So, the first questions you may be asking yourself: "Why would I want to pop amaranth? And by the way, what's amaranth??"
Good questions! First of all, amaranth is a grain-like food that is off-the-charts nutritious. Like, stupid nutritious. Scientists actually had to reclassify it into its own C4 group, due to the insanely high nutrient levels! It contains twice the calcium of milk and boasts loads of iron, fiber, and protein. Plus, it's energizing and strengthening.
But why would you want to pop the stuff, you ask? Well, if you saw the look on my daughter's face when I even SAY the words "popped amaranth" you'd get it. Kids freak out over this healthy treat. (Yes, adults love it too!) Plus, it really is the world's tiniest, cutest popcorn! The tiny grains pop up into miniscule popcorn-looking puffs. It's adorable. Deliciously, huggably adorable. And easy!
Here's my how-to on popping amaranth. And remember - if you've failed at this, hang in there. I'd pretty much given up on it before I finally learned the tricks on getting it right. I'll give you the tips that will help you avoid common problems so you can be an amaranth popping pro, without the failures I struggled through! I do recommend that you read through all of the directions first, so that you are well prepared to rock the adventure ahead...
1. Here's what you'll need:
- Amaranth. The kind you can find in most health food stores (often in the bulk section).
- Coconut oil (I prefer non-virgin so the flavor is neutral) and salt.
- A nice pot with a tight fitting lid. I use a stainless steel soup pot (medium-sized). Basically, something that has a slippery surface (not cast iron, for example!) so that the amaranth can easily slide around.
- Also, have a medium-sized bowl handy.
2. The first thing that's very important: Getting your pot to the right temperature.
This is where most amaranth-popping wannabes fail. I was once that person. I gave up because it seemed my amaranth always burned and never popped. So, pay attention - be sure to have your pot at the right temperature. To do this: Place it over medium-high heat and add about 3 amaranth grains to the pot. Cover and just sit back and watch. Once the amaranth grains turn dark brown, you should be ready to go. Discard the browned amaranth and get ready to rock and roll with this thing...
3. Add just enough amaranth to barely cover the bottom of the pot with a single layer. Another important step not to be missed. If you put too much amaranth in there, some will burn or pop and some won't. All of the amaranth needs to be touching the hot surface at once. For me, I use about a teaspoon of amaranth for a medium sized soup pot.
4. Another important point (Are you sick of me saying this yet?) - Shake that pan constantly as soon as those amaranth grains go in the pot! Don't stop shaking! Once the popping slows down, immediately empty them into the bowl. If you wait too long, the amaranth will burn.
5. Continue to repeat steps 3 and 4 until you have enough popped amaranth to satisfy your amaranth desires. And needs.
6. To season: Melt a little bit (you don't need much) of the oil in the pan and drizzle it over the amaranth. Season with salt and stir well. Personally, I don't like to use overpowering seasonings for the amaranth as I love to let the natural, wild, wonderful flavor of the amaranth come through!
Enjoy your uber healthy, fun, delicious treat!!! And let me know how your amaranth popping adventure goes!