Flax plants beginning to flower. (Mary Lowther photo)

Flax plants beginning to flower. (Mary Lowther photo)

Mary Lowther column: Choosing crops: how much processing do you want to do?

The oats and quinoa were more trouble to process than an old granny lady like me cared to deal with.

By Mary Lowther

Dan Jason of Salt Spring Seeds turned me on to growing grains and the tastiest beans I’ve ever eaten — Uganda Bush Beans. In fact, I just sowed some this week from last year’s crop of seeds. His flax, oats and quinoa grow like weeds.

The oats and quinoa were more trouble to process than an old granny lady like me cared to deal with. The oats resisted threshing so I ended up throwing the whole mess into the compost heap. The quinoa fell off its stalks into the awaiting bucket easily, but bitter saponins cover each seed. I didn’t know this so my first pot of quinoa was inedible, nothing like the stuff you buy.

It turns out that one must rub off the saponins in water and then dry the grain for storage. I filled up a bowl with water, poured in some quinoa and rubbed the grains like crazy in several waters, gave them a final rinse and cooked up another batch. Still bitter. A web site suggested blending quinoa with water for a few seconds — just long enough to remove the saponins, so I gave that a whirl. Nope, still bitter. I wonder how commercial enterprises do it.

Flax, on the other hand, grew beautifully, producing tons of lovely seeds that needed no more work than some light threshing into a bucket. Since I often use flax in cooking, I’m growing some again this year. Rich in omega three fatty acids, flax grew unperturbed by pests or disease and reached about five feet.

I sowed them in early spring about one inch apart in rows one foot apart. The rows probably should have been two feet apart, but I’m greedy. I’m fertilizing them the same way as the rest of the garden; side dressing with organic fertilizer every three weeks and sprinkling compost tea on them every two weeks. When they start to flop over I’ll hammer in a few stakes around the bed and tie string around them.

Bees love the blue flowers that develop into seeds that mature by late summer. Here’s a tasty recipe using the dehydrator, using flax and the spent pulp from making nut or seed milk, copied from the Blissful recipe book by Heather Cunliffe.

Cinnamon Toast

1 cup pulp from making nut milk

1/3 cup ground flax

2.5 T. oil

2.5 T. raisins

2.5 T chopped walnuts

1 pitted medjool date, chopped finely

1 T. honey

¼ tsp. cinnamon

¼ tsp. salt

Mix everything together (I use my hands). Spread about ¼ inch thick on dehydrating sheets and dehydrate at 115 F. for 12 hours or overnight. If the dehydrator doesn’t have a temperature dial, just dry them until they’re crisp. I love this stuff, and it’s the best recipe I’ve come across to use up the pulp leftover from making nut or seed milk.

Please contact mary_lowther@yahoo.ca with questions and suggestions since I need all the help I can get.


Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Tim Schewe
Drivesmart column: It’s the highway’s fault!

One component of Vision Zero (our current road safety strategy) is highway design.

Moira Mercer spent her summer riding her e-bike around Cowichan Lake and beyond, collecting any empties she found along the way. (Submitted)
Lake Cowichan 2020 in review — conclusion

What were your top stories from 2020?

Staff meetings can be difficult when everyone has his own agenda. (Mary Lowther photo)
Mary Lowther column: Garden additions at request of staff

I’ll sow the catnip in flats on the seed table inside

Sarah Simpson
Sarah Simpson column: Snowballs fights and dead spiders

Even if it doesn’t end up how we hope, it’s the trying that matters most.

A scene from “Canada and the Gulf War: In their own words,” a video by The Memory Project, a program of Historica Canada, is shown in this undated illustration. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO - Historica Canada
New video marks Canada’s contributions to first Gulf War on 30th anniversary

Veterans Affairs Canada says around 4,500 Canadian military personnel served during the war

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

A 17-year-old snowmobiler used his backcountry survival sense in preparation to spend the night on the mountain near 100 Mile House Saturday, Jan. 16, 2021 after getting lost. (South Cariboo Search and Rescue Facebook photo)
Teen praised for backcountry survival skills after getting lost in B.C.’s Cariboo mountains

“This young man did everything right after things went wrong.”

Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole holds a press conference on Parliament Hill, in Ottawa on December 10, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
No place for ‘far right’ in Conservative Party, Erin O’Toole says

O’Toole condemned the Capitol attack as ‘horrifying’ and sought to distance himself and the Tories from Trumpism

A passer by walks in High Park, in Toronto, Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021. This workweek will kick off with what’s fabled to be the most depressing day of the year, during one of the darkest eras in recent history. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young
‘Blue Monday’ getting you down? Exercise may be the cure, say experts

Many jurisdictions are tightening restrictions to curb soaring COVID-19 case counts

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
COVID-19: Provinces work on revised plans as Pfizer-BioNTech shipments to slow down

Anita Anand said she understands and shares Canadians’ concerns about the drug company’s decision

Tourists take photographs outside the British Columbia Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday August 26, 2011. A coalition of British Columbia tourism industry groups is urging the provincial government to not pursue plans to ban domestic travel to fight the spread of COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. travel ban will harm struggling tourism sector, says industry coalition

B.C. government would have to show evidence a travel ban is necessary

(Phil McLachlan - Capital News)
‘Targeted’ shooting in Coquitlam leaves woman in hospital

The woman suffered non-life threatening injuries in what police believe to be a targeted shooting Saturday morning

Everett Bumstead (centre) and his crew share a picture from a tree planting location in Sayward on Vancouver Island from when they were filming for ‘One Million Trees’ last year. Photo courtesy, Everett Bumstead.
The tree-planting life on Vancouver Island featured in new documentary

Everett Bumstead brings forth the technicalities, psychology and politics of the tree planting industry in his movie

Most Read