What is Buckwheat Flour?
Buckwheat flour is a free-flowing white to gray powder with black speckles. It has good nutritional value and a unique taste which adds complexity to baked products.
Traditionally, it’s used in pancakes, noodles, and unleavened bread in Asia, Eastern Europe, and the United States. It is gluten-free, has a sweet aroma and the flavor is nutty, earthy, bitter, and intense. Buckwheat flour is best in combination with other flours and despite its name, has no relation to wheat.
It has origin in Western China and came to Europe in the Middle ages. Eventually, it made its way to North America by immigrants. The plant does well in areas of high elevation with a short frost-free period. It is an annual plant that has a short growing season (2-4 months) and therefore can function as a second crop. Buckwheat is sustainable because of the short growing season and its tolerance to poor quality, sandy or acidic soil.
Buckwheat may contain the word “wheat,” but it is not a wheat grain and is gluten-free. It belongs to the family of pseudocereals, a group of grains that are eaten like cereals but don’t belong to the grass family.
Buckwheat flour provides a rich, earthy flavor and is good for baking quick and yeast bread.
Due to its lack of gluten, it tends to be crumbly in nature. To make a quality product, it can be combined with other gluten-free flours like brown rice flour.
It contains a variety of B-vitamins and is rich in the minerals iron, folate, magnesium, zinc, manganese, and fiber. Buckwheat flour is also high in antioxidants, specifically the polyphenol rutin, which has anti-inflammatory properties.
Buckwheat can be cross-contaminated with gluten-containing foods during processing, transportation, or when used as a rotational crop with wheat. Be sure to look for certified gluten-free on the label to be safe.
Buckwheat flour is a nutritional powerhouse in comparison to rice and maize, the grains traditionally used in gluten-free products. Buckwheat flour is rich in fiber and nutrients and contains antioxidants that help the body fight inflammation. There is a higher amount of fat in buckwheat flour, but it is primarily unsaturated fat, oleic, and linoleic acid.