Is buckwheat gluten-free? This question has crossed the minds of countless new followers of a gluten-free diet. The good news is that despite the presence of "wheat" in its name, buckwheat is completely gluten-free. This article will look at why this is the case and what you need to know to enjoy buckwheat safely.
What is buckwheat?
Despite its name, buckWHEAT is not related to wheat and interestingly enough is not even a grain. In fact, buckwheat, or beech wheat is a seed that is obtained from a flowering plant called Fagopyrum esculentum, which is, related to... rhubarb. Yes, you read it correctly 🙂
Buckwheat is often considered a pseudo cereal, which means it is a non-grass plant that is used in the same way as cereal grains such as wheat, oats, and barley.
Is buckwheat gluten-free?
I grew up eating buckwheat multiple times a week. Little did I know that it will become a staple in my diet many years after. Ever since I found out that I have non-celiac gluten sensitivity, buckwheat has become my go-to product.
As mentioned above, buckwheat has no connection to wheat and is 100% gluten-free which means it is safe for people on a gluten-free diet, people who have celiac disease, or gluten sensitivity.
The health benefits of buckwheat
There is a good reason why buckwheat is so popular in many countries around the globe. The health benefits of buckwheat are well-researched and known. Like other pseudo grains such as quinoa, amaranth, millet, or teff, buckwheat has many health benefits:
- Blood sugar control. Buckwheat intake is linked to lower blood sugar levels in people with diabetes.
- Heart health. This delicious pseudo grain might improve heart health. Buckwheat is high in rutin, an antioxidant known to prevent the formation of blood clots and decrease inflammation and blood pressure.
Some studies indicate that people who regularly eat buckwheat products have lower cholesterol levels and triglycerides. (source)
What is the difference between whole buckwheat groats and kasha?
While buckwheat and kasha are used quite often interchangeably, they have quite big differences.
"Kasha" is a Russian word that refers to a type of porridge. In Russia (and in many other countries in Eastern Europe), kasha typically refers to a dish