The amaranth plant was an important crop for the Aztecs and other indigenous peoples, who used it for food and medicine. Today, amaranth flour is used as a gluten-free alternative to wheat flour and is prized for its unique nutritional benefits and versatile uses. But what exactly is it?
In this article, we’ll explore everything you need to know about amaranth flour, from how it’s made to its potential health benefits and how to use it in your favorite recipes!
What is amaranth flour?
Amaranth flour is a type of flour made from the seeds of the amaranth plant, which is native to Central and South America and has been cultivated for thousands of years. Amaranth is considered a “pseudocereal” – non-grass species that we use like grains due to their starchy seeds.
To make amaranth flour commercially, the amaranth seeds are first cleaned and then ground into a fine powder using a special mill. The resulting flour is then sifted to remove any larger pieces and ensure a smooth consistency.
The name “amaranth” comes from the Greek word “amarantos,” which means “never-fading” or “one that does not wither”. It was thought to be immortal because the plant’s flowers retain their bright red color even after they have been dried.
What’s the difference between amaranth flour and regular flour?
Amaranth flour is a whole-grain flour made from the seeds of the amaranth plant, whereas regular flour is typically made from enriched wheat. As a result, amaranth is a better source of fiber, protein, and nutrients overall.
The texture of baked goods made with amaranth flour can be denser and more crumbly than those made with regular flour, due to the absence of gluten. For more, see our blog comparing amaranth flour to all-purpose flour.
Benefits of amaranth flour
Amaranth flour is a great vegan and gluten-free alternative to regular wheat flour that doesn’t contain any of the common food allergens. Amaranth flour is a fantastic source of protein, particularly in the amino acid, lysine, which is lacking in many other grain flours!
It’s also packed with fiber and nutrients like iron, magnesium, and calcium. This can help support healthy digestion, boost energy levels, and keep you feeling full and satisfied for longer periods of time.
And let’s not forget about the flavor! Amaranth flour has a delicious, nutty taste that can add a unique depth of flavor to all kinds of baked goods, from breads and muffins to cakes and cookies.
Amaranth flour nutrition facts
|Flour (¼ cup)||Calories||Carbs||Fiber||Sugar||Fat||Protein||Glycemic Index|
|Amaranth flour||140||25 g||4 g||1 g||2 g||5 g||Approx. 107|
|All-purpose flour||120||24 g||1 g||0 g||0.5 g||4 g||85|
How to bake and cook with amaranth flour
Amaranth flour is not a direct substitute for all-purpose flour. This is because it lacks gluten, absorbs more liquid, and has a distinct, nutty flavor that can be quite strong.
In my experience, it’s best to start by baking with a smaller amount of amaranth flour. Mix about 25% amaranth flour with 75% almond flour or another type of gluten-free flour, such as rice flour or tapioca flour.
For non-gluten-free baking, simply replace 25% of your recipe’s wheat flour with amaranth flour to boost iron, protein, and fiber content!
In cooking, amaranth flour can be used as a thickener for soups, stews, and sauces, as a coating for fried foods, or even gluten-free pasta!
Popular amaranth flour baked goods and dishes
Amaranth flour is best used with other gluten-free flours or wheat flour to make a variety of products such as:
- Muffins and pancakes
- Crackers and breadsticks
- Pizza crust
- Tortillas and wraps
- Energy bars and granola bars
- Fried chicken or fish coating
- Soups, stews, and sauces as a thickener
- Gluten-free pasta
- Cakes, cookies, and other desserts
How to make amaranth flour at home
Making your own amaranth flour at home is a great way to ensure that it’s fresh and free from any additives or preservatives!
Here’s a simple recipe using whole amaranth seeds:
- Spread the amaranth seeds out in a single layer on a baking sheet.
- Roast the amaranth seeds in the oven for 10-15 minutes, or until they are lightly golden brown and fragrant. Keep an eye on them to make sure they don’t burn.
- Remove the baking sheet from the oven and let the seeds cool completely.
- Once the seeds are cool, transfer them to a high-powered blender or food processor.
- Blend the seeds on high until they are finely ground and resemble a flour-like consistency.
- Sift the ground amaranth flour through a fine-mesh sieve to remove any larger pieces that didn’t get ground up.
How to store amaranth flour
Both store-bought and homemade amaranth flour should be stored in an airtight container in a cool, dry place, such as a pantry or cupboard.
Store-bought amaranth flour lasts for about 4-6 months, or by the “best-before” date on the package. Homemade amaranth flour can last for several months if stored properly, but it’s best to use it within a few weeks for optimal freshness.
What are the best substitutes for amaranth flour?
Quinoa flour is the best substitute for amaranth flour, as they are both made from seeds and have a similar nutty flavor profile and texture. Quinoa flour is also widely available in many grocery stores and health food shops if you can’t find amaranth flour.
Of course, the best substitute ultimately depends on the specific recipe and your dietary needs. Another strong contender is whole-wheat flour, which is a more budget-friendly option that’s easy to bake with, but it’s not gluten-free. Barley flour is also a great option, and probably has the closest flavor profile to amaranth flour.
Amaranth flour is made by grinding the seeds of the amaranth plant.
Amaranth flour is better in the sense that it’s gluten-free and higher in protein and fiber, while wheat flour is more widely available and easier to work with in traditional baking recipes. So, it really depends on your needs!
Amaranth flour has a slightly nutty and earthy flavor, with a hint of sweetness. Some people also describe it as having a slightly grassy or herbaceous taste. The flavor can also vary depending on the quality of the flour.