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How To Harvest Quinoa In 10 Easy & Simple Steps

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Quinoa is a grain-like crop, so it can be a good substitute for a homesteader looking to transition from growing wheat. It’s similar to wheat in that it has a shorter growing season.

Being a superfood, Quinoa can be grown by most homesteaders. It won’t produce huge amounts of Quinoa unless you have a good amount of area to dedicate to growing it.

However, because Quinoa isn’t usually the primary dish, a little plot will be ideal for individuals seeking the healthiest Quinoa available from the land. Continue reading to learn how to harvest Quinoa.

Quinoa is a simple plant to grow. It is a resilient plant that prefers temperatures below 90 degrees Fahrenheit and above freezing.

This makes it ideal for planting in the spring and harvesting in the fall. But how can you tell when the Quinoa is ready to be harvested?

Simply looking at the plant will tell you how close it is to reaching maturity. The leaves will begin to turn yellow and crimson and fall off.

The seeds will harden to the point where pressing them between your fingertips won’t make a dent. Your Quinoa is ready to pick when it reaches that point. This usually happens shortly after the season’s first frost.

However, if you anticipate wet weather that will reduce crop output, harvest early and dry indoors away from the elements.

Quinoa before flowering How To Harvest Quinoa
Quinoa before flowering via Flickr

Steps on How To Harvest Quinoa

Step 1

Take visual cues from the quinoa plant. When the quinoa seeds are ready to be harvested, the leaves fall from the plant and transform from green to red or yellow. The seeds aren’t usually ready until after the first frost.

Step 2

Prepare your tools. You will need a shovel or pitchfork, a bag to hold the quinoa seeds, and a dried area that is free from moisture to lay your seeds to dry in.

Step 3

Turn your quinoa plant over so it is lying prostrate on the ground. Use the sharp edge of your tool to cut the Quinoa from its root.

Remove one seed head from a quinoa plant, leaving a few inches of stem intact. To complete the work, use pruning shears. Carry on with the technique with the remaining seed heads.

Step 4

Cut a strand of thread and attach it to one of the seed heads’ stalks. The other end of the twine should be tied to a wire hanger or a hook. Carry on with the leftover seed heads to complete the tasks.

Step 5

Hang the quinoa seed heads somewhere dry, like a cellar, garage, or shed. Allow one week for the quinoa seeds to dry. When a seed head almost crumbles when touched, the seeds are ready.

Drying quinoa near Puno How To Harvest Quinoa
“Drying quinoa near Puno” via Wikimedia

Step 6

Wear a pair of rubber gloves to protect your hands. Remove one seed head from the wire hanger or hook and place it in a shallow tray or box.

Swipe your palm across the seed head, beginning at the bottom and working your way up. Seeds should easily fall into the tray or box from the seed head.

Using the same method, remove seeds from other seed heads. You can also smack the seed heads in a bucket or paper yard trash bag. These are ideal for catching all of the seeds and chaff when separated from the seed heads.

Step 7

Take the quinoa seed tray or box outside. Using a hairdryer on the cool setting, blow the chaff and other debris away from the seeds. The chaff is light enough that the hairdryer’s air should simply blow it away.

It can be a pain to separate the seeds from the chaff. On a windy day, it might be done simply by dumping the contents of one dish into another.

Because the chaff is lighter and less thick than the seeds, it will blow away when one bowl is emptied into another. This can easily be done indoors with a bed sheet and a table fan.

Pour the seeds from one dish to another in front of the fan, using the bed sheet to capture the chaff. The seeds should be free of chaff after five to seven “pours,” but you can repeat the process until you’re satisfied.

Step 8

Quinoa seeds are coated in saponin, a bitter chemical. To remove the saponin, they must be rinsed before being cooked. Rinse Quinoa in multiple bowls of cold water, as you would rice.

This will also release any leftover chaff particles. Fill a fine-mesh strainer halfway with quinoa seeds. Rinse the seed coverings in the sieve under cold, running water to remove harsh saponin chemicals.

Rinse the Quinoa until there are no more bubbles and the water running out of the strainer is clear. Before storing the seeds, spread them out on a flat surface to dry.

Step 9

Once your seeds have dried, look for any dirt particles or dead leaves. Remove them with a brush or a soft cloth. Then, using a food scale, determine how much you have.

This will let you know how many servings of Quinoa you can create with your harvest. Use a pasta mill or some other machine to grind the seeds into a fine powder for cooking and baking into Quinoa recipes!

Step 10

Store your fresh crop in a bag or other container and place it somewhere warm and dry to encourage seed germination. Dry Quinoa should be kept in an airtight container in a cool, dark place.

Limiting your raw Quinoa’s exposure to extreme heat, moisture, and UV radiation will keep it fresh for a long time. Quinoa can be stored in glass containers, such as Mason jars, for long.

If you wish to store your Quinoa for a long time, can it with oxygen absorbers or use Mylar bags.

Final Remarks

Quinoa is deserving of a place in your garden and pantry. It’s a nutrient-dense seed that can endure for years, allowing you to develop a long-term strategy for self-sufficiency on your property.

You can make a fresh, nutritious addition to any diet with a few simple steps. Quinoa may appear to be an unusual food to have on the farm, but the ease with which it can be grown and harvested makes it an excellent choice for the coming growing season.

You can cultivate enough Quinoa for your household and livestock as a supplement or alternative for costly grain-based food that you have to buy away from the homestead if you have enough area to dedicate to quinoa crops!

Quinoa requires temperatures lower than 25 ° C for good germination, so it is generally grown at high altitudes or in cool areas.

Harvesting quinoa does take time, but it is well worth the effort when you taste your home-grown Quinoa in recipes. It can be used in place of rice, couscous and bulgur wheat.

Quinoa is a nutritional powerhouse with lots of protein and amino acids. Now that you know how to harvest Quinoa, you can explore the nutritious possibilities of this seed-grain food!