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Teff: Super Grain Powerhouse

What’s teff, what does it taste like, and how do you cook with it? If you’ve been asking this question, read on to learn about teff and how to cook with this powerhouse grain.

Why is Teff a Super Grain?

Teff is an Ethiopian staple used to make injera, a fermented bread. The grain is also popular in India and Australia. But what’s really unique about teff, is that teff is the world’s smallest grain–so tiny it’s difficult to isolate one seed. And since teff is too tiny to be processed, it’s not stripped of nutrients. The bran and germ make up most of the grain.

Teff is also low-fat, is packed with vitamins and minerals, and contains all 8 essential amino acids. High in fiber and protein, teff is great for blood sugar control–good news for diabetics. Gluten-free, teff is good news for celiacs. All these benefits make teff a super grain and one worth a second look.

What Does Teff Taste Like?

Teff seeds range in color from ivory to dark reddish-brown. The lighter grain is mild and tastes a bit like hazelnuts. The darker grain is molasses-like in taste.

How Do You Buy and Store Teff?

You can buy teff year around in nutrition sections of supermarkets or health food stores. When you get the grain home, store teff in in a cool, dark, dry place, and store it in a sealed container to keep oils from going rancid.

How Do You Cook with Teff?

Cooks use teff to thicken soups, stews, and gravy. Other dishes made with teff include: hot porridge, breads, biscuits, cakes, cookies, puddings, and pancakes. Ground teff substitutes for other flours in cooked and baked goods. Whole, teff also substitutes for quinoa. Teff can be roasted, boiled, ground, or sprouted and has the versatility of cornmeal. You can use uncooked teff seeds in baked goods in place of sesame seeds or nuts.

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Shoud You Rinse Teff?

One important fact about teff–it’s gelatinous, and that’s why it’s not a good idea to rinse teff before you cook with it. If you do, your grain turns to gel.

How Do You Make Teff Porridge?

For teff porridge, you need a water-to-grain ratio of 3:1. But I personally prefer 4:1. The standard recipe for teff porridge is 3 cups water, 1 cup teff, and a pinch of sea salt. You bring the mixture to a boil and drop it to simmer for about 20 minutes or until all the water has been absorbed. Then you remove your porridge from the heat and let it set for about 5 minutes.

How Can You Flavor Teff Porridge?

Teff porridge is rather plain. Although some people believe it’s sweet enough as is, I do add Stevia for sweetener. I also add a few tablespoons of cocoa to create a chocolate pudding out of the porridge–that’s the reason I prefer 4:1 water to teff ratio. Other ways to dress-up teff porridge are with sliced peaches, toasted almonds, honey, maple syrup, or vanilla.

Can You Roast Teff?

Yes, you can roast teff seeds. For additional flavor in porridge or other teff baked products, you can roast teff grain before boiling or baking with the grain. To toast teff, stir the seeds in a skillet until you hear the seeds popping.

Why Isn’t Teff More Popular?

Teff is popular for livestock feed and cereal grain in many places in the world. A few states in the US grow teff, but it’s not a huge cash crop for one reason. Although teff is easy to grow and does well in harsh environments, teff is labor intensive to harvest. If not for this one reason, we would see more teff in the fields and more teff products on the shelf.

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Are you curious to give teff a try? The benefits of teff certainly make it worthwhile. Why not invest in a small package and try out your culinary skills on this powerhouse grain?

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