Buckwheat
Overview
Buckwheat refers to a variety of plants in the dicot family Polygonaceae
Polygonaceae
Polygonaceae is a family of flowering plants known informally as the "knotweed family" or "smartweed family"— "buckwheat family" in the United States. The name is based on the genus Polygonum and was first used by Antoine Laurent de Jussieu in 1789 in his book, Genera Plantarum. The name refers...

: the Eurasian genus Fagopyrum
Fagopyrum
The genus Fagopyrum in the flowering plant family Polygonaceae contains 15 to 16 species of plants, including two important crop plants, the Buckwheat or Japanese Buckwheat Fagopyrum esculentum, and the Tartary Buckwheat Fagopyrum tataricum. They have similar uses, and are classed as pseudocereals,...

, the North American genus Eriogonum
Eriogonum
Eriogonum is the scientific name for a genus of flowering plants, in the family Polygonaceae. The genus is found in North America and is known as wild buckwheat. This is a highly species-rich genus, and indications are that active speciation is continuing...

, and the Northern Hemisphere genus Fallopia
Fallopia
Fallopia is a genus of about 12–15 species of flowering plants in the family Polygonaceae, often included in a wider treatment of the related genus Polygonum in the past. The genus is native to temperate and subtropical regions of the Northern Hemisphere...

. Either of the latter two may be referred to as "wild buckwheat". Despite the name, they are not related to wheat, and are not cereals or grasses.

The cultivation of buckwheat grain, a pseudocereal
Pseudocereal
Pseudocereals are broadleaf plants that are used in much the same way as cereals . Their seed can be ground into flour and otherwise used as cereals. Examples of pseudocereals are amaranth, Love-lies-bleeding, red amaranth, Prince-of-Wales-feather, quinoa, and buckwheat.- Pseudocereals :...

 food crop, declined sharply in the 20th century in affluent regions where the usage of nitrogen fertilizer is popular.
The crop plant, common buckwheat, is Fagopyrum esculentum.
Encyclopedia
Buckwheat refers to a variety of plants in the dicot family Polygonaceae
Polygonaceae
Polygonaceae is a family of flowering plants known informally as the "knotweed family" or "smartweed family"— "buckwheat family" in the United States. The name is based on the genus Polygonum and was first used by Antoine Laurent de Jussieu in 1789 in his book, Genera Plantarum. The name refers...

: the Eurasian genus Fagopyrum
Fagopyrum
The genus Fagopyrum in the flowering plant family Polygonaceae contains 15 to 16 species of plants, including two important crop plants, the Buckwheat or Japanese Buckwheat Fagopyrum esculentum, and the Tartary Buckwheat Fagopyrum tataricum. They have similar uses, and are classed as pseudocereals,...

, the North American genus Eriogonum
Eriogonum
Eriogonum is the scientific name for a genus of flowering plants, in the family Polygonaceae. The genus is found in North America and is known as wild buckwheat. This is a highly species-rich genus, and indications are that active speciation is continuing...

, and the Northern Hemisphere genus Fallopia
Fallopia
Fallopia is a genus of about 12–15 species of flowering plants in the family Polygonaceae, often included in a wider treatment of the related genus Polygonum in the past. The genus is native to temperate and subtropical regions of the Northern Hemisphere...

. Either of the latter two may be referred to as "wild buckwheat". Despite the name, they are not related to wheat, and are not cereals or grasses.

The cultivation of buckwheat grain, a pseudocereal
Pseudocereal
Pseudocereals are broadleaf plants that are used in much the same way as cereals . Their seed can be ground into flour and otherwise used as cereals. Examples of pseudocereals are amaranth, Love-lies-bleeding, red amaranth, Prince-of-Wales-feather, quinoa, and buckwheat.- Pseudocereals :...

 food crop, declined sharply in the 20th century in affluent regions where the usage of nitrogen fertilizer is popular.

Fagopyrum

The crop plant, common buckwheat, is Fagopyrum esculentum. Tartary buckwheat
Tartary Buckwheat
Tartary Buckwheat is a domesticated food plant in the genus Fagopyrum in the family Polygonaceae. With its congener Common Buckwheat, it is often counted as a cereal, but unlike the true cereals the buckwheats are not members of the grass family. Thus they are not related to true wheat...

 (F. tataricum Gaertn.) or "bitter buckwheat" is also used as a crop, but it is much less common. Despite the common name and the grain-like use of the crop, buckwheat is not a cereal or grass
Poaceae
The Poaceae is a large and nearly ubiquitous family of flowering plants. Members of this family are commonly called grasses, although the term "grass" is also applied to plants that are not in the Poaceae lineage, including the rushes and sedges...

. The grain is called a pseudocereal
Pseudocereal
Pseudocereals are broadleaf plants that are used in much the same way as cereals . Their seed can be ground into flour and otherwise used as cereals. Examples of pseudocereals are amaranth, Love-lies-bleeding, red amaranth, Prince-of-Wales-feather, quinoa, and buckwheat.- Pseudocereals :...

 to emphasize that the plant is not related to wheat
Wheat
Wheat is a cereal grain, originally from the Levant region of the Near East, but now cultivated worldwide. In 2007 world production of wheat was 607 million tons, making it the third most-produced cereal after maize and rice...

.

Buckwheat plants grow quickly, beginning to produce seed in about 6 weeks and ripening at 10 to 11 weeks. They grow 30 to 50  inches (75 to 125 cm) tall.

