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Quinoa Flour 101 + Make Your Own Quinoa Flour

Posted May 13 2012 4:00pm

I've been promising to share photos and a description of how to make your own quinoa flour with plain quinoa seeds, and now (at last!) I can cross it off of the to-do list. 

I *LOVE* baking with quinoa flour, so I hope this encourages you to give it a try!

Quinoa Flour 101
Quinoa flour is made by grinding quinoa seeds to a fine consistency. It looks and feels like all-purpose wheat flour and is easily adapted to a broad range of baking recipes, from desserts to muffins to breads (with the exception of yeast breads). Quinoa flour can also be added directly to soups and stews as a thickening agent, or used like a protein powder in smoothies and shakes.

Gluten-Free + Fuss-Free!
Unlike other gluten-free flours or flour blends, there is no need to add gums (such as xanthan gum or guar gum) to make quinoa flour “work” in baking recipes, a feature that is particularly appealing to home bakers interested in gluten-free baking, incorporating nutritious non-wheat flours into their diets or creating baked goods that fit into a high-protein/low-carbohydrate diet. Most importantly, quinoa flour, with its naturally nutty and slightly sweet flavor, appeals to anyone interested in delicious baked goods.

Trying it For the First Time
Because quinoa flour has a distinctive earthy, nutty flavor, you may want to begin with recipes that feature other bold flavors, such as dark molasses, cocoa powder or a mix of strong spices. The more familiar you become with quinoa flour, the more you will love the unique flavor it imparts to recipes.

You can also substitute a small amount (e.g., 1/4 to 1/3 the total amount of wheat flour) with quinoa flour for a healthy, high-protein, whole-grain boost.

To quinoa!

Some enlightened cooking quinoa flour recipes to try:

A few quinoa flour Recipes from other sites
Quinoa Almond-Butter Cookies (from wellsphere)
Quinoa Peanut Butter Cookies (Bob’s Red Mill)

Make Your Own Quinoa Flour!
While quinoa flour is readily available in many supermarkets — typically in the health food section — and natural food stores, you can also make your own at home, using a grain mill or a clean coffee or spice grinder. This is a great way to experiment with quinoa flour without buying an entire package of it; it is less expensive to grind your own.

Place 1/4 cup of quinoa seeds in the grinder (adding any more will overload the grinder and prevent the seeds from being ground to a fine consistency). Using on/off pulses, process, shaking the grinder every few pulses to ensure an even grind, until the seeds are finely and evenly ground. Repeat with more seeds until you have the desired amount of flour. 
1/4 cup whole quinoa seeds yields about 1/3 cup of fine quinoa flour. Store quinoa flour in an airtight container of the refrigerator for up to 6 months, or freeze for up to 1 year.
Note: I have tried grinding seeds in a blender and two types of food processors without good results. The coffee/spice grinder is the only device that will grind the seeds into a fine flour, The other appliances create a more coarse meal. Fortunately, the grinders are very affordable and can be used fro, well, spices and coffee, as well as grinding other whole grains into flour. A worthy purchase!  
Here is a great one for under $15: Proctor Silex Coffee Grinder

Do I need to rinse my quinoa before grinding? (added May 14, 2012)

No. Virtually all quinoa that reaches consumers in North America and Europe has already had the saponin removed (this includes quinoa flour and quinoa flakes). The label will typically indicate if it has been pre-rinsed. When instructons are given to rinse quinoa these days, it is typically just a brief rinse to remove any trace amounts of saponin residue that may remain during processing before use.

If you are uncertain as to whether the quinoa you have purchased has had the saponin removed (for example, quinoa from a bulk foods container), reserve it for another use besides quinoa flour (and rinse the quinoa thoroughly when you are ready to use it in another preparation).

Pulse for about 10-15 seconds at a time, shaking the grinder up and down as you go. The shaking is key: it ensures that the flour will be very fine and evenly ground. Keep it up until the flour is very fine to the touch, about 1-1/2 minutes total.
And there you have it! Ultra-fine quinoa flour in just over 1 minute!

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