Threshing Quinoa.

I was so excited to plant quinoa last spring. I was taking my first real step toward food independence. I was planting grain. The process of growing quinoa was absolutely beautiful. From the very first seedlings to the full-grown, brilliantly colored plants. I am in love with this food staple, both in flavor and in beauty.

I learned all about the grain, where it comes from, how our American appetite for it is creating problems in South American diet and economy. I learned about the value of being able to grow quinoa in my own home garden. The value in harvesting seeds and becoming completely self sufficient from the world market for quinoa. I was really pumped.

I even learned how to thresh grains and winnow them. The class used wheat as an example. It looked complicated, but not impossible. So I harvested my quinoa as it dried on the stalks into buckets to keep them dry and well ventilated. I harvested the last of the still wet quinoa before the first rains came as I had been instructed. I let the quinoa dry on plastic and just recently collected all of the stalks into paper bags and buckets.

The quinoa awaited it’s turn to be threshed and winnowed. The other night I got some motivation and started to thresh it…hmmm. Quinoa is much smaller than wheat. But I read it should be easier to thresh. So I stood in the kitchen and tried pulling off all of the grains with my fingers. There was way too much debris and I did not want to have to winnow it for forever, plus it was hard. So I quit (don’t worry it sounds worse that it was).

A couple of days later I try again. Hmmm. Why is this so hard? How did our ancestors grow all of their own grain?

Finally I try again. This time I banged it on the sides of the buckets like some other, smarter person online recommended. I did finally get it all threshed. But now the buckets are full of grain and debris. So now I have to winnow…hopefully it goes alright!

I have grand ideas of planting much, much more quinoa next year. I just have to remember that I am going to have to dedicate an entire weekend to processing it!

There is one more step that I have neglected to mention. Quinoa needs to be washed. A lot. It has a bitter substance on it called saponin that needs to be rinsed off. It takes a while. In all, I think this was all worth it and I am going to plant more next year, but I am going to have to make sure my motivation for processing is high come October.

Hard!

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4 Comments

Filed under Edible Plants, Garden, Grains/Rice

4 responses to “Threshing Quinoa.

  1. Any updates on threshing in 2012?

    I’m considering a strategy for planting 1/5 acre in Montana … but I’m still researching methods for cleaning the grain before I make the final push towards transplanting them outside. Could really use any advice you have to lend! Thanks for putting in the time to craft this blog!

    Max

  2. Unfortunately I did not have a harvest in 2012. My crop did not take hold and I had nothing to harvest. And again…I will not have a crop this year as grains have taken a back seat for us. With a very small urban plot and grains rarely in our diet we are dedicating our space to produce we can eat fresh and preserve for later. Best of you luck to you. It sounds like you should be able to produce a good bit of grain, just beware of any fall rains.

  3. Oh, that makes sense. Thanks for the well-wishes and the advice about rainy fall days — reading and rereading posts about such things will really help me internalize best practices!

  4. trevorpspeer

    Great pictures, I recently harvested my Quinoa plants and am in the thick of it- quite labor intensive! I appreciate the tips from someone who has done it before. I visited a farm in northern Ca this summer (Botierra Biodiversity Farms)that grows large amounts of Quinoa and learned that the greens are edible, and are especially tender when the plants are young. They taste like a nutty spinach leaf- delicious.

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