This genus has five-petaled flowers arranged in a compound raceme
Raceme
A raceme is a type of inflorescence that is unbranched and indeterminate and bears pedicellate flowers — flowers having short floral stalks called pedicels — along the axis. In botany, axis means a shoot, in this case one bearing the flowers. In a raceme, the oldest flowers are borne...

 that produces laterally flowered cymose clusters.

Within Fagopyrum, the cultivated species are in the cymosum group, with F. cymosum L. (perennial buckwheat), F. giganteum and F. homotropicum.

Eriogonum

Eriogonum
Eriogonum
Eriogonum is the scientific name for a genus of flowering plants, in the family Polygonaceae. The genus is found in North America and is known as wild buckwheat. This is a highly species-rich genus, and indications are that active speciation is continuing...

is a common chaparral
Chaparral
Chaparral is a shrubland or heathland plant community found primarily in the U.S. state of California and in the northern portion of the Baja California peninsula, Mexico...

 plant throughout western North America, especially California, where it is the largest genus of dicots and at least 70 species have been cataloged. The flowers have six petals and occur in cymes.

Fallopia

The agricultural weed known as 'wild buckwheat' (Fallopia convolvulus) is in the same family, but not closely related to the crop species.

Etymology

The name 'buckwheat' or 'beech wheat' comes from its triangular seeds, which resemble the much larger seeds of the beech nut from the beech tree
Beech
Beech is a genus of ten species of deciduous trees in the family Fagaceae, native to temperate Europe, Asia and North America.-Habit:...

, and the fact that it is used like wheat. The word may be a translation of Middle Dutch boecweite : boec (modern Dutch beuk), beech (see PIE
Proto-Indo-European language
The Proto-Indo-European language is the reconstructed common ancestor of the Indo-European languages, spoken by the Proto-Indo-Europeans...

 bhago-) + weite (mod. Dut. weit), wheat; or may be a native formation on the same model as the Dutch word.

History

The wild ancestor of common buckwheat is F. esculentum ssp.ancestrale. F. homotropicum is interfertile with F. esculentum and the wild forms have a common distribution, in Yunnan
Yunnan
Yunnan is a province of the People's Republic of China, located in the far southwest of the country spanning approximately and with a population of 45.7 million . The capital of the province is Kunming. The province borders Burma, Laos, and Vietnam.Yunnan is situated in a mountainous area, with...

. The wild ancestor of tartary buckwheat is F. tataricum ssp. potanini.

Common buckwheat was domesticated and first cultivated in inland southeast Asia
Southeast Asia
Southeast Asia, South-East Asia, South East Asia or Southeastern Asia is a subregion of Asia, consisting of the countries that are geographically south of China, east of India, west of New Guinea and north of Australia. The region lies on the intersection of geological plates, with heavy seismic...

, possibly around 6000 BC, and from there spread to Central Asia
Central Asia
Central Asia is a core region of the Asian continent from the Caspian Sea in the west, China in the east, Afghanistan in the south, and Russia in the north...

 and Tibet
Tibet
Tibet is a plateau region in Asia, north-east of the Himalayas. It is the traditional homeland of the Tibetan people as well as some other ethnic groups such as Monpas, Qiang, and Lhobas, and is now also inhabited by considerable numbers of Han and Hui people...

, and then to the Middle East
Middle East
The Middle East is a region that encompasses Western Asia and Northern Africa. It is often used as a synonym for Near East, in opposition to Far East...

 and Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

. Domestication most likely took place in the western Yunnan region of China. Buckwheat is documented in Europe in the Balkans
Balkans
The Balkans is a geopolitical and cultural region of southeastern Europe...

 by at least the Middle Neolithic (circa 4000 BC). The oldest known remains in China so far date to circa 2600 BC while buckwheat pollen found in Japan dates from as early as 4000 BC. It is the world's highest elevation domesticate, being cultivated in Yunnan
Yunnan
Yunnan is a province of the People's Republic of China, located in the far southwest of the country spanning approximately and with a population of 45.7 million . The capital of the province is Kunming. The province borders Burma, Laos, and Vietnam.Yunnan is situated in a mountainous area, with...

 on the edge of the Tibetan Plateau
Tibetan Plateau
The Tibetan Plateau , also known as the Qinghai–Tibetan Plateau is a vast, elevated plateau in Central Asia covering most of the Tibet Autonomous Region and Qinghai, in addition to smaller portions of western Sichuan, southwestern Gansu, and northern Yunnan in Western China and Ladakh in...

 or on the Plateau itself. Buckwheat was one of the earliest crops introduced by Europeans to North America. Dispersal around the globe was complete by 2006, when a variety developed in Canada was widely planted in China.

Buckwheat is a short season crop that does well on low-fertility or acidic soils, but the soil must be well drained. Too much fertilizer, especially nitrogen, will reduce yields. In hot climates, it can only be grown by sowing late in the season, so that it will bloom in cooler weather. The presence of pollinator
Pollinator
A pollinator is the biotic agent that moves pollen from the male anthers of a flower to the female stigma of a flower to accomplish fertilization or syngamy of the female gamete in the ovule of the flower by the male gamete from the pollen grain...

s greatly increases the yield. The nectar from buckwheat flower makes a dark-colored honey. Buckwheat is sometimes used as a green manure
Green manure
In agriculture, a green manure is a type of cover crop grown primarily to add nutrients and organic matter to the soil. Typically, a green manure crop is grown for a specific period of time , and then plowed under and incorporated into the soil while green or shortly after flowering...

