Monday, 26 November 2012

Processing my Quinoa Harvest

In mid-October I harvested the seed heads of my quinoa crop and laid them out on newspaper in a couple of crates, turning them every so often so the air could circulate around them, drying them out in preparation for separating the grain.

Because of the wet weather this year, and because I've never grown quinoa before, I was unsure whether I would get a reasonable amount of grain or not. By rubbing some of the seed heads between my fingers I knew that some seed had formed, but today I decided to start processing the grain to find out how much was there. The stems had dried out reasonably well, but some were starting to show mould so I didn't want to wait any longer.

The seeds are held inside the spent flower buds, so all I had to do was rub the seed heads between my hands, releasing the seeds and other dried bits from the stems. I did this as thoroughly as possible to ensure that I got as much grain as I could, so it took a bit of time. I collected the seeds, leaves and bits of flower bud in newspaper in a crate.

The next step was to sieve the material to remove the larger pieces of chaff, but I kept these for further drying and will re-sieve them in a few days to see if any more seed is present.

I was left with a reasonable amount of grain (it shows up yellow in the photograph below), mixed with smaller pieces of chaff.

The next step will be to winnow out the remaining chaff, which will involve pouring the seed and chaff from one bucket into another in a breeze, so that the seed falls into the bucket and the chaff blows away  (according to instructions from The Real Seed Catalogue). I will blog about it once I've done it!

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