Grains: Teff (Eragrostis)
is an intriguing grain, ancient, minute in size, and packed with nutrition. Teff
is believed to have originated in Ethiopia between 4000 and 1000 BC. Teff seeds
were discovered in a pyramid thought to date back to 3359 BC.
grain has been widely cultivated and used in the countries of Ethiopia, India
and it's colonies, and Australia. Teff is grown primarily as a cereal crop in
Ethiopia where it is ground into flour, fermented for three days then made into
enjera, a sourdough type flat bread. It is also eaten as porridge and used as
an ingredient of home-brewed alcoholic drinks. The grass is grown as forage for
cattle and is also used as a component in adobe construction in Ethiopia. At this
time it is not widely known or used in the U.S., though it is cultivated in South
Dakota and Idaho and is available in many health food stores.
word teff is thought to have been derived from the Amharic word teffa which
means "lost," due to small size of the grain and how easily it is lost
if dropped. It is the smallest grain in the world, measuring only about 1/32 of
an inch in diameter and taking 150 grains to weigh as much as one grain of wheat.
The common English names for teff are teff, lovegrass, and annual bunch grass.
the grains of teff are so small, the bulk of the grain consists of the bran and
germ. This makes teff nutrient dense as the bran and germ are the most nutritious
parts of any grain. This grain has a very high calcium content, and contains high
levels of phosphorous, iron, copper, aluminum, barium, and thiamin. It is considered
to have an excellent amino acid composition, with lysine levels higher than wheat
or barley. Teff is high in protein, carbohydrates, and fiber. It contains no gluten
so it is appropriate for those with gluten intolerance.
color of the Teff grains can be ivory, light tan to deep brown or dark reddish
brown purple, depending on the variety. Teff has a mild, nutty, and a slight molasses
like sweetness. The white teff has a chestnut-like flavor and the darker varieties
are earthier and taste more like hazelnuts. The grain is somewhat mucilaginous.
It is interesting that documents dated in the late 1800's indicate the upper class
consumed the lighter grains, the dark grain was the food of soldiers and servants,
and cattle consumed hay made from teff.
is a fine stemmed, tufted annual grass characterized by a large crown, many shoots,
and a shallow diverse root system. The plants germinate quickly and are adapted
to environments ranging from drought stress to water logged soil conditions. It
is a reliable low risk crop. There are 250 known species of Eragrostis, or love
grasses, but only a few are of significant agricultural value.
is a very versatile grain. Teff flour can be used as a substitute for part of
the flour in baked goods, or the grains added uncooked or substituted for part
of the seeds, nuts, or other small grains. Due to it's small size, only 1/2 Cup
of teff is needed to replace 1 cup of sesame seeds. It is a good thickener for
soups, stews, gravies, and puddings and can also be used in stir-fry dishes, and
casseroles. Teff may be added to soups or stews in either of two ways: 1) Add
them, uncooked to the pot a half-hour before serving time. 2) Add them cooked
to the pot 10 minutes before serving. Cooked teff can be mixed with herbs, seeds,
beans or tofu, garlic, and onions to make grain burgers. The seeds can also be
sprouted and the sprouts used in salads and on sandwiches.
cook teff place 2 cups purified water, 1/2 cup teff, and 1/4 tsp. sea salt (optional)
in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer covered for 15 to 20 minutes
or until the water is absorbed. Remove from heat and let stand covered for 5 minutes.
should be stored in a cool, dark, dry place in tightly covered containers such
as glass jars. Cooked Teff can be kept in the refrigerator, but should be used
within a few days.
grain would be a worthy and healthful addition to your diet. Be creative, use
your imagination, and enjoy this wonderful nutritious grain.
are two recipes adapted from packages of Arrowhead Teff.
1 cup cooked Teff
1/4 tsp. Sea salt
cup multigrain pancake mix or whole grain flour
1 cup water or enough to
make pancake batter
1 tbsp. Oil (optional)
all ingredients; cook on a hot oiled griddle.
variations try adding nuts, berries, or apples to the batter.
3/4 cup rice flour
1/4 cup barley flour
1-1/2 tbsp. Carob powder
1/4 cup uncooked teff
1/4 cup molasses
or maple syrup (or try brown rice syrup or agave syrup)
1/2 cup water or
1/4 tsp. Almond extract
dry ingredients. Mix liquids. Combine mixtures. Drop small spoonfuls onto oiled
baking sheet. Bake at 350º for 8-10 minutes.
variations try adding nuts, seeds, and / or raisins to the dough.
Lost, But Not Forgotten" http://www.efn.org/~sundance/TeffMillet.html (January
Roehl Whole Food Facts Rochester, VT: Healing Arts Press, 1996
Theresa "Cooked Quinoa or Teff" http://www.ichef.com (January 21, 1999)
Gilbert F. "Teff" http://www.hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/cropfactsheets/teff.html
(January 20, 1999)
Gilbertson , Kenneth M.; and Eckhoff , J.L. "Teff: "Food Crop for Humans
and Animals" http://www.hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/proceedings1993/v2-231.html
(January 20, 1999)
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