by Cat, Nov 2011 (photo from SproutPeople.org)
- Buckwheat: Basic cooking
- Kasha Porridge
- Sprouted buckwheat (kasha) granola
- “Buckwheaties” (sprouted and dried kasha cold cereal)
- Kasha pilaf
- Kasha pilaf with Middle-Eastern flavors
- Russian kasha
- Soba noodles
- Buckwheat crêpes (Gallettes de Sarrasin)
This article includes:
- An introduction to buckwheat and kasha, and
- Instructions for sprouting and drying buckwheat to make kasha.
See also: 1. Buckwheat: Basic cooking; 2. Kasha Porridge; 3. Sprouted buckwheat (kasha) granola; 4. “Buckwheaties” (sprouted and dried kasha cold cereal); 5, Kasha pilaf; 6. Kasha pilaf with Middle-Eastern flavors; 7. Russian kasha; 8. Soba noodles; 9. Buckwheat crêpes (Gallettes de Sarrasin)
Buckwheat and Kasha
On this site, I refer to ‘buckwheat’ when I mean the raw grain (not toasted or roasted), but may be cooked; and to ‘kasha’ when I mean the sprouted or toasted/roasted grain. The Nourishing Traditions recipe for kasha is sprouted and dried, rather than toasted/roasted, and is thus more healthful; my adaptation of her method is included below.
Of course, buckwheat/kasha is not a true grain but is classified as a pseudo-grain, because it contains no gluten. Both buckwheat and kasha can be ground into flour (see Flours & Starches: Gluten Free).
In my quest to eliminate or at least minimize wheat in my diet, I’m looking at buckwheat. Although it contains no gluten, it does contain other potential allergens, so be allert to allergy symptoms. It has many health benefits (see WHFoods: Buckwheat (1) and WHFoods In-Depth Nutrient Analysis: Buckwheat (2)), but the one that stands out for me is that it improves blood sugar control and insulin sensitivity, and can be useful for treatment of people with PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome), which is related to insulin resistance. The component believed to be effective here is chiro-inositol.
Buckwheat provides a fair amount of magnesium (86 mg in a one-cup serving), a mineral that I need to supplement, for several reasons, including my desire to improve insulin sensitivity. Magnesium relaxes blood vessels, improving blood flow and nutrient delivery. Combine this with rutin, a flavonoid in buckwheat which keeps platelets from clotting excessively, and you have a good recipe for a healthy circulatory system! (1)
Buckwheat also contains all 8 essential amino acids, and those containing sulfur.
I love it in those savory sarrasin crêpes from Brittany, or old fashioned buckwheat pancakes, and use it as a substitute for bulgur in pilaf (both bulgur and kasha are made by sprouting, toasting or roasting the grain). I use Bob’s Red Mill Kasha (available at iHerb as product code BRM-02419) when I don’t have time to sprout and dry the groats. They also carry the raw groats as product code BRM-00580).
Soba noodles from Japan are made with buckwheat flour. I’ve never made my own noodles, and I understand soba are hard to make. If I get serious about going wheat-free, I may try them, but I’ll have to come up with a substitute for the small amount of wheat flour in the recipe.
The roasting of the groat puzzles me because, in general, heat treatments damage the nutritional value of foods. Sally Fallon in her book Nourishing Traditions, recommends sprouting of the raw groat to make kasha, instead of roasting, followed by a light toasting if desired. But I could not find un-roasted buckwheat at the store…(Bob’s Red Mill does sell the raw buckwheat groats (7))
Kasha (Sprouted & Dried Buckwheat)
These instructions are from Nourishing Traditions, by Sally Fallon with Mary G. Enig, PhD.. Commercial kasha, such as from Bob’s Red Mill, is not sprouted but roasted. While roasting does ‘pre-digest’ the groat, I’m wary of heat treatment of raw foods, so much prefer sprouting, which also ‘pre-digests’ the groat and also increases its nutrient content at the same time.
After dehydrating, you can toast if you wish, or use as is in any Kasha recipe. OR grind into flour.
Ingredients & Equipment:
- 3 cups raw buckwheat groats (makes 4 cups kasha)
- 2 jars with sprouting screens
- cookie sheet(s)
- Divide groats between 2 quart jars. Add filtered water to the top of each jar, cover jar with sprouting screen, and let rest on counter, covered with a cloth, overnight.
- Beginning with the next morning, rinse twice daily for 2 days. The buckwheat can get slimy like flax seeds, when mixed with the water for sprouting, so you need to rinse it really well (5 times or so) for each rinse/drain cycle, and before dehydrating.
- Drain well and spread sprouts on cookie sheet to dehydrate in oven at 150° F for 6-10 hours (overnight is good)- til really dry and crispy. OR use a dehydrator.
To toast the sprouted and dried kasha:
- Heat a dry, heavy cast-iron skillet, add kasha and cook, stirring, about 5 minutes, until toasted.
- quotes about buckwheat: www.naturalpedia.com/Kasha.html
- Bob’s Red Mill product: raw buckwheat groats: (link removed at their request)