Food Gardening Network

Growing Good Food at Home

A Word About Varieties of Quinoa Plants

Red and green quinoa growing in a field

Red and green quinoa growing in a field

When you think about how you’ll use your own harvested quinoa, three main categories determine what varieties you should grow:

  • Quinoa for salads and bowls: black and red varieties
  • Quinoa for baking and as a rice substitute: white varieties
  • ‘All-purpose’ quinoa: white varieties

Now, quinoa is very versatile for culinary purposes, so these aren’t hard-and-fast rules—you can use white quinoa in a salad and red and black quinoa as a rice substitute.

Quinoa Harvesting Bonus Tips: Pick your quinoa seed heads by hand. Wait until the leaves are dropping off, usually after a light frost. Bend the seed heads into a bucket and clip them off. Strip off the seeds with a gloved hand and then blow on them—or sift them—to remove debris and pieces of hull. Spread the seeds on a screen to dry. Once it’s dry, place the quinoa in an airtight container and store in a dark place (such as inside a cupboard). The quinoa will keep for six months. While yields vary depending on variety and growing conditions, you can expect to harvest one pound of quinoa for every 10 plants.

Do you grow different varieties of quinoa? Which ones do you grow? Please tell us how you use your quinoa harvest—and what you do with all the excess quinoa seeds. Do you make flour? Or do you give them away to family, friends, and neighbors to enjoy?

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