Have you ever smelled a field of buckwheat in full blossom? It has an earthy-sweet, distinctive smell. When travelling passed a field of buckwheat, do yourself a favour and stop to savor the aroma and the sight of it for a few moments.
Bees have a particular fondness for buckwheat, which is actually a fruit seed. The honey they make from buckwheat flowers looks blackish but if you hold a jar of it up to the light, you will see that it is actually a rich mahogany color, and full of healthy goodness.
Although buckwheat remains have been found in China and Japan that go back to 4000 BC, this is around the same time it was documented in Europe as well. It’s difficult to prove but there is some belief that domestication and cultivation of buckwheat might go all the way back to 6000 BC!
Whatever the origins, it stands that buckwheat is naturally gluten-free, has a high protein content, has all essential amino acids and is especially high in Lysine, Tryptophan and Arginine (of particular important since the body cannot produce essential amino acids on its own and depends entirely on food sources to get them).
Although buckwheat is really the seed of a flower, in culinary terms it should be considered a grain, and therefore to be cooked and prepared in the same manner as other whole grains, such as quinoa, brown rice and barley.
As with many foods that have a long history as “peasant food” Buckwheat is highly nutritious and can be made into sustaining foods that are very satisfying and delicious. Many cultures use buckwheat in varying preparations, from the buckwheat noodles of Japan and Korea, (Soba) to European buckwheat pancakes, and the many Eastern European dishes which use buckwheat in its their most simple form – wholegrains made into porridges (kasha) or grain dishes.
Here’s a recipe we are particularly fond of. It is a little time consuming but definitely worth the effort:
Old-Fashioned Buckwheat Sour Cakes