, as a plant for erosion
Erosion
Erosion is when materials are removed from the surface and changed into something else. It only works by hydraulic actions and transport of solids in the natural environment, and leads to the deposition of these materials elsewhere...

 control, or as wildlife cover and feed.

Agricultural production

Buckwheat is raised for grain where a short season is available, either because it is used as a second crop in the season, or because the climate is limiting. Buckwheat can be a reliable cover crop in summer to fit a small slot of warm season for establishment. It establishes quickly, which suppresses summer weeds.

Historical data

A century ago, Russia
Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

 was the world leader in buckwheat production. Growing areas in the Russian Empire
Russian Empire
The Russian Empire was a state that existed from 1721 until the Russian Revolution of 1917. It was the successor to the Tsardom of Russia and the predecessor of the Soviet Union...

 were estimated at 6.5 million acres (26,000 km²), followed by those of France
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

 (0.9 million acres; 3,500 km²). In 1970, the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 grew an estimated 4.5 million acres (18,000 km²) of buckwheat. China
China
Chinese civilization may refer to:* China for more general discussion of the country.* Chinese culture* Greater China, the transnational community of ethnic Chinese.* History of China* Sinosphere, the area historically affected by Chinese culture...

 was then the world's top producer until 2005, with Russia becoming once again the top producer after 2007.

In the northeastern United States, buckwheat was a common crop in the 18th and 19th centuries. Cultivation declined sharply in the 20th century due to the use of nitrogen fertilizer, to which maize and wheat respond strongly. Over a million acres (4,000 km²) were harvested in the United States in 1918. By 1954, that had declined to 150000 acres (607 km²), and by 1964, the last year production statistics were gathered, only 50000 acres (202.3 km²) were grown.

Present-day production

Common buckwheat is by far the most important buckwheat species, economically, accounting for over 90% of the world's buckwheat production.
Worldwide buckwheat production
(s : semi-official data — e : estimated data — a : aggregated from official and estimated data)
Buckwheat Cultivated area
(hectare
Hectare
The hectare is a metric unit of area defined as 10,000 square metres , and primarily used in the measurement of land. In 1795, when the metric system was introduced, the are was defined as being 100 square metres and the hectare was thus 100 ares or 1/100 km2...

s)
Yield
(hectograms/ha)
Production
(tonnes)
Seed
(tonnes)
Countries 2005 2007 2005 2007 2005 2007 2005
 Russia 833,600 1,305,000 7,265 e 7,700 e 605,640 1,004,850 69,500 s
 Mainland China 834,000 e 900,000 e 8,992 8,888 750,000 e 800,000 e 87,570 e
 Ukraine 396,200 237,000 6,933 e 6,751 e 274,700 160,000 20,500 s
 Early Modern France 36,593 32,945 33,945 e 35,558 e 124,217 117,148 3,293 e
 Poland 67,531 90,000 e 10,675 e 9,777 e 72,096 88,000 e 5,500 e
 Kazakhstan 55,000 142,600 10,545 e 5,610 e 58,000 s 80,000 e 3,200 s
 United States 65,000 e 68,000 e 10,000 e 10,000 e 65,000 e 68,000 e 2,600 e
 Brazil 46,000 e 48,000 e 10,869 e 10,833 e 50,000 e 52,000 e 2,760 e
 Japan 44,700 44,600 e 6,979 e 7,623 e 31,200 34,000 e 1,341 e
 Lithuania 28,400 21,700 5,528 e 9,631 e 15,700 20,900 2,500 e
 Belarus 7,106 11,500 10,227 e 11,304 e 7,268 13,000 1,000 e
 Latvia 10,400 13,000 e 9,519 e 6,307 e 9,900 8,200 e
 Bhutan 4,500 e 4,600 e 14,888 e 14,782 e 6,700 6,800 e 360 e
 South Korea 2,257 2,650 e 9,937 e 11,320 e 2,243 3,000 e 90 e
 Canada 4,000 2,000 11,500 e 11,500 e 4,600 2,300 300 e
 Czech Republic 1,000 e 20,000 e 2,000 e 26 e
 Slovenia 811 809 17,916 e 9,406 e 1,453 761 52 e
 Hungary 752 800 e 6,156 e 5,000 e 463 400 e 60 e
 Estonia 676 314 7,174 e 9,554 e 485 300
 Slovakia 461 500 e 8,872 e 6,000 e 409 300 e
 Moldova 2,811 7,200 e 3,429 e 416 e 964 300 e 252 e
 Kyrgyzstan 378 600 e 9,179 e 8,333 e 347 500 e
 South Africa 1,000 e 1,000 e 3,000 e 3,000 e 300 e 300 e 65 e
 Independent State of Croatia 45 e 31,111 e 140 e 2 e
 Georgia (country) 100 e 100 e 10,000 e 10,000 e 100 s 100 e
World 2,443,321 a 2,934,918 a 8,529 e 8,385 e 2,083,925 a 2,461,159 a 200,974 a


Seeds

Starch
  • 71–78% in groats
    Groats
    Groats are the hulled grains of various cereals, such as oats, wheat, barley or buckwheat . Groats are whole grains that include the cereal germ and fiber-rich bran portion of the grain as well as the endosperm...

  • 70–91% in different types of flour
  • Starch
    Starch
    Starch or amylum is a carbohydrate consisting of a large number of glucose units joined together by glycosidic bonds. This polysaccharide is produced by all green plants as an energy store...

     is 25% amylose
    Amylose
    Amylose is a linear polymer made up of D-glucose units.This polysaccharide is one of the two components of starch, making up approximately 2-30% of the structure...

     and 75% amylopectin
    Amylopectin
    Amylopectin is a soluble polysaccharide and highly branched polymer of glucose found in plants. It is one of the two components of starch, the other being amylose.Glucose units are linked in a linear way with α glycosidic bonds...

