Popped Amaranth

June 14, 2008 at 7:11 am (breakfast, Grains, Other, Quick weeknight recipe, unrated)


I was trying to find a new recipe for the rest of the amaranth in my pantry–a pretty difficult task it turns out; amaranth is just not popular. I didn’t find a recipe, but I did find out that you can pop amaranth at home.   Here’s the tale.

Jane Brody, in her Good Food Book, says to heat a heavy skillet or a wok until it is very hot, and then add 1 Tbs. of amaranth seeds. Stir the seeds continually to prevent them from burning, and remove from the pan immediately when most of the grains have popped. (They don’t all pop, but the unpopped seeds can also be eaten.) Repeat this procedure until you have popped as much grain as you desire; they expand to three or four fives their original volume. She warns not to try popping more than 1 Tbs. of seeds at a time or they will just burn.

This worked pretty well, even with 2 Tbs. of seeds. With 4 Tbs. of seeds it seemed like more burnt than popped. I quite liked the popped amaranth with soymilk.

A different set of instructions from Serendipitious Chef Blog

Heat a small skillet with a tight fitting lid until very hot. Place 2 tbsp of amaranth seeds on the skillet, quickly cover with lid, and shake skillet over heat until most of the seeds have popped, 30 seconds or so. Transfer popped seeds to a bowl. Repeat procedure with more amaranth seeds until you have about 2 cups of popped amaranth seeds. Reserve popped seeds.

These instructions didn’t work very well for me–most of the seeds burned.

I often pop corn in the microwave.  I just get a small paper bag, toss in a quarter cup or so of corn kernels out of the bulk bin at my local health food store, fold the top of the bag over a few times, and then microwave on high for 1 3/4 to 2 1/2 minutes.  The exact amount of time will depend on the power of your microwave, the size of your bag, and the amount of corn you’re popping, but I find that a good rule of thumb is once the pops fall below 1 per second, it’s time to take the popcorn out.  All the kernels won’t have popped, but those ones will fall to the bottom and you can always put them in again after you’ve eaten all the popped corn.

I’ve wondered for a few years now if you can pop amaranth in the microwave, and I finally got around to testing it out this week.  I placed about 2 Tbs. of amaranth in a small paper back, and tried microwaving it.  Unfortunately, before the pop rate decreased much at all I smelled burning.  I pulled the bag out and took a look.  One hunk of amaranth in one corner was perfectly popped, another corner was a black smoking charred mess, and a third corner was completely unpopped, but not burnt.  Perhaps trying to pop amaranth in the microwave, at least without some special device, is not a good idea.  I’d love to hear if anyone has done this successfully though.
Original post written December 26th, 2006

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12 Comments

  1. Gerald (Jerry) Landis said,

    Pop pop. Learn something new everyday.

  2. Sarah said,

    When I lived in West Africa, the local folks used to pop amaranth in sand. Of course you then have the sand on the popped kernels, which didn’t seem to bother them too much, but does bother me. I wonder if having the heat surround the kernels, though, helped in some way, similar to the way that oil helps popcorn pop. Has anyone tried adding oil to the amaranth?

  3. captious said,

    I haven’t, but it would certainly help create a more uniform heat.

  4. La La said,

    Just popped 1 T Amaranth and then rolled a banana in it. Yummy, crunchy treat!

  5. Beth Jo said,

    I just tried popping amaranth in the hot air popper. I added about 1 tbsp of seeds, along with four popcorn kernels. This technique worked quite well.

    I stopped the popping when two or three of the popcorn kernels had popped – using the easy to see grains as a timer. None of the amaranth burned. A fraction of the amaranth didn’t pop, but it seems like this is similar to the skillet method.

    I added salt and ate the popped grain. It was pretty good. Will try it as a cereal later.

    • Dave said,

      I’m definitely interested in air popping amaranth — I burn way too much in a pot. What type/brand of popper do you have? I’m worried about the seeds being so small they would slip through whatever vents the hot air comes through.

    • captious said,

      Cool! Thanks Beth Jo for letting us know that the hot air popper works!

      • Lindsey said,

        What type of air popper works for Amarenth? I did not see the reply and interested in this.

    • marguerite munch-weber said,

      what electric popper did you use? mine for sure did not work

  6. residont said,

    I’m wondering what brand of air popper works best and if there are more suggestions for an even pop.

  7. padma said,

    I tried to pop kabuli chana (white chick peas along with corn kerneels and it did not pop but got quite soft and tasted nice to eat along with popped corn

  8. MissUsedXo.tumblr said,

    I know this is an old post but just in case anyone else stumbles across this…I know from personal experience it is hard to find any info on preparing amaranth or recipes that use it…

    When I first tried popping amaranth, I cranked the heat all the way. They pretty much instantly burned. My stove uses a number system with 8 being the hottest. I put my stove at 6 and put a deep pot on and waited for it to heat. I put in 1 tbs amaranth and shook the pot, keeping it in direct contact with the burner. It will vigorously pop. Once you hear those pops really starting to slow, quickly transfer to a bowl and add a New tbs amaranth. It will take trial and error to find the best setting for your stove. I plan to try this again with a lid at a slightly lower temp to see if that will prevent the amaranth from popping all over the stove top and floor.

    I plan to use my popped amaranth to make “granola” bars. follow my tumblr for more amaranth and gluten free recipes! MissUsedXo.tumblr

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