Seeing red … amaranth

I love growing amaranth because it’s so big, bold, and eye catching. Lee likes growing it for grain purposes. Right now we have three different varieties in our garden. One is a descendant from the Hartman’s Giant amaranth we grew in 2012. It popped up in the middle of a walk way and for some reason we let it stay.

Lee with Amaranth on August 14th

This volunteer plant has turned into the Eiffel Tower of our garden. We never watered or fertilized it and it’s determined to show off. The main stem is over 3 inches wide at the base!!


As a child I once got a free packet of Love Lies Bleeding amaranth. I remember staring at the picture on the packet and thinking how beautiful it was. I’m not sure why I didn’t try planting the seed.

This year I planted that same variety but somehow it didn’t live up to my childhood fantasy. How could it, when I have Hartman’s showing off its magnificent splendor a few feet away? Lee is pretty impressed with Love Lies Bleeding though. It would be low-yielding for grain, but the drooping heads are neat. The annoying thing about this stand is I had the bright idea to plant it right next to the tomato row. Now my tomatoes are a challenge to pick.

Love Lies Bleeding amaranth

The third variety we have growing is Oeschberg amaranth. Lee and I were disappointed in it because, well….Hartman’s. In the seed catalog it was described as resembling an “octopus waving its tentacles,” and somehow our mental image of that and reality don’t match up. Also, it’s a 3 foot variety and we were expecting another 8 foot variety. It is very pretty but the foliage always seems stressed. This area of the garden has a known symphylan problem so maybe that is affecting it a little. I think the picture below looks like the amaranth is futilely trying to hold back the tide of squash.

Oeschberg amaranth

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3 Responses to Seeing red … amaranth

  1. Phil says:

    Those are nice! I’ve seen them before but never grew them. What do you use the grain for?

    • robin says:

      We use the grain for eating. Yummy! It has a unique taste. We’ve only recently been cooking with it from saved seed.

    • lee says:

      So far I’ve prepared it much like rice. In a pot with water, about 2.5:1 water to grain, bring to a simmer, and cook 20+ minutes until you are happy with it. It breaks down very slowly, but many of the seeds will never cook down fully. (This includes after digesting.)

      It typically turns out soupier than rice, so I serve it as a bed under something else, or as a side with herbs. Once I cooked a thicker version, then mixed it with breadcrumbs and egg and fried up little fritters. Those were quite good. I also tried baking the simmered amaranth directly in the oven, but it never set up properly. You’d have to cut it with quite a bit of flour, or perhaps grind it first I think.

      I’m still looking for recipes and ideas. It’s a very unique taste and the Internet is short on ideas for using it.

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