Despite its name Buckwheat is is not actually related to wheat. It’s a seed not a grass or a legume, and is botanically related to rhubarb. Because its seeds are eaten it is referred to as a pseudocereal.
Buckwheat returns nitrogen to the soil therefore organic farmers often use it as a green manure crop rotating it with cereal grains like wheat.
The starchy endosperm is white and makes up most or all of buckwheat flour. The seed coat is greenish tan, which darkens buckwheat flour. The hull is dark brown or black, and some may be included in buckwheat flour as dark specks. It gives a delicious and distinctive flavour to sweet and savoury baking.
Buckwheat (Fagopyrum esculentum) is thought to have originated in China,
The wild ancestor is common in Yunnan, south west China, where domestication most likely took place around 6000BCE. From here it spread to central Asia and Tibet then to Middle East. It appeared in Japan as early as 3000BCE.
Some say it was brought to Western Europe by the Tartars and the Turks, however archeology documents it in Finland as early as 5300 BCE and the Balkans by 4000BCE. The Byzantine Greeks are credited for introducing it to Russia where it is still a staple grain.
While it supplies all essential amino acids, buckwheat only has around 7 grams of protein, which is half the protein content of many grains and one-third the protein content of legumes.
It has above-average amounts of iron and phosphorus as well as other minerals such as tin, silicic acid, potassium, calcium and magnesium. There is also vitamins B1, B2, best accessed via eating the sprouted grains.
Buckwheat is the best natural source of rutin, one of the bioflavonoids, which has remarkable curative abilities for cases of hardened arteries, varicose veins, poor blood circulation and certain weak heart conditions and arteriosclerosis.
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