General information and profile:
buckwheat or Fagopyrum describes a multi-species genus of plants within the knotweed, closely related to sorrel and rhubarb, that thrives in East Africa, Asia and Europe. The name buckwheat, which is also used for the fruits of plants, deceives about the nature of this grain, because it is not a grain, but a pseudo-grain. However, when peeled, the buckwheat grains look confusingly similar to conventional wheat grains.
Buckwheat is a mostly annual, rarely more perennial plant that produces small and bright flowers and grows herbaceous or as a dwarf shrub. The most striking feature of the plant are its pointed triangular leaves. Within the genus, the species Fagopyrum tataricum and Fagopyrum esculentum are cultivated in temperate climates worldwide for use as pseudo-cereals. Since the plant makes only low demands on the soil conditions, the cultivation is comparatively easy. With the exception of calcareous soil, buckwheat thrives almost everywhere and can even be grown in barren heathland. The fruits of Fagopyrum are characteristic dreikantiger form, which brought her also the common name in the German-speaking area buckwheat, because they remind in the appearance strongly of the beechnuts, the fruits of the red beech.
History of the cultivation of buckwheat:
The species of buckwheat, which are important for the culture, originally came from the southern Russian steppe and finally reached Western Europe through nomadic tribes. In many parts of Asia and Russia, the cultivation of buckwheat has a long tradition dating back several millennia. From the Middle Ages buckwheat was also cultivated in Germany and Austria and served as an important staple food in some regions. Even today, buckwheat is grown on a large scale mainly in Russia and the Ukraine, closely followed by China, Brazil, the United States and some Central European countries. Every year more than 2.5 million tons are harvested today due to increasing demand.
Use of buckwheat:
The triangular buckwheat grains, which are slightly greyish in color, have an extremely strong, delicately bitter taste and are processed in peeled form into flour, semolina and porridge. Since buckwheat alone is not bakeable, it is added to mixtures for the production of bread, cakes and pancakes. Due to the growing trend of a full-fledged diet, buckwheat is increasingly in use again today, after the nutrient-rich pseudo-cereal was forgotten for many decades, especially in the western world. Buckwheat is gluten free and therefore recommended as a substitute for wheat as part of a balanced diet for celiac disease patients. With a protein content of more than ten percent, the pseudo-grain is one of the most nutrient-rich crops ever. It contains high levels of lysine, an essential amino acid that plays a key role in the formation of healthy and robust bone. In addition, buckwheat is an excellent source of vitamin E as well as some B group vitamins, calcium, magnesium, iron and potassium. Due to its high silica content, regular consumption of buckwheat products is important for healthy skin, hair and nails.
From the flowers and leaves of the plant is usually prepared a mild tea. The shell of the buckwheat grains contains fagopyrin, a dye of this genus, which in humans can lead to increased photosensitivity of the skin. People who are sensitive to sunlight should therefore peel the fruit before eating.