Chewy, nutty, and filled with fiber, buckwheat is a naturally gluten-free pseudocereal packed with fiber and minerals. Get all the details on the nutritional benefits, storage and buying tips, and how to use in cooking below.
Despite the name, buckwheat isn’t wheat at all, but instead is considered a pseudocereal as it comes from a plant related to the rhubarb family.
Buckwheat seeds are often referred to as “groats,” and may be ground into flour to be used in baking or for soba noodles. WHile popular in Asian and Russian cuisines, buckwheat has also become popular in other parts of Europe and the United States.
Buckwheat groats stand out for their super chewy texture, which can easily become mushy if not cooked correctly.
While we’ll get to the nutrient composition of buckwheat groats in a moment, it’s interesting to note that buckwheat has never been genetically modified, so all buckwheat groats are GMO-free.
Nutritionally speaking, buckwheat is high in carbohydrate, but has a low to medium glycemic index score, meaning that the carbohydrates in buckwheat are slowly digested and less likely to cause dramatic spikes in blood sugar.
One cup of cooked buckwheat groats contains approximately 155 calories, 1 gram of fat, 5.7 grams of protein, 33 grams of carbohydrate, and 4.5 grams of fiber. WHile it contains a variety of minerals, it’s a particularly good source of manganese, magnesium, and copper.
In addition to being high in minerals, buckwheat is low in phytic acid, meaning that the minerals are more easily absorbed from buckwheat than they are in other unsoaked whole grains.
How to select: Groats vs Kasha
When looking for buckwheat groats, you’ll likely come across kasha as well. Kasha is a porridge made from roasted buckwheat groats that’s common in Eastern European cuisine. As a result of being roasted, kasha is nuttier in flavor and has a brown-red color. While delicious for a breakfast cereal, if the recipe calls for raw buckwheat, make sure to choose groats.
Buckwheat groats should be pale in color and not have much of a smell. They can be found in most large supermarkets, both pre-packaged and in the bulk bin sections.
How to store
When kept in an airtight container, buckwheat groats will last for 6 months in the pantry and 12 months in the fridge.
How to use in cooking/baking
Before cooking, it’s recommended to first sprout buckwheat groats – which just means soaking them. To do this, place rinsed groats in a jar or bowl with enough water to fully cover them. Let sit for at least 6 hours and then rinse before using. I typically just soak them overnight.
Not only will soaking them help make the buckwheat fluffier and not stick together as much, but it also makes them easier to digest and the nutrients more easily absorbed by the body.
After soaking, your groats are ready to cook! To do this, use a 2:1 ratio unless otherwise indicated on the package. For example, place 1 cup of buckwheat groats in a saucepan with 2 cups of liquid. Bring to a boil then reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 10-15 minutes, or until tender. Drain any remaining liquid.
Buckwheat can be used anywhere that you’d traditionally use rice or another whole grain. While delicious in grain bowls, one of my favorite uses is as a chewier breakfast porridge, simmered with almond milk.
Thanks to their chewy texture, buckwheat groats are a great addition to soups and salads. They can also be used to make a healthier risotto and tabule, or ground up and used as a flour in baking.