    .
  • Depending on hydrothermal treatment, buckwheat groats contain 7–37% of resistant starch.

Proteins
  • Crude protein is 18%, with biological values
    Biological Value
    Biological value is a measure of the proportion of absorbed protein from a food which becomes incorporated into the proteins of the organism's body. It summarises how readily the broken down protein can be used in protein synthesis in the cells of the organism. Proteins are the major source of...

     above 90%. This can be explained by a high concentration of all essential amino acid
    Amino acid
    Amino acids are molecules containing an amine group, a carboxylic acid group and a side-chain that varies between different amino acids. The key elements of an amino acid are carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, and nitrogen...

    s, especially lysine
    Lysine
    Lysine is an α-amino acid with the chemical formula HO2CCH4NH2. It is an essential amino acid, which means that the human body cannot synthesize it. Its codons are AAA and AAG....

    , threonine
    Threonine
    Threonine is an α-amino acid with the chemical formula HO2CCHCHCH3. Its codons are ACU, ACA, ACC, and ACG. This essential amino acid is classified as polar...

    , tryptophan
    Tryptophan
    Tryptophan is one of the 20 standard amino acids, as well as an essential amino acid in the human diet. It is encoded in the standard genetic code as the codon UGG...

    , and the sulphur-containing amino acids.

Minerals
  • Rich in iron
    Iron
    Iron is a chemical element with the symbol Fe and atomic number 26. It is a metal in the first transition series. It is the most common element forming the planet Earth as a whole, forming much of Earth's outer and inner core. It is the fourth most common element in the Earth's crust...

     (60–100 ppm), zinc
    Zinc
    Zinc , or spelter , is a metallic chemical element; it has the symbol Zn and atomic number 30. It is the first element in group 12 of the periodic table. Zinc is, in some respects, chemically similar to magnesium, because its ion is of similar size and its only common oxidation state is +2...

     (20–30 ppm) and selenium
    Selenium
    Selenium is a chemical element with atomic number 34, chemical symbol Se, and an atomic mass of 78.96. It is a nonmetal, whose properties are intermediate between those of adjacent chalcogen elements sulfur and tellurium...

     (20–50 ppb)

Antioxidants
  • 10–200 ppm of rutin
    Rutin
    Rutin, also called rutoside, quercetin-3-O-rutinoside and sophorin, is a citrus flavonoid glycoside found in buckwheat, the leaves and petioles of Rheum species, and asparagus...

     and 0.1–2% of tannins

Aromatic compounds
Salicylaldehyde
Salicylaldehyde
Salicylaldehyde is the chemical compound with the formula C6H4CHO-2-OH. Along with 3-hydroxybenzaldehyde and 4-hydroxybenzaldehyde, it is one of the three isomers of hydroxybenzaldehyde. This colorless oily liquid has a bitter almond odor at higher concentration and a characteristic buckwheat...

 (2-hydroxybenzaldehyde) was identified as a characteristic component of buckwheat aroma. 2,5-Dimethyl-4-hydroxy-3(2H)-furanone, (E,E)-2,4-decadienal
(E,E)-2,4-Decadienal
-2,4-Decadienal is an aromatic substance found in butter, cooked beef, fish, potato chips, roasted peanut, buckwheat and wheat bread crumb....

, phenylacetaldehyde
Phenylacetaldehyde
Phenylacetaldehyde is an aromatic compound found in buckwheat, chocolate and many other foods and flowers.It is also responsible for the antibiotic activity of maggot therapy and it is also a compound that is added to cigarettes to improve their aroma....

, 2-methoxy-4-vinylphenol
2-Methoxy-4-vinylphenol
2-Methoxy-4-vinylphenol is an aromatic substance used as a flavoring agent. It is one of the compounds responsible for the natural aroma of buckwheat....

, (E)-2-nonenal
2-Nonenal
2-Nonenal is an unsaturated aldehyde which some research has associated with human body odor alterations during aging. The substance is also an important aroma component of aged beer and buckwheat. The odor of this substance is perceived as orris, fat and cucumber.In the April 2001 issue of the...

, decanal
Decanal
Decanal is an organic compound with the chemical formula C9H19CHO. It is the simplest ten-carbon aldehyde. Decanal occurs naturally and is used in fragrances and flavoring. Decanal occurs in nature and is an important component in citrus along with octanal, citral, and sinensal...

 and hexanal also contribute to its aroma. They all have odour activity value
Odour activity value
Odour activity value is a measure of importance of a specific compound to the odour of a sample . It is calculated as the ratio between the concentration of individual substance in a sample and the threshold concentration of this substance ....

 more than 50, but the aroma of these substances in an isolated state does not resemble buckwheat.
Inositol derivatives
Fagopyritol A1 and fagopyritol B1 (mono-galactosyl D-chiro-inositol isomers), fagopyritol A2 and fagopyritol B2 (di-galactosyl D-chiro-inositol isomers), and fagopyritol B3 (tri-galactosyl D-chiro-inositol)

Herb

Antioxidants
  • 1–10% rutin
    Rutin
    Rutin, also called rutoside, quercetin-3-O-rutinoside and sophorin, is a citrus flavonoid glycoside found in buckwheat, the leaves and petioles of Rheum species, and asparagus...

     and 1–10% tannins

Fagopyrin
  • 0.4 to 0.6 mg/g of fagopyrin
    Fagopyrin
    Fagopyrin is a naturally occurring substance in the buckwheat plant.Its chemical structure contains a naphthodianthrone skeleton similar that of to hypericin.-External links:*...

    s (at least 3 similar substances)

Food

The fruit is an achene
Achene
An achene is a type of simple dry fruit produced by many species of flowering plants. Achenes are monocarpellate and indehiscent...

