According to international statistics, amaranth as a vegetable is practically not grown on an industrial scale. Books that highlight the diversity and use of food plants, even those related specifically to vegetables, most often ignore it or mention it very briefly. Not surprisingly, researchers who are dedicated to improving global food supplies pay little attention to this plant. Indeed, most of them may have never heard of vegetable amaranth.
Of the more than fifty species of amaranth, many are eaten in tropical and temperate latitudes, but only about a dozen can be considered domesticated.
Amaranth is popular in Africa. However, if the harvest of amaranth leaves seems imperceptible on a global scale, it is only because it is hidden from view. In at least fifty tropical countries, amaranth vegetable species are grown in quantities that are far from small. For example, along the wet lowlands of Africa and Asia, dishes from the boiled greens of this plant are widespread. In season, amaranth leaves provide the daily protein rate of some African societies by as much as 25%. In some parts of West Africa, tender young shoots with roots are sold on urban markets in thousands of tons per year.
Mild taste, good yield, high nutritional value, the ability to withstand a hot climate made amaranth very popular in Africa. In terms of flavor, nutritional value, and suitability for agriculture, it is the best of all tropical greenery. A full review of the native products of southern Africa, for example, clearly outlines the status of this plant: “Of all the wild edible plants in southern Africa, few, if any, are so well known and are widely used as amaranth.”
Probably the most widely consumed boiled amaranth greens in the humid lowlands of Africa. The leaves and stems of this plant are great for cooking. They have a delicate texture, mild taste, and have no traces of bitterness.
Amaranth Green Amaranth is one of the few genera, whose species were domesticated both in the Old and in the New World. It was used as fresh greens and boiled not only in Africa, but also in Asia, North and South America.
In China and Southeast Asia – a region famous for the quality of vegetables, one type of amaranth – Chinese spinach, is recognized as one of the best vegetable crops. Farmers in Hong Kong, for example, grow at least six varieties of it: with pointed, serrated, round, red, white, green leaves. In Taiwan, cultivated a variety of “tiger leaf” with green leaves with a red stripe in the center. In addition, Chinese farmers grow about 40 hectares of amaranth for pigs per year.
Over the past two decades, amaranth began to grow a much larger number of farmers around the world: in China, Russia, parts of Eastern Europe, South America, it reappeared in Mexico.
Mexican children eat amaranth in Mexico. It is traditionally used as a combination of amaranth popcorn with molasses or honey.
Amaranth is an important vegetable crop for many small farmers in the world. It is also called “food of the poor”, because it really saves many poor nations from hunger. For example, in the last decade, projects Puente a la Salud Comunitaria A.C. have been operating in Mexico and Tanzania. and Amaranth: Future-Food, aimed at supporting the cultivation of amaranth by small farmers, not only to improve the nutrition of their families, but also the possibility of obtaining stable and high profits.
In the Caribbean, amaranth leaves are an important part of traditional Caribbean cuisine, especially in the famous dish called “Callaloo”. This delicate vegetable stew is central to the diet of the locals and has become almost synonymous with Caribbean. CallalooWord enters everyday speech as a term denoting a unique blend of food, language, music and peoples – components of the Creole culture. The word “Callaloo” refers to restaurants, magazines, shows, songs, groups, books.
Different countries in the Caribbean are made from amaranth leaves and other plants. And in Jamaica, Belize and Ghana, the word “Callaloo” is used to refer to the actual amaranth, which is a component of many traditional dishes, as well as “Callaloo juice”.
In the US, amaranth was grown as a grain crop in the late 1970s. Despite the fact that the area of its crops is only a few thousand hectares every year, the processed products of this plant are present in all departments of healthy food grocery stores.
Interestingly, during the tastings of the US Department of Agriculture, most of the 60 participants said that the prepared amaranth leaves tasted as good as spinach. Some compared the taste of leaves with the taste of artichoke.
Jamaican “Callaloo Juice”
- 1 bundle of amaranth (about 12 stems)
- a piece of ginger (grated)
- 2-3 cups of water
- sugar to taste
Remove thin film from amaranth stems.
Rinse thoroughly in salted water; Rinse again in clean water.
Finely chop the amaranth.
Mix it in a blender with water and ginger until smooth. If the mass is too thick, you can add water.
Sweeten with sugar to taste.
Instead of ginger, you can use the juice of one lime.