Buckwheat is a common cereal in Eastern Europe and Israel. It is nutritious, versatile and useful for people who want to reduce the amount of gluten in their diet and normalize blood sugar levels.
Because of its composition and texture, buckwheat often qualifies as a whole grain. But that is not entirely true. Buckwheat is the seed of buckwheat (Fagopyrum esculentum in Latin), a plant related to rhubarb and sorrel.
The grits have a triangular shape and are whole, peeled kernels of seeds. In supermarkets it can be found both unroasted (lighter, greenish color) and roasted (darker, brown color). Less commonly, it is found in the form of slices – split or chopped into smaller pieces.
Buckwheat is rich in iron, vitamins B1 and B2, essential amino acids and, of course, rutin (vitamin P). In terms of content of this powerful antioxidant buckwheat is the clear leader among other cereals. If you want to read its full composition, you can read it on the website United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).
Nutritionists consider regular consumption of buckwheat porridge to be a guarantee of normal blood pressure and cholesterol levels in the older generation. And in children’s nutrition it is simply necessary, as its components are important in the formation of the musculoskeletal system and the nervous system.
8 rules to guarantee a perfect result
- Boil the buckwheat in the “right” pot. The buckwheat must steam well. If the pot is very large or very small, this will not happen. The thickness of the walls of the pot is also important. In a thick-walled (or better – cast-iron) pot the porridge will languish at a constant temperature and will taste much better.
- Use roasted buckwheat. Porridge made from green (not fried) cereals will be less flavorful. It takes much longer to cook and needs to be soaked beforehand. Heating the groats in a frying pan at medium heat will give them an even nuttier flavor.
- Rinse the buckwheat. Check the groats for foreign matter – grains of other grains, seeds of plants, and bits of earth. This is best done on a flat, level surface without sides, such as a pull-out board. Spread the groats out in a single layer, remove any excess, and shovel the grains into a prepared container or immediately into a sieve. Rinse under running water to remove any remaining dust.
- Experiment with the amount of water. The classic ratio of buckwheat to water that you will find in many sources is 1:2. But a lot depends on the quality of the buckwheat itself, as well as the tightness of the lid to the pot, the presence of a steam outlet hole in it, and many other factors. I have found recipes in which the amount of water varied from 1.5 to 2.5 in ratio to the grits.
- Cook with broth. To make the porridge more flavorful, prepare it with chicken or vegetable broths. You can also add dried onions and garlic.
- Do not open the lid during cooking. Buckwheat does not like to be “disturbed. Steaming evenly under a closed lid is a guarantee of results. For the same reason, salt the porridge at the beginning of cooking.
- Do not allow it to boil over too much. If even at minimum heat on the stove the porridge continues to boil violently, use a flame-spreader.
- Allow the porridge to separate after cooking. Do not rush to dress the buckwheat with oil and spices immediately after cooking. Cover the pot with a kitchen towel and leave it to “rest”. The porridge will turn out crumbly.
How to cook buckwheat
Before cooking, rinse the buckwheat under running water and put it on a sieve. Transfer the buckwheat to a pot and add cold water. Salt, cover with a lid and put on high heat until the water boils. Reduce the heat to a minimum.
Cooking time is usually 15-20 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat. If there is extra water left over – no problem. Just pour it out.
You can add a tablespoon of olive oil, salted or unsalted butter, as well as additional salt and pepper. It is better to use sea salt – it will enrich the taste of buckwheat porridge.
Cooking buckwheat in a multicooker
Put washed buckwheat groats and water in the bowl of the multicooker (ratio of groats to water 1:2). Salt, close the lid and set the mode “Porridge”. Cooking time – 25 minutes.
At the end of cooking, drain the excess water. If there is still plenty of time before dinner, leave the cooked porridge in the “Preheat” mode.
How to boil buckwheat in a pressure cooker
Note that this cooking method requires less water: 1¾ cups per cup of grits. Close the lid of the pressure cooker tightly and cook at high pressure for 5 minutes.
Allow the porridge to stand for 10-15 minutes before releasing the pressure.
How to cook buckwheat in bags
With buckwheat in bags there is no problem at all. Take a large enough pot, pour water into it. Bring it to the boil, salt and add as many sachets as you need.
Boil for 15 minutes, then take the sachets out of the pot and release their contents with scissors. Season the porridge with butter and serve as a side dish.
How to diversify buckwheat
Ordinary buckwheat porridge is delicious and nutritious on its own, both as a main dish and as a side dish. But you always want to make something special.
Add herbs and spices
To spice up plain boiled buckwheat, consider adding your favorite herbs, spices and seasonings.
These can be:
- ground black pepper;
- dried garlic or onion;
Experiment, and you’re sure to find your universal composition for the perfect porridge.
Roast porridge with vegetables
The composition of vegetables can also be varied and depend on the season. Try adding bell peppers, kale, carrots, onions or garlic. Roast the vegetables in a pan until golden and add the buckwheat porridge. Garnish the dish with basil.
Add buckwheat to the salad
Chill the cooked porridge in the refrigerator. Mix in a salad bowl with fresh diced vegetables. Add chopped nuts. From the greens take dill or mint (don’t have mint? Use one of this substitutes). This salad will go well with a dressing of olive oil, lemon juice and wine vinegar.
Make breakfast porridge with fruit and spices
Boil the porridge according to the usual recipe. Instead of water, you can use milk (cow, almond, soy or coconut milk). Bring to a boil and add spices to taste, such as vanilla, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice.
Before serving, sprinkle the porridge with chopped nuts (almonds, pistachios, Greek) and add fruit (raspberries, banana, strawberries, blueberries) or dried fruit (raisins, apricots, dried currants).
Store cereal in an airtight container or glass jar with a tight lid. Keep it together with other cereals in a cool pantry.
Ready porridge should be stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container. This way it will stay fresh for up to 5 days. You can also freeze it. It is better to do it in special bags, squeezing out the excess air. This way it will not freeze to the shelf or other products. Storage time is up to 3 months.
The porridge can either be heated for a minute in the microwave, adding a little water, or in a pan with a little butter.
And in conclusion, a little about such an important buckwheat product as flour. Buckwheat seeds have an unusual triangular shape and require special flour preparation techniques. However, once milled, buckwheat flour can be used alone or mixed with other kinds of flour.
- In Japan, buckwheat flour is used to make soba, a long brown-gray noodle. It is part of many hot and cold Japanese dishes. It can be found not only in Japanese homes, but also in very expensive restaurants.
- England and France are famous for their delicate buckwheat pancakes.
- In some Eastern European countries buckwheat flour replaces some of the wheat flour in the dumpling dough.
- In the Himalayas, Northern China, and Tibet, buckwheat flour is used to make tortillas.
- In Northern Italy, buckwheat flour is used in the production of pizzoccheri, flat ribbon-like noodles. It is also mixed with corn flour to make a more nutty polenta.
Be sure to include buckwheat in your diet. Support your immune system and protect your body from viruses.