Oct 5, 2010

What is Teff - the grain?

The world's SMALLEST grain!

Teff (white-ivory or red varieties) is a cereal grain native to Northeastern Africa and Southwestern Arabia. Although it has been used in Ethiopia in particular for centuries, teff was not widely known in other parts of the world until the late twentieth century, when farmers in the Central United States and Australia began to experiment with the grain. A growing demand for teff has made it more readily available, especially in urban areas. Typically, health food stores and large grocers stock teff, either in the form of flour or in a whole grain form. The grains of teff are in fact so small that enough seeds to sow an entire field can easily be held in the hand or in a small bag, making teff an extremely portable crop. Teff has been eaten by humans and animals for thousands of years, with botanists suspecting that teff may have been domesticated as early as 4,000 BCE. In Ethiopia, teff is a vital part of most people's diets. In Ethiopia, teff is fermented and used to make injera, a traditional sourdough-type flatbread.
The grain has a very mild, nutty flavor, and it also packs a serious nutritional punch. Teff, white teff in particular, has an excellent balance of amino acids, and it is also high in protein, calcium, and iron. A cup of cooked teff contains 387 mg of calcium which is 40% of the U.S. recommended daily allowance (USRDA).

How to cook with Teff Flour: The properties are somewhat different than wheat flour (no gluten) so start off start off by substituting about 25% of the wheat flour in a recipe with teff flour.

How to use Teff Grain:
Uncooked teff grains can be used in cooking and baking in place of other types of small grains, nuts or seeds. Because of its small size, make sure to use a smaller amount of teff when substituting. For example, use 1/2 cup of teff grain for 1 cup of sesame seeds.
Teff can also be used as a thickener in soups, gravies and stews. Teff is often cooked as a porridge and when cooked, its stickiness allows it to easily be formed into cakes (polenta-like).

Teff has twice as much iron as both wheat and barley...WOW!!!

An inferior variety, red teff, has less nutritional value, although it is easier to cultivate. Along with other alternative grains like quinoa and millet, teff has become well known in the health foods community because of its great nutritional value.

So, next time you head to the health food store, be sure to pick some up and try it. Here's a GREAT recipe to try for a healthy and complete breakfast! Now a favorite in our home!

TEFF Porridge (Bob's Red Mill recipe)
1 c whole grain Teff
1 T. butter
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
3/4 c pitted dates (halved) or raisins
1/4 tsp. sea salt
3-4 T. honey
1/2 c pecans
milk or cream for serving (optional)

Set a heavy 2 quart saucepan over med. heat. Add the Teff and toast, stirring frequently until the grains emit a mild toasty aroma and begin to pop (3-6 minutes). Turn off heat and stand back to avoid sputtering. Add 3 cups boiling water, the butter and cloves. Stir well. Turn the head to medium, cover, and cook at a gentle boil for 10 minutes. Stir from time to time to prevent the grains from sticking to the bottom. Stir in dates, salt, and honey to taste. Cover and continue cooking until the grains are tender and one color throughout (no whiteish dot in the center), about 5-10 minutes longer. Stir in more boiling water if the mixture becomes very thick before the grains are thoroughly cooked. When the porridge is done, turn off the heat and let sit covered for 5 minutes. Stir in the pecans. Ladle into bowls and put in cream if desired. Enjoy this unique yet delicious hot cereal!

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