Make Your Own Instant Quinoa

I stumbled across this method of making an instant version of healthy quinoa grain when I was trying out my new grain mill. In order to mill quinoa into flour, you first have to wash it. Quinoa has a coating of bitter saponins, which protects the plant from insects and birds. But these saponins also make the grain basically inedible, until it is washed off. The best way to wash quinoa, in my experience, is to first rinse it under running tap water, and then heat it in an excess of water. The hot water is more effective than rinsing at taking away any residual saponins.

But when I did this second step, I ended up cooking the grain. Then it had to be dried so it could be run through the grain mill. I spread the washed and cooked quinoa on a large flat baking pan in an oven on low heat (225 degrees F). I also opened the oven periodically to let out the moisture in the air. The quinoa ends up crunchy and dry.

Then I milled some quinoa flour, which was a very fine light flour with a fresh smell. But I wondered if I could reconstitute the unmilled quinoa with just hot water, or perhaps even cold water. I tried both. Using room temperature bottled water did not work well. After 15 minutes, the quinoa absorbed some of the water, but it was too firm, a little crunchy, and not really edible. Heating this failed mixture in the microwave for 3 minutes solved the problem. Delicious.

Another attempt used room temperature bottled water (1.25 cups) to one cup (120 g or 4.25 oz) of quinoa, and one hour of time. This resulted in a food that was edible, but not as palatable as with boiling water. The quinoa was still not quite the right texture. But this approach would be fine in a pinch.

I also tried using boiling hot water from the microwave. I poured the hot water into a cup of the precooked and dried quinoa. In 5 minutes, it was ready to eat. I would recommend 1-1/4 cups of water to 1 cup instant quinoa. Using either method, adding boiling water or microwaving the quinoa with the water, resulted in a food that was indistinguishable from fresh-cooked quinoa.

I’m a big fan of quinoa. If quinoa had a Twitter account, I’d be a follower. If it had a Facebook page, I would friend it. If it had a smart phone, I would play ‘Words With Friends’ with it. Big fan.

Quinoa is high in protein at 14%, which is almost double the protein of long-grain white rice. Unlike wheat, rice, and corn, quinoa is high in lysine and has all essential amino acids in ideal proportions. Here’s a comparison of essential amino acids in several grains and quinoa. The number given is the percent of the ideal proportion for each amino acid compared to the Institute of Medicine’s (IOM) idea values. So anything at or over 1.00 has 100% of the IOM ideal value.

Quinoa is easy to grow and harvest. After harvesting, it does not need hulling, which is difficult and time-consuming on a small scale. There are no hulls. You just wash the grain and cook. It is a great survival food for the garden and for the storage pantry.

This instant version of quinoa is very convenient. You can take it with you if you go camping or if you bug-out. As a dry pre-cooked grain, similar to couscous or instant rice, it should keep fairly well in storage. I will definitely be making more instant quinoa. Here’s a photo of one of my quinoa meals, with peas, tomato, and chicken added:

– Thoreau

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