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Healthy Living on July 23, 2014 by

What is it? Wednesday: Buckwheat

What is it? Buckwheat is a plant related to rhubarb, with no relation, whatsoever, to wheat. Buckwheat is technically a fruit, though it is widely considered to be a grain. The dark, pyramid-shaped kernels of the buckwheat plant are harvested, then split and the pale fruit is what we know and love as buckwheat. The whole kernel (with the husk intact) can be ground into flour, which has the dark color so commonly seen in buckwheat pancakes and blini. In fact, most buckwheat flour is ground with extra husks to give it that deep, dark color.

For the longest time, I was under the impression that the name buckwheat must have come from a relationship with wheat. I knew they weren’t related, but I thought maybe it was called buckwheat because it was a replacement for wheat or that it looked like wheat when it grew. Neither of those things is true. It’s name actually comes from the seed’s similarity to the seed of the Beech tree. In fact, it was sometimes called “beech wheat” because of this similarity in the seed shape. How we got to “buckwheat” is still beyond me, but, suffice to say, it’s not because it’s related to wheat.

Buckwheat has long been a staple in Asia and eastern Europe- being used for everything from noodles in China and Japan to kasha varnishkes and blini in Russia. In the United States, we often see buckwheat in pancake form or stuffed into pillows for “the perfect night’s sleep”. Clearly, it’s versatile. It’s also supremely nutritious and wonderfully flavorful with a unique nuttiness you won’t get from any other grain.

The buckwheat plant | Bob's Red Mill
Is it gluten free? Yes, buckwheat is inherently gluten free. However, buckwheat is a crop that is often transported with trucks that carry wheat. Some of our buckwheat products display a gluten free symbol and some do not. If this is a concern for you, be sure to find our gluten free symbol on the package before consuming.

Is it whole grain? Yes, despite its taxonomy, buckwheat is considered to be a whole grain by both the Whole Grains Council and the USDA.

What makes it so nutritious? Buckwheat contains all 8 essential amino acids, classifying it as a complete protein. It is also high in fiber and delivers a healthy amount of manganese, magnesium, copper and zinc, all of which support the immune system.

What is the difference between whole buckwheat groats and kasha? Kasha is simply buckwheat groats that have been roasted. You can easily make your own kasha from raw buckwheat groats in your oven. The roasting brings out the nutty flavor of buckwheat beautifully.

What is it? Wednesday: Buckwheat | Bob's Red Mill

How do you use it? One of the best things about buckwheat is that it cooks in just 10 minutes and can be added to almost anything. It’s incredibly versatile. We’ve tried it in salads, soups and pilafs, as well as granola (recipe coming soon) and as a hot cereal. Buckwheat has a strong flavor, but don’t let that stop you. That flavor can go with sweet as easily as it can go with savory.

Recipes to inspire you:

Comments

I love buckwheat! It’s one of my favorite flours. Thank goodness it’s not a wheat! I was wondering, is Bob’s Red Mill buckwheat flour and buckwheat groats raw? If not, I’d like to know what temperatures is it heated to?

Thank you.

Yes, they are both raw.

That’s great to know. i’m a Bob’s Red Mill buckwheat fan 🙂 Can you please explain why Bob’s buckwheat groats are called creamy buckwheat? Also, do you have to soak the groats in water before eating/using them? It doesn’t say on the package of bob’s groats, and i’ve heard that buckwheat groats should be soaked to release enzyme inhibitors. Is this necessary with Bob’s groats? Thank you.

Miliany,

Our buckwheat groats and creamy buckwheat cereal are two different products. The cereal has a creamy texture and is made from buckwheat that has been cracked and ground. You do not need to soak our groats before eating, but we do not know much about the enzyme inhibitors. If it makes you more comfortable to soak them first, please do so.

Remy says:

Hello, can I make flour that is similar to Bobs creamy buckwheat flour if I grind up or pulverise my roasted buckwheat (kasha)?

Yes, it would be close, but it will not be as dark (our flour has extra hulls added) and it will have a slightly roasted flavor, since kasha is roasted. Should be a pretty solid replacement, though.

Tish says:

Hello,

I absolutely love Bob’s Red Mill Creamy Buckwheat! It would be a staple in my home except that I cannot always find it in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.

Can I make creamy buckwheat by grinding down Bob’s Red Mill buckwheat groats? Are there any retailers in my City that regularly carry this product? It seems very hit and miss, and I will typically buy all that a Store has and they will not replenish the stock on this product.

Cheers,
Tish

Tish,

Thank you so much! I’m not sure if you could make it at home, but you could try. The groats are not very well distributed so I am not surprised to hear they’re hard to find. Your best bet is to put in a product request with your favorite retailer.

Sahar Nasser says:

Hello
I wanted to ask if I need to soak creamy buckwheat and drying it before grinding into a flour. I want to use it to make bread.

No, to grind it into flour it does not need to be soaked and dried. You can just grind it as is.

Sahar Nasser says:

Okay thank you:)

Hussain says:

Hi, do you think your cream of buckwheat can be used to make overnight porridge?

We think that would work, but we haven’t tried it.

Eric Brown says:

Hi, I’m wondering what’s done to buckwheat to dehull it. Is the grain heated or processed in any way in order to remove the hull?

We use our millstones to de-hull the buckwheat. It’s not heated or treated with any chemicals.

Tim says:

To be clear, buckwheat flour is made from ground whole buckwheat with the hull and more hull added? “In fact, most buckwheat flour is ground with extra husks to give it that deep, dark color.”
BTW, despite the common meaning of kasha in English language, according to the excellent translation of Russian classic book about food and cooking, Molokhovets’ Gift to Young Housewives, in Medieval Russia kasha meant feast and to the present day means the equivalent of porridge made from any variety of grains.

Yes, that is correct- our buckwheat flour has hulls added back in to give it the dark, rich color and flavor.

Nikhil Dave says:

Hi Cassidy,

It appears that you have changed the labeling on the buckwheat hot cereal? For example, an older bag I have claims 5 g protein per 140 cal, new bag 3 g per 140. Why the change, and which is more accurate? Also older bag mentioned complete protein, lysine, magnesium. Reason that it was dropped in new one? Love the product! Thx

Yes, the label was updated to reflect the most accurate information possible. We had our buckwheat analyzed and found that the old labels were no longer accurate. The other nutrients were dropped from the label to comply with government regulations. Rest assured, buckwheat is still a complete protein and does offer a good source of magnesium and, as a complete protein, does contain lysine.

Matt says:

I recently rediscovered toasted buckwheat (kasha) and love its deep, nutty flavor. I like to just eat the kernels as-is straight from the bag and use them as garnish. Is this safe? They have such an excellent crunch!

Yes, you can eat these straight from the bag.

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