I wanted to cook some amaranth grains. The back of the package said to cook 1 part amaranth and 3 parts water until soft, then let them soak for another 30 minutes. I ended up with amaranth soup.

Let's say that I want a very basic preparation of amaranth. What is the correct way to cook it?

  • what is a good ratio of amaranth to water?
  • should I cook it with the lid on or without (don't laugh, I have found often enough that it affects both the water ratio and cooking time)?
  • should I salt before or after cooking, and why?
  • should I add fat before or after cooking, and why?
  • is there a better way to recognize that it is done that "it is soft"?
  • should I soak before cooking, after cooking, or not at all?
  • is there something important about cooking amaranth I forgot to mention in the list?

I don't want a specific recipe, just a basic preparation which can be later extended to fit different recipes (savory or sweet). If you have specific recommendations for doing X, I'd love to hear why doing X is better than doing Y.

  • This is not what you want, but it is great! heat a pan very hot, then add a couple of tablespoons of amaranth, shake it while partly covered with a paper plate, and you have popped amaranth- delicious! – user23223 Feb 15 '14 at 15:08

The basic cooking technique is the same for whole amaranth as for many other whole grains (e.g., barley) and grain-like seeds (e.g., quinoa): bring water to a boil, add the grain, simmer uncovered on low until the grain has reached the consistency you desire (that is the only true definition of "done" -- never be afraid to taste your food as you go!), then let cool. Even when packaging suggest soaking, I do not soak my grains and I have never had any problems. OF course, others will insist soaking is necessary. My advice, if you are concerned: try it both ways and see which you prefer.

For each part of whole amaranth, here is the proportion of water: -- porridge consistency, 3 parts water (some liquid will remain) -- soft texture but with distinct grains, 2 parts water -- firm texture (pilaf), 1 part water

If the water has nearly all cooked off but you want a softer texture, add extra water and keep cooking. If you are not sure what consistency you want, err on the firmer side, and taste as you go. Note that larger batches (say, over 1/2-kilo of grain) need less water than smaller batches, so plan accordingly.

Adding salt to the water at the start is optional but I encourage it. The point of adding it early is to incorporate the salt into the grains evenly. Under-salting will mute the flavors substantially. Adding salt at the last minute will provide a burst of salt on the tongue that is not always pleasant or desired, especially if you serve the grain with some other moderately salty food.

As for fat, I don't add any because I usually serve the amaranth with something that is already fatty (like an enriched sauce). If you want to add a fat, then I would do so before the water has completely cooked off to ensure the fat coats the grains more or less evenly.

Oh, and I love using an automatic rice-cooker for my grains, as it automatically turns off when the temperature of the food rises substantially above 100 C (meaning all the water has cooked off).

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    The point of soaking is to make it more digestible. Seeds have enzymes that keep them from sprouting. These enzymes make it hard to digest the seed. However, once the seed is soaked in water, the enzymes are deactivated - making it both sproutable and digestible! I have found that I don't digest amaranth if I don't soak it first. – user17786 Apr 11 '13 at 15:05

Like quinoa and buckwheat, amaranth is a pseudocereal. (True cereals are grasses; amaranth isn't.) What I find helpful when cooking with amaranth is to think of it as quinoa or rice to speak.

  1. the good ratio of Amaranth to water is 1(amaranth)to 2(water).
  2. While cooking, do not cover until 90% of the water(stock) is absorbed, then cover with lid, and let it steam just like you cook rice. amaranth needs to steam on medium-low heat, after absorbing the water or it won't be fluffy.
  3. salt before the cooking because it has a very flat taste and we need to flavor it to its core right from beginning.
  4. pour oil before the cooking in the liquid to create a smooth texture.
  5. Also you know it is done when it is tripled in size
  6. you really don't need to soak it, but if you do, half and hour is good.
  7. Yes! A) Never put amaranth in a boiling water or broth. start cooking it in a lukewarm or room temperature liquids and let amaranth come to development along with the water.B)Rinse this grain real well before cooking C) Do not rush through its cooking time. it needs to cook on medium-heat and it will take 35 minutes combined even for one cup of Amaranth!!!(yup I know!) your alternative to Amaranth will be Quinoa which is way easier to handle and makes steady results every time.
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    Anything is considered a weed if it's growing where you don't want it to. – SourDoh Feb 1 '14 at 16:30
  • Indeed, what people think of it as doesn't really have any bearing on how to cook it. Also, while you're welcome to link to specific blog posts if they help answer the question, a quinoa recipe doesn't help answer a question about the basics of cooking amaranth, and you've just linked to the main page, not a specific recipe, so I'm going to go ahead and edit your answer. – Cascabel Feb 16 '14 at 5:30
  • Wow thanks - Why did I buy Amaranth. I have something like a sludge in my saucepan and I don't fancy doing anything with it except throw it away. I thought I might be improving on Quinoa - so much for ignorance. Thanks for your advice. – user23861 Mar 18 '14 at 17:31
  • @DavidParsley Calling it a weed is unnecessarily negative. It's perfectly good to eat. As sourd'oh said, people call it a weed because it grows where they don't want it to - plenty of commonly eaten crops will do the same if given the chance. – Cascabel Mar 18 '14 at 18:13
  • Sarineh, I've edited this to avoid further confusion. – Cascabel Mar 18 '14 at 18:18

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