, similar to sunflower
Sunflower
Sunflower is an annual plant native to the Americas. It possesses a large inflorescence . The sunflower got its name from its huge, fiery blooms, whose shape and image is often used to depict the sun. The sunflower has a rough, hairy stem, broad, coarsely toothed, rough leaves and circular heads...

 seed, with a single seed inside a hard outer hull. The starchy endosperm is white and makes up most or all of buckwheat flour. The seed coat is green or tan, which darkens buckwheat flour. The hull is dark brown or black, and some may be included in buckwheat flour as dark specks. The dark flour is known as blé noir (black wheat) in French, along with the name sarrasin (saracen).
Buckwheat noodles have been eaten by people from Tibet and northern China for a long time, as wheat can not be grown in the mountain regions. A special press made of wood log was built to press the dough into hot boiling water when making buckwheat noodles. Old presses found in Tibet and Shansi share the same basic design features. The Japanese and Koreans might have learned the making of buckwheat noodles from them.

Buckwheat noodle
Noodle
The noodle is a type of food, made from any of a variety of doughs, formed into long thin ribbons, strips, curly-cues, waves, helices, pipes, tubes, strings, or other various shapes, sometimes folded. They are usually cooked in a mixture of boiling water and/or oil. Depending upon the type, noodles...

s play a major role in the cuisines of Japan
Japan
Japan is an island nation in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of the Sea of Japan, China, North Korea, South Korea and Russia, stretching from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south...

 (soba
Soba
is the Japanese name for buckwheat. It is synonymous with a type of thin noodle made from buckwheat flour, and in Japan can refer to any thin noodle . Soba noodles are served either chilled with a dipping sauce, or in hot broth as a noodle soup...

), Korea
Korea
Korea ) is an East Asian geographic region that is currently divided into two separate sovereign states — North Korea and South Korea. Located on the Korean Peninsula, Korea is bordered by the People's Republic of China to the northwest, Russia to the northeast, and is separated from Japan to the...

 (naengmyeon
Naengmyeon
Naengmyeon is a Korean dish of long and thin hand-made noodles made from the flour and starch of various ingredients: buckwheat , potatoes, sweet potatoes, 칡냉면, naengmyun made with the starch from arrowroot , and kudzu...

, makguksu
Makguksu
Makguksu is a Korean buckwheat noodle dish served in a chilled broth. It is a local specialty of the Gangwon province of South Korea, and its capital city, Chuncheon.-Ingredients and preparation:...

and memil guksu) and the Valtellina
Valtellina
Valtellina or the Valtelline valley ; is a valley in the Lombardy region of northern Italy, bordering Switzerland. Today it is known for its skiing, its hot spring spas, its cheeses and its wines...

 region of Northern Italy
Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

 (pizzoccheri
Pizzoccheri
Pizzoccheri are a type of short tagliatelle, a flat ribbon pasta, made with 80% buckwheat flour and 20% wheat flour. When classically prepared in Valtellina or in Graubünden, they are cooked along with greens , and cubed potatoes...

). Soba noodles are the subject of deep cultural importance in Japan. In Korea
Korea
Korea ) is an East Asian geographic region that is currently divided into two separate sovereign states — North Korea and South Korea. Located on the Korean Peninsula, Korea is bordered by the People's Republic of China to the northwest, Russia to the northeast, and is separated from Japan to the...

, guksu (noodles) were widely made from buckwheat before it was replaced by wheat. The difficulty of making noodles from flour with no gluten has resulted in a traditional art developed around their manufacture by hand.

Buckwheat groats
Groats
Groats are the hulled grains of various cereals, such as oats, wheat, barley or buckwheat . Groats are whole grains that include the cereal germ and fiber-rich bran portion of the grain as well as the endosperm...

 are commonly used in western Asia
Asia
Asia is the world's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the eastern and northern hemispheres. It covers 8.7% of the Earth's total surface area and with approximately 3.879 billion people, it hosts 60% of the world's current human population...

 and eastern Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

. The porridge was common, and is often considered the definitive peasant dish. It is made from roasted groats that are cooked with broth to a texture similar to rice or bulgur
Bulgur
Bulgur is a cereal food made from several different wheat species, most often from durum wheat. In the United States it is most often made from white wheat. Its use is most common in Middle Eastern cuisine, Iran, Turkey, Greece, Armenia and Bulgaria...

. The dish was brought to America by Russian
Russians
The Russian people are an East Slavic ethnic group native to Russia, speaking the Russian language and primarily living in Russia and neighboring countries....

 and Polish
Poles
thumb|right|180px|The state flag of [[Poland]] as used by Polish government and diplomatic authoritiesThe Polish people, or Poles , are a nation indigenous to Poland. They are united by the Polish language, which belongs to the historical Lechitic subgroup of West Slavic languages of Central Europe...

 immigrants who called it kasha
Kasha
Kasha is a cereal commonly eaten in Eastern Europe. In English, kasha generally refers to buckwheat groats, but in Slavic countries, kasha refers to porridge in general and can be made from any cereal, especially buckwheat, wheat, barley, oats, millet, and rye...

