Not a cereal or grain though similar in size to wheat grains whole buckwheat is a wild rhubarb relative fruit placing it on the pseudo cereal list. Buckwheat or Fagopyrum esculentum is gluten free except in instances of cross-contamination. When planting
buckwheat seedlings appear within three to five days and it is ready for harvest in ten to twelve weeks according to Cornell University. Photo at right shows buckwheat in full flower.
After removing the fruits hull, the inside groats of buckwheat can be roasted to make kasha or ground to make buckwheat flour. Kasha describes a porridge made from any whole grain in most parts of the world.
So why all is buckwheat getting all this attention. Perhaps because it’s used globally as a staple and alternative flour in combination with other flours since it lacks gluten. It’s been grown over 4,000 years in India and Nepal and other parts of Asia. Perhaps you’re familiar with these buckwheat dishes:
- Blini topped with crème fraiche
- Cooked plain with butter, or milk porridge, as a side or buy itself.
- Clear Korean noodles (naeng myun) made with buckwheat and arrowroot or Korean Sweet Potato flour
- Soba noodles made with buckwheat and acorn flour
- Buckwheat micro-greens
Rich in protein, iron, calcium, and vitamin C, buckwheat has been placed in the super food category by some while others warn that buckwheat flour based noodles and pancakes have a higher glycemic load than the more healthy groats. Stone grinding the flour leaves the germ more intact than roller processes yielding a coarser texture with more flavor.
There are several places you can buy gluten free buckwheat flour. Bob’s Red Mill carries organic buckwheat flour, pancake mix, whole buckwheat groats, porridge or hot cereal, and whole grain kasha found at many grocers and amazon.com. King Arthur’s has gluten free buckwheat flour in 2-pound fresh-lock bags and recipes for buckwheat flour bread, blini, and Stromboli. You can also buy Hodgson Mills buckwheat flour ground from select groats with that nutty flavor made for generations from grocers, direct or at Amazon.com. The Arrowhead Mills brand may be available in your area. North Carolina’s High Mountain Farms also sells a organic stone milled buckwheat flour. As for organic sprouted buckwheat flour that can be found at Blue Mountain Organics, and Shiloh Farms.
For buckwheat flour based recipes Dr. Jonathan Doue has written Buckwheat: The Ultimate Recipe Guide, and Jeen van der Meer has a cookbook called Cooking with Buckwheat Flour that may be helpful for adding this flavor profile into your diet. Perhaps you’d rather make your own buckwheat flour at home with a simple food processor or grain mill.