What is this grain?
February 23, 2009 8:22 AM   Subscribe

Mystery grain.

My wife got it from one of the bulk bins at Whole Foods. She thought she was buying barley. Clearly, it's not barley. It's whitish-yellow with a dark mark at one end, more pill-shaped than spherical. Definitely not oval. I was thinking maybe it's millet, but I thought millet is rounder. I threw some in a stew I was making and it seems to have completely broken down.
posted by Bezuhin to Food & Drink (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
posted by Grither at 8:29 AM on February 23, 2009

Quinoa Though the breaking down is a little odd for quinoa, but I've never put it in a stew.
Steel cut oats
posted by Science! at 8:30 AM on February 23, 2009

Response by poster: Sorry, I didn't realize until after that the link on the front page would jump to the picture instead of the more inside. I'm sure this is annoying and I'd change it if I could.
posted by Bezuhin at 8:31 AM on February 23, 2009

If a little spiraly bit uncurls during cooking, it's probably quinoa. If not, then probably not (I've never seen quinoa that doesn't have that spiral).
posted by aramaic at 8:31 AM on February 23, 2009

I think it's millet, but why not go back to Whole Foods and ask?
posted by scratch at 8:32 AM on February 23, 2009

Sure looks like millet. There are various kinds.
posted by beagle at 8:33 AM on February 23, 2009

Response by poster: Thanks, everyone. I think it is quinoa. I just didn't think quinoa grains were so small.
posted by Bezuhin at 8:38 AM on February 23, 2009

I get an error when I click on your link, but your description of it breaking down after being cooked makes it sound like quinoa. It's almost like it unravels after it's cooked.

And for future reference, quinoa should be rinsed really well before you cook it. It's got a bitter coating that's pretty unpalatable, but rinsing will take care of it right good.
posted by mudpuppie at 10:04 AM on February 23, 2009

I couldn't see the pic, but try the grain entry at Cook's Thesaurus
posted by crazybrave at 6:21 PM on February 23, 2009

It could also be teff, which is notably tiny and often used as thickener in stews. Or, heck, amaranth, which has a kind of millet-y look and also gives a gelatinous texture.

If you didn't notice the little tail, I would say it's not quinoa.

Also, I've never encountered quinoa sold in this country that had the bitter saponins intact. I think we've all been rinsing our quinoa out of fear based on 1970s-era information.
posted by purpleclover at 7:13 PM on February 23, 2009

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