, and they mixed it with pasta or used it as a filling for knish
Knish
A knish or knysh is an Eastern European, and Jewish snack food made popular in America by Jewish immigrants, eaten widely by Jewish and non-Jewish peoples alike.-History:...

es and blintz
Blintz
A blin, blintze, or blintz is a thin pancake. It is somewhat similar to a crêpe with the main difference being that yeast may be used in blini, but not in crêpes.-Etymology, origins, culture :...

es, and hence buckwheat prepared in this fashion is most commonly called "kasha" in America, but the groats themselves are called "gretchka" by Russian immigrants. Groats were the most widely used form of buckwheat worldwide during the 20th century, eaten primarily in Russia, Ukraine and Poland. The groats can also be sprouted
Sprouting
Sprouting is the practice of germinating seeds to be eaten either raw or cooked.They are a convenient way to have fresh vegetables for salads, or otherwise, in any season and can be germinated at home or produced industrially...

 and then eaten raw or cooked.

Buckwheat pancakes, sometimes raised with yeast
Yeast
Yeasts are eukaryotic micro-organisms classified in the kingdom Fungi, with 1,500 species currently described estimated to be only 1% of all fungal species. Most reproduce asexually by mitosis, and many do so by an asymmetric division process called budding...

, are eaten in several countries. They are known as buckwheat blinis
Blintz
A blin, blintze, or blintz is a thin pancake. It is somewhat similar to a crêpe with the main difference being that yeast may be used in blini, but not in crêpes.-Etymology, origins, culture :...

 in Russia
Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

, galette
Galette
Galette is a general term used in the French cuisine to designate various types of flat, round or freeform crusty cakes, similar in concept to a Chinese bing. One notable type is the galette des Rois eaten on the day of Epiphany...

s
in France
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

 (savoury crêpes made with buckwheat flour, water and eggs are associated with Lower Brittany
Brittany
Brittany is a cultural and administrative region in the north-west of France. Previously a kingdom and then a duchy, Brittany was united to the Kingdom of France in 1532 as a province. Brittany has also been referred to as Less, Lesser or Little Britain...

, whilst savoury galettes made without eggs are from Higher Brittany), ploye
Ploye
A ploye is a pancake type mix of buckwheat flour, wheat flour, baking powder and water which is extremely popular in the Madawaska region , Canada and northern Maine, United States....

s
in Acadia
Acadia
Acadia was the name given to lands in a portion of the French colonial empire of New France, in northeastern North America that included parts of eastern Quebec, the Maritime provinces, and modern-day Maine. At the end of the 16th century, France claimed territory stretching as far south as...

 and boûketes (which are named after the buckwheat plant) in the Wallonia region of Belgium. Similar pancakes were a common food in American pioneer days. They are light and foamy. The buckwheat flour gives them an earthy, mildly mushroom-like taste. In Ukraine, yeast rolls called hrechanyky are made from buckwheat.

Farina
Farina (food)
Farina is a cereal food, frequently described as mild-tasting, usually served warm, made from cereal grains. In contemporary American English use, the word usually refers to Cream of Wheat made from soft wheat. Wheat farina is a carbohydrate-rich food, often cooked in boiling water and served warm...

 made from groats are used for breakfast food, porridge
Porridge
Porridge is a dish made by boiling oats or other cereal meals in water, milk, or both. It is usually served hot in a bowl or dish...

, and thickening materials in soup
Soup
Soup is a generally warm food that is made by combining ingredients such as meat and vegetables with stock, juice, water, or another liquid. Hot soups are additionally characterized by boiling solid ingredients in liquids in a pot until the flavors are extracted, forming a broth.Traditionally,...

s, gravies
Gravy
Gravy is a sauce made often from the juices that run naturally from meat or vegetables during cooking. In North America the term can refer to a wider variety of sauces and gravy is often thicker than in Britain...

, and dressings. In Korea
Korea
Korea ) is an East Asian geographic region that is currently divided into two separate sovereign states — North Korea and South Korea. Located on the Korean Peninsula, Korea is bordered by the People's Republic of China to the northwest, Russia to the northeast, and is separated from Japan to the...

, buckwheat starch
Starch
Starch or amylum is a carbohydrate consisting of a large number of glucose units joined together by glycosidic bonds. This polysaccharide is produced by all green plants as an energy store...

 is used to make a jelly called memilmuk
Memilmuk
Memilmuk is a Korean food that is a variety of muk made from buckwheat starch, which has a jelly-like consistency. It is light gray-brown in color and is most commonly eaten as memilmuk muchim , a banchan in which chunks of memilmuk are mixed with kimchi, ground sesame seeds, and soy...

. It is also used with wheat
Wheat
Wheat is a cereal grain, originally from the Levant region of the Near East, but now cultivated worldwide. In 2007 world production of wheat was 607 million tons, making it the third most-produced cereal after maize and rice...

, maize
Maize
Maize known in many English-speaking countries as corn or mielie/mealie, is a grain domesticated by indigenous peoples in Mesoamerica in prehistoric times. The leafy stalk produces ears which contain seeds called kernels. Though technically a grain, maize kernels are used in cooking as a vegetable...

