you want to soak your buckwheat groats for at least 6 hours (or overnight) prior to cooking. This will break down its phytic acid content to ensure optimal nutrient absorption and easy digestion. To soak, simply put your buckwheat groats in a bowl with about 3-4 times the amount of water, cover and leave in a warm place in your kitchen. Once soaked, if your buckwheat has that gloopy-like texture, rinse using a colander under filtered water. In addition to the nutritional benefits of pre-soaking buckwheat, it may also reduce its cooking time. Here’s how to cook buckwheat (whether pre-soaking or not):
- How to Cook Pre-Soacked Buckwheat: Add water to a pot and bring to the boil, then add your pre-soaked and rinsed buckwheat to cook for about 3-5 minutes, stirring a couple of times until tender. Fluff with a fork to serve.
- How to Cook Unsoaked Buckwheat: Start by lightly toasting your buckwheat to add flavour. To do this, heat a large dry pot then add your buckwheat and stir until toasted to your liking. Then, cover with water and bring to the boil before reducing the heat to simmer, keeping it covered until the liquid has been absorbed (about 12-15 minutes). Turn off the heat and let stand for 5 minutes, or until all of the water has been absorbed. Fluff with a fork to serve.
Buckwheat In All Forms
Hulled Buckwheat – As a consumable food, buckwheat groats are the hulled seeds of the buckwheat plant. The hulling process removes the outer husk to obtain the grain-like seed inside. When stripped of their dark and inedible outer coating, buckwheat groats are soft, light-coloured seeds with a mild flavour. When they are roasted or toasted, the flavour becomes more intense and nuttier. Roasted or toasted groats are often referred to as “Kasha”, which is different than standard buckwheat groats.
Activated Buckwheat – Activating buckwheat is essentially tricking it into thinking that it is sprouting, therefore releasing its nutrients and making it fresh, sweet and crunchy to eat. The process of activating involves soaking buckwheat groats in water and then dehydrating at a low heat (below 47°C) to make them more digestible and delicious. By purchasing buckwheat that is already activated, you can skip pre-soaking the groats before cooking.
Buckwheat Flour – Buckwheat is milled with meticulous care to create buckwheat flour, which is a wonderful gluten-free flour with a rich flavour that can elevate the mundane to the interesting.
Buckwheat contains all essential amino acids and is a highly digestible, plant-based protein source that supports bone and muscle strength. If you’re on a vegetarian or vegan diet, buckwheat is a great food to regularly include in your diet because it provides two specific types of essential amino acids – lysine and arginine – that you cannot make on your own and must get from food. A heavyweight in nutrition, each tiny buckwheat seed is packed with beneficial antioxidant flavonoids, including rutin, which supports the circulatory system and helps protect against heart disease. Its rich content of antioxidants helps fight against free radical damage, thereby energising your body cells.
Buckwheat has an important amount of dietary fibre to help fill you up, regulate digestion and promote good gut health. Last but not least, buckwheat is a great source of energy-boosting B vitamins, plus minerals including manganese, magnesium, zinc, iron and folate. Magnesium can soothe muscle aches and pains, promote restful sleep and defend against stress. B vitamins, manganese, phosphorus and zinc all help with healthy circulation and blood vessel function, plus they’re known for their natural benefits in fighting headaches and symptoms of depression and anxiety.
- Contrary to its name, buckwheat has nothing to do with wheat. It is actually a fruit seed that is related to rhubarb and sorrel.
- The name “buckwheat” or “beech wheat” comes from its triangular seeds, which resemble the much larger seeds of the beech tree combined with the fact that it is used like wheat.
- Buckwheat belongs to a group of foods commonly called “pseudo-grains”. Pseudo-grains are seeds that are consumed in the same way as cereal grains, but do not grow on grasses. Other common pseudo-grains include quinoa and amaranth.
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