“Buckwheat, are you sure that’s gluten free?”
What is Buckwheat?
Buckwheat is actually a seed from a plant related to rhubarb. Despite the “wheat” in the name, it is gluten free. This means those with gluten intolerance and celiac disease can eat this safely.
Fighting to find gluten free nutrition alternatives to wheat is difficult. Wheat contains a higher mineral content than buckwheat and most other gluten free alternatives. However, Buckwheat is on the higher end of the scale; being more nutritionally dense with “important minerals than rice, sorghum, millet and maize”(Saturni, L.; Ferretti, G.; Bacchetti,). It is also high in fiber and protein!
The Buckwheat Flavor:
The one thing I noticed about buckwheat initially was it’s distinct taste. It has an interesting nutty flavor to it. Some people love the taste immediately, others have to get used to it. Food pairing helps with tremendously. I have noticed personally that Buckwheat synergises excellently with chocolate, peanut butter, and fruit (particularly bananas and strawberries). This makes it a great choice to bake with. Check out my recipe for Pumpkin Pie made partially from Buckwheat flour.
Don’t like the flavor much? Mixing flours is the key to excellent gluten free baking! Through trial and error, I found the best mixture is: Buckwheat Flour, Rice Flour, and Sweet Rice Flour (Also known as “Sticky Rice” and “Glutinous Rice”. I mix equal parts Buckwheat and Rice flour, with about 10-20% of the mixture being Sweet Rice Flour. This hides the taste of the Buckwheat and allows the texture to be incredibly “glutenous” without containing any gluten! There are many alternatives to mixing flours. Please share your creations below! I have also found the potato starch and coconut flour add an interesting quality to the mixture. I tend to avoid pea and fava bean flour, as the taste of the batter becomes unpleasant, even with the slightest amount added.
Where can you get it?
Where can you get it? Most of the time I can find it at a common grocery store (Giant Eagle, Publix, Kroger…). It will be hidden in the “gluten free” section of the store, if you have one. If not, check the flour aisle. You can also find it at specialty stores like Whole Food, Fresh Market, and Earth Fare. Don’t forget to check your Asian markets too. They tend to have a good price on Buckwheat Flour, as well as Sweet Rice Flour and Rice Flour.
If you like online shopping, check out the link below.
Please Note: Be sure to check your ingredients on anything labeled “Buckwheat”! I have found premixed Buckwheat mixture with wheat flour and other ingredients I do not tolerate well included. It is also common to find Buckwheat noodles mixed with wheat flour. Always check your ingredients!
Experiment and Enjoy!
Saturni, L.; Ferretti, G.; Bacchetti, T. The Gluten-Free Diet: Safety and Nutritional Quality. Nutrients 2010, 2, 16-34.