Category Archives: grain

Around the Year with Quinoa in Malvik

Quinoa had been used as an annual grain crop in the Andes since ancient times, and was domesticated at least 4,000 years ago. Around 1990, I received seeds of a variety from Southern Chile called Dave (Linares 407) from the UK, where this short season variety was being trialled by the UK organic organisation Henry Doubleday Research Association. From the start and to my surprise, it gave some yield every year in my garden at 63.5N on the Trondheimsfjord. I never grew more than 40-50 plants, often less, due to space limitations and the fact that, in some years, yield was poor as damp autumn weather resulted in seeds sprouting and going mouldy before harvest. I tried various other varieties such as Chadmo, Kcoito and Temuco, but Dave gave a better yield. In the process of saving seed every year, I’ve grown it every year since I first got the seed and have selected it over the years (mostly unconsciously) and have therefore developed my own variety, which is now known as Stephe and is nowadays grown successfully by a number of growers in the Norwegian Seed Savers (KVANN) network. Seed is available through the KVANN yearbook.

I don’t know how true the story of the variety Dave recounted below in the Adaptive seeds catalogue (Oregon, USA) – I’ve heard different opinions of this: “This is our favorite quinoa because of its unique history and excellent performance here on the Willamette Valley floor. Golden orange seeds. 4-5′ tall plants with seed heads that turn vivid orange when ripe. High yielding when compared to other quinoa grown here in low elevations. Short season. Open seed heads resist late season damp weather. Collected in southern Chile. Named after quinoa collector and advocate David Cusack, who was murdered in Bolivia in 1984. There is anecdotal evidence that he was murdered by “business interests” that felt threatened by the solidarity amongst quinoa growing campesinos. Others believe he was murdered due to his activism and research surrounding the CIA’s role in the overthrow of Chilean president Salvador Allende. All very mysterious.”
Below is a series of pictures taken during the year in Malvik over the years. You may also be interested in the following blog posts about this amazing and nutritious plants:

1. Cleaning Quinoa Seed: http://www.edimentals.com/blog/?p=9083

  1. Three species quinoa and Jicama salad http://www.edimentals.com/blog/?attachment_id=9925
    (this is from a blog post “Jicama-Ahipa a la Henry Quinoa”)
    (The most interesting perennial grain crop for cold climates is quinoa’s cousin Good King Henry, Chenopodium bonus-henricus……I have started collecting different accessions of this plant with the idea to select Henry Quinoa, a potential future super-grain for arctic conditions! The common weed Chenopodium album is also surprisingly productive…what it we had selected that as a grain?)
  2. Home grown Quinoa patties: http://www.edimentals.com/blog/?p=9020

Finally, a good reference with lots of recipes is Traditional High Andean Cuisine: Allin Mikuy / Sumak Mikuy  http://www.fao.org/3/a-i1466e.pdf

 

Ivar B. Løne and Mylna

My friend Eirik is involved in the restauration of the fantastic Mylna (mill) in Voss…incredible to think that this would be no more if it hadn’t been for a group of private people fronted by one of Norway’s first environmentalists, Ivar B. Løne, who became vegetarian in the 70s and founded Friends of the Earth in Bergen (Naturvernforbundet) and also has done much for Vossakvann (the old variety of Angelica which was the main reason for our visit). He was also way ahead of his time with local slow food like his barley and Jerusalem artichoke flat bread! One of the real heros of our time, now in his 90s!

See Mylna’s FB page here https://www.facebook.com/StiftelsenVossMylna (you can see his picture on the main page)
…and Ivar’s visit to drink tea with the King:
http://idebanken.origo.no/-/document/get/17977/ivar%20b.%202.pdf

Jicama-ahipa à la Henry quinoa

One of the culinary highlights of the year is the annual Jicama (hee-ka-ma) meal….if you’ve never eaten yam beans or Jicama (Pachyrhizus erosus), you haven’t lived!
I grow this subtropical vegetable in my office, which only gets sunlight for maximum 1 hour a day which isn’t optimal conditions (they are usually grown in open fields), but being a climber originates in forests, so it tolerates shade. I grew it’s brother on-climbing Ahipa (Pachyrhizus ahipa) beside it, but that species didn’t produce much (perhaps it’s more sensitive to light?). I also didn’t think the taste was as good.  Both species died down at the end of the year and I harvested the tubers in early January!
Jicama tubers are best eaten raw and are crispy and a little sweet. Being one of the lost crops of the Incas, much more popular in the Americas than in Europe, I served them sliced with a cooked quinoa mix – mixed home grown Quinoa and black-grained Henry quinoa from Good King Henry (Chenopodium bonus-henricus), flavoured with chilis and lemony sanshō seeds (Zanthoxylum piperitum or Japanese pepper).
NB! Both species, Ahipa and Jicama are normally started from seed which I haven’t succeeded in growing myself!
Day Two: I didn’t eat it all yesterday, I needed a bit more, so I cooked up a third species quinoa, Fat Hen quinoa (Meldestokk quinoa), from the seed of one plant of Fat Hen or Lamb’s Quarters (Chenopodium album). It was added to yesterday’s to give a Three species quinoa and jicama salad (two pictures added)

The svedjerug story

https://vimeo.com/124598269
Follow the link above for a good video in English where Johan Swärd, winner of the Norwegian Plant Heritage prize,  tells the story of Svedjerug (literally Slash and Burn Rye), an old variety which was rescued when a few seeds  were found between the floorboards on an old farm in Finnskogen, Norway before being grown out at the Hamar Domkirkeodden Urtehagen (Herb garden at the Hamar Cathedral ruins; see a picture of one of the plants growing there in 1988: https://no.wikisource.org/wiki/Svedjebruk#/media/File:Ryesod.JPG).  Johan got his seeds from there and has done great work in popularising it (I can now even buy flour and grain in one of the better supermarkets in Trondheim):
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It’s a very tall rye (over 2m) traditionally sown in summer and harvested the year after as part of the slash and burn agriculture (spruce forest) introduced by the Forest Finns (Skogfinner) to parts of Norway and Sweden. Johan tells how as many as 100 straws can in optimal conditions be produced from a single seed and up to 100 grains in each ear, an amazing total of 10,000 grains from a single plant! He also explains why it is important not only to store old varieties like Svedjerug in gene banks like Svalbard, but also to continue to grow them and select them for changing conditions.
Seed of Svedjerug has been offered in our Norwegian Seed Savers Yearbook (norwegianseedsavers.no), coming out in February, another good reason to support our work!

Below are two pictures taken during a workshop Johan gave at the Permaculture Festival in Hurdal in 2013!

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Svedjerug grows this high!!


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Cleaning quinoa seed

I’ve found the easiest way to clean quinoa and seed of other Chenopods is using water…the seed sinks and the chaff floats…after separating, the seed is dried…

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Quinoa seed froths up because of the saponins in the seed…
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Cleaned seed


 

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I used the same method with Chenopodium album / Fat hen / meldestokk seed (on the left)…the seed doesn’t froth much, so not such high content of saponins..