 (polenta
Polenta
Polenta is a dish made from boiled cornmeal. The word "polenta" is borrowed from Italian.-Description:Polenta is made with ground yellow or white cornmeal , which can be ground coarsely or finely depending on the region and the texture desired.As it is known today, polenta derives from earlier...

 taragna
in Northern Italy) or rice
Rice
Rice is the seed of the monocot plants Oryza sativa or Oryza glaberrima . As a cereal grain, it is the most important staple food for a large part of the world's human population, especially in East Asia, Southeast Asia, South Asia, the Middle East, and the West Indies...

 in bread
Bread
Bread is a staple food prepared by cooking a dough of flour and water and often additional ingredients. Doughs are usually baked, but in some cuisines breads are steamed , fried , or baked on an unoiled frying pan . It may be leavened or unleavened...

 and pasta
Pasta
Pasta is a staple food of traditional Italian cuisine, now of worldwide renown. It takes the form of unleavened dough, made in Italy, mostly of durum wheat , water and sometimes eggs. Pasta comes in a variety of different shapes that serve for both decoration and to act as a carrier for the...

 products.

Buckwheat contains no gluten
Gluten
Gluten is a protein composite found in foods processed from wheat and related grain species, including barley and rye...


and can consequently be eaten by people with coeliac disease
Coeliac disease
Coeliac disease , is an autoimmune disorder of the small intestine that occurs in genetically predisposed people of all ages from middle infancy onward...

 or gluten allergies. Many bread-like preparations have been developed. However, buckwheat can be a potent and potentially fatal allergen by itself. In sensitive people, it provokes IgE-mediated anaphylaxis. The cases of anaphylaxis induced by buckwheat ingestion have been reported in Korea, Japan and Europe, where it is more often described as a "hidden allergen". A recent article by Heffler et al. showed allergic reactions, even severe ones, induced by accidental ingestion of buckwheat as "hidden allergy", are not so rare as previously described.

Buckwheat is a good honey
Honey
Honey is a sweet food made by bees using nectar from flowers. The variety produced by honey bees is the one most commonly referred to and is the type of honey collected by beekeepers and consumed by humans...

 plant, producing a dark, strong monofloral honey
Monofloral honey
Monofloral honey is a type of honey which has a high value in the marketplace because it has a distinctive flavor or other attribute due to its being predominantly from the nectar of one plant species....

.

Beer

In recent years, buckwheat has been used as a substitute for other grains in gluten-free beer. Although it is not a cereal, buckwheat can be used in the same way as barley
Barley
Barley is a major cereal grain, a member of the grass family. It serves as a major animal fodder, as a base malt for beer and certain distilled beverages, and as a component of various health foods...

 to produce a malt
Malt
Malt is germinated cereal grains that have been dried in a process known as "malting". The grains are made to germinate by soaking in water, and are then halted from germinating further by drying with hot air...

 that can form the basis of a mash
Mashing
In brewing and distilling, mashing is the process of combining a mix of milled grain , known as the "grain bill", and water, known as "liquor", and heating this mixture...

 that will brew a beer
Beer
Beer is the world's most widely consumed andprobably oldest alcoholic beverage; it is the third most popular drink overall, after water and tea. It is produced by the brewing and fermentation of sugars, mainly derived from malted cereal grains, most commonly malted barley and malted wheat...

 without gliadin
Gliadin
Gliadin is a glycoprotein present in wheat and several other cereals within the grass genus Triticum. Gliadins are prolamins and are separated on the basis of electrophoretic mobility and isoelectric focusing.- Types :...

 or hordein
Hordein
Hordein is a glycoprotein, present in barley and some other cereals, together with gliadin and other glycoproteins as gluten.Some people are sensitive to hordein due to disorders such as celiac disease or gluten intolerance....

 (together gluten
Gluten
Gluten is a protein composite found in foods processed from wheat and related grain species, including barley and rye...

) and therefore can be suitable for coeliacs or others sensitive to certain glycoproteins.

Medicinal uses

Buckwheat contains a glucoside
Glucoside
A glucoside is a glycoside that is derived from glucose. Glucosides are common in plants, but rare in animals. Glucose is produced when a glucoside is hydrolysed by purely chemical means, or decomposed by fermentation or enzymes....

 named rutin
Rutin
Rutin, also called rutoside, quercetin-3-O-rutinoside and sophorin, is a citrus flavonoid glycoside found in buckwheat, the leaves and petioles of Rheum species, and asparagus...

, a medicinal chemical
Phytochemical
Phytochemicals are biologically active chemical compounds that occur naturally in plants . Phytochemicals are the molecules responsible for the color and organoleptic properties . For example, the deep purple color of blueberries and the smell of garlic...

 that strengthens capillary
Capillary
Capillaries are the smallest of a body's blood vessels and are parts of the microcirculation. They are only 1 cell thick. These microvessels, measuring 5-10 μm in diameter, connect arterioles and venules, and enable the exchange of water, oxygen, carbon dioxide, and many other nutrient and waste...

 walls, reducing hemorrhaging
Bleeding
Bleeding, technically known as hemorrhaging or haemorrhaging is the loss of blood or blood escape from the circulatory system...

 in people with high blood pressure
Hypertension
Hypertension or high blood pressure is a cardiac chronic medical condition in which the systemic arterial blood pressure is elevated. What that means is that the heart is having to work harder than it should to pump the blood around the body. Blood pressure involves two measurements, systolic and...

 and increasing microcirculation in people with chronic venous insufficiency
Chronic venous insufficiency
Chronic venous insufficiency or CVI is a medical condition where the veins cannot pump enough oxygen-poor blood back to the heart. It is sometimes referred to as an "impaired musculovenous pump", this is due to damaged or "incompetent" valves as may occur after deep vein thrombosis or phlebitis...

. Dried buckwheat leaves for tea were manufactured in Europe under the brand name "Fagorutin".

