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Buckwheat hotcakes with blueberries (from frozen) and maple syrup

The blackness of buckwheat hotcakes is so shocking that you’d think they couldn’t possibly be good. Yet the flavor is mild — almost delicate — and nutty.

Buckwheat is not a relative of wheat. In fact, according to the Wikipedia article, it’s not even a grain, because it’s not a grass. Rather, buckwheat is the seed of Fagopyrum esculentum, which is a relative of sorrel, knotweed, and rhubarb.

Again according to Wikipedia, buckwheat was first cultivated in Southeast Asia. It made its way to Europe as a cool-weather and short-season crop. Many farms grew it in early America. Once upon a time, buckwheat was commonly grown in the nearby Blue Ridge Mountains. That is no longer the case, and if I have ever seen a field of buckwheat, I’m not aware of it. Still, older people remember buckwheat from their childhoods, and there is still a demand for it locally. A nearby mill actually grinds buckwheat flour. I have no idea, though, where they get the buckwheat. The local mill’s flour is sold in country stores in paper sacks tied with a string that always look shopworn and not a bit fresh. I’ve only ever seen it as “self-rising” flour, which is another reason I would never buy the local stuff. I have never bought any self-rising flour, and I can’t imagine why anyone would. Except that I believe many people don’t realize that self-rising flour is just flour that already has baking powder added. Why would I want baking powder added for me since I can easily do that myself? Self-rising flour also means that a flour can be used only in a quick bread, ruling out its use for yeast breads or, say, a pie crust.

Bob’s Red Mill is probably the easiest source of buckwheat flour. The label says that the flour’s dark color comes from the hull of the seed. So buckwheat flour is a whole grain (or whole seed) flour. Buckwheat groats, on the other hand, have been hulled. I don’t think I’ve ever eaten groats of any sort, probably just because the word “groats” sounds so unappetizing.

Buckwheat flour has no gluten. It makes fine pancakes, but I’d rather not attempt any other kind of bread with it. I suspect that buckwheat flour would make a decent pie crust. I’ll run that experiment soon.

A field of buckwheat — Wikipedia Commons


  1. frigast wrote:

    Some people are eating buckwheat every day as porridge, they swear to it 🙂
    Here in France we are offered ‘galettes’ pancakes of buckwheat/sarrasin with all sorts of vegetables or eggs on them.
    A sort of food parallel to the ‘crèpe’ (wheat flour), the dessert pancake with sweet stuff on them.

    Saturday, February 23, 2019 at 2:31 am | Permalink
  2. daltoni wrote:

    Hi Frigast… I suspect that the porridge is the same form of buckwheat that people here call “groats.”

    Hmmm. Buckwheat crêpes. That’s worth making!

    Saturday, February 23, 2019 at 7:04 am | Permalink

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