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.