Buckwheat contains D-chiro-inositol
D-chiro-inositol
D-chiro-Inositol is a member of a family of related substances often referred to collectively as "inositol," although that term encompasses several isomers of questionable biological relevance...

, a component of the secondary messenger pathway for insulin
Insulin
Insulin is a hormone central to regulating carbohydrate and fat metabolism in the body. Insulin causes cells in the liver, muscle, and fat tissue to take up glucose from the blood, storing it as glycogen in the liver and muscle....

 signal transduction
Signal transduction
Signal transduction occurs when an extracellular signaling molecule activates a cell surface receptor. In turn, this receptor alters intracellular molecules creating a response...

 found to be deficient in Type II diabetes
Diabetes mellitus
Diabetes mellitus, often simply referred to as diabetes, is a group of metabolic diseases in which a person has high blood sugar, either because the body does not produce enough insulin, or because cells do not respond to the insulin that is produced...

 and polycystic ovary syndrome
Polycystic ovary syndrome
Polycystic ovary syndrome is one of the most common female endocrine disorders. PCOS is a complex, heterogeneous disorder of uncertain aetiology, but there is strong evidence that it can to a large degree be classified as a genetic disease....

. It is being studied for use in treating Type II diabetes. Research on D-chiro-inositol and PCOS has shown promising results.

A buckwheat protein has been found to bind cholesterol
Cholesterol
Cholesterol is a complex isoprenoid. Specifically, it is a waxy steroid of fat that is produced in the liver or intestines. It is used to produce hormones and cell membranes and is transported in the blood plasma of all mammals. It is an essential structural component of mammalian cell membranes...

 tightly. It is being studied for reducing plasma cholesterol in people with hyperlipidemia
Hyperlipidemia
Hyperlipidemia, hyperlipoproteinemia, or hyperlipidaemia is the condition of abnormally elevated levels of any or all lipids and/or lipoproteins in the blood...

.

It is rich in dietary fiber
Dietary fiber
Dietary fiber, dietary fibre, or sometimes roughage is the indigestible portion of plant foods having two main components:* soluble fiber that is readily fermented in the colon into gases and physiologically active byproducts, and* insoluble fiber that is metabolically inert, absorbing water as it...

 and one of the laxative
Laxative
Laxatives are foods, compounds, or drugs taken to induce bowel movements or to loosen the stool, most often taken to treat constipation. Certain stimulant, lubricant, and saline laxatives are used to evacuate the colon for rectal and/or bowel examinations, and may be supplemented by enemas under...

 foods.

Upholstery filling

Buckwheat hulls are used as filling for a variety of upholstered
Upholstery
Upholstery is the work of providing furniture, especially seats, with padding, springs, webbing, and fabric or leather covers. The word upholstery comes from the Middle English word upholder, which referred to a tradesman who held up his goods. The term is equally applicable to domestic,...

 goods, including pillow
Pillow
A pillow is a large cushion support for the head, usually used while sleeping in a bed, or for the body as used on a couch or chair. There are also throw pillows , which are pillows that are purely decorative and not designed for support or comfort...

s and zafu
Zafu
A zafu is a round cushion. Although also a utilitarian accessory, it is most well known for its use in zazen Zen meditation.-Name:...

. The hulls are durable and do not conduct or reflect heat as much as synthetic fills. They are sometimes marketed as an alternative natural fill to feathers for those with allergies. However, medical studies to measure the health effects of buckwheat hull pillows manufactured with unprocessed and uncleaned hulls, concluded such buckwheat pillows do contain higher levels of a potential allergen that may trigger asthma in susceptible individuals than do new synthetic-filled pillows.

Biological control

Buckwheat is currently being researched, and actively used, as a pollen and nectar source to increase natural enemy numbers to control crop pests in New Zealand.

Festivals

The buckwheat plant is celebrated in Kingwood, West Virginia
Kingwood, West Virginia
Kingwood is a town in and the county seat of Preston County, West Virginia, United States, and is part of the Pittsburgh DMA. Kingwood was founded in 1815...

 at their Buckwheat Festival, where people can participate in swine, cattle, and sheep judging contests, vegetable contests, and craft fairs. The area fire departments also play an important role in the series of parades that occur there. Each year there is a King Buckwheat and Queen Ceres elected. Also there are many rides, and homemade, homegrown buckwheat cakes and sausage are served.

Kuttu ka atta

On Hindu fasting days (Navaratri mainly, also Maha Shivaratri
Maha Shivaratri
Maha Shivratri or Maha Sivaratri or Shivaratri or Sivarathri is a Hindu festival celebrated every year on the 13th night/14th day in the Krishna Paksha of the month of Maagha or Phalguna...

), northern states of India eat items made of buckwheat flour, because, unlike wheat or rice, buckwheat is not a cereal, and thus deemed acceptable. Cereals are not generally eaten during Hindu fasts. Rules of the fast are left for the individuals to decide; some people do not drink water during their fast (nirjal upwaas), while some just give up cereals and salt. The preparation varies across India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

. The famous ones are kuttu ki puri and kuttu pakoras. In most of northern and western states, they call this kuttu ka atta. In Punjab, it is called okhla, too, and is extensively used in flour form.

External links

As found on the website of the Carl Hayden Bee Research Center of the USDA
United States Department of Agriculture
The United States Department of Agriculture is the United States federal executive department responsible for developing and executing U.S. federal government policy on farming, agriculture, and food...

Agricultural Research Service
.

Recipes
The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.
 
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