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