Quinoa and amaranth are two high protein seed crops from South America. Amaranth requires a warm summer but quinoa is happy even in the most miserable Irish summer.
Sow in April, thinly, in rows 30cm apart. Keep well weeded. Thin the seedlings, until there is at least 10cm between plants. The crop should be harvested when the plants have begun to turn yellow and the seeds emerge from the heads when rubbed. This will be sometime in September. The plants should then be cut at the base, and bundled into sheaves.
Drying should be completed under cover. If mature plants are left outdoors in damp weather the seeds may sprout in the heads. When fully dry, the seeds can be threshed out by running the plants through a garden shredder, or by banging them on the edge of a bucket or barrel.
They then need to be winnowed in a stiff breeze to remove debris. The bitter seed coat must be removed before eating. This can be done by a combination of toasting on a dry frying pan, rubbing gently, soaking in a solution of breadsoda, and by rincing in clean water several times during cooking. Quinoa and amaranth can be eaten in the same way as rice or combined with other ingredients to make soups bakes and burgers.