Quinoa flour is made from the ground up seeds of the quinoa plant. It is grain free and gluten free.
The flour itself is cream-coloured. The coarseness of the granules can vary from brand to brand, but you will find that flour made from quinoa is more coarse than ordinary wheat flour.
The flavor itself is quite strong compared to other flours. It gives your recipes a slight nutty flavor. It is suitable for use in sweet and savoury recipes, such as cookies, cakes, breads and pastas.
How do I cook with it?
If you’re looking to use quinoa flour instead of wheat flour, here are a few tips that will help you succeed:
1. In a traditional wheat recipe, try replacing up to 20% of the wheat flour with quinoa flour to get the taste and feel for quinoa. Leave the quantities of the other ingredients the same.
2. If you want to replace 100% of gluten containing flour in a recipe, you will probably need to vary the amounts of the other ingredients, the cooking time and the cooking temperature. It doesn’t behave the same as gluten containing flours in the oven.
Every recipe is different, but some very general rules of thumb are (for which there are probably just as many exceptions – I know, it's so annoying. But look on the bright side: Grain and gluten free living will certainly keep your creative side ticking):
-Reduce the cooking time
-Reduce the cooking temperature
-Increase the amount of moisture in the recipe
-Increase or add more binding agent (such as eggs). The lack of gluten can mean the final result doesn’t hold together as well. This rule is the least likely to be true, but it’s worth keeping in mind if your results are less than amazing.
3. Try mixing the quinoa flour with other grain free flours and meals, such as almond meal, soy flour or buckwheat flour. It makes a good partner for the bean flours, like chick pea flour, which are often too heavy to use in baking on their own.
It doesn’t always have to be partnered with other flours, however. There are many recipes made specifically for quinoa flour. Try this quinoa pasta recipe or this quinoa muffin recipe as two such examples.
Consistent with the quinoa grains (seeds) that it is made from, quinoa flour contains more protein than any other flour. It also contains zinc, iron, calcium, vitamin B, phosphorus, potassium, magnesium and manganese. It has a higher fat content than most other flours. In the milling process, some of this fat may be removed to produce a lighter flour. This will depend on the brand you buy. Click here to find out more about quinoa nutrition.
You will also find a real variation in the amount of processing the quinoa seed has undergone before it is milled into flour. As with grains, certain components of each grain/seed may be removed in a refining process, such as the outer bran layer. This reduces the nutritional value.
So with this in mind, different brands can really vary in taste and coarseness. If you don’t like one brand, try another. You might find you have a particular preference.
Where can I get it?
A number of options exist, depending upon where in the world you live. Of course, online is the most universal place. Let's see what choice you have on Amazon:
-The health food section of a high end supermarket
-The health food store
-You can also make your own by grinding the raw quinoa seeds, or even quinoa flakes or puffed quinoa, in a grinder. If you're serious about your quinoa flour, a grain mill is the best option. But I've also done a very acceptable coarser grain flour in my basic $20 coffee grinder too, especially if I'm using puffed or flaked quinoa.
Amazon can help you here too:
Before you grind, just make sure the seeds have been rinsed first. Most brands of quinoa come pre-rinsed. See cooking quinoa for info on rinsing.
The higher protein and fat content mean that quinoa flour will go rancid more easily than wheat flour. Store in cool, dry place in sealed container, preferably the refrigerator, for up to 3 months .
It can also be frozen to extend shelf life to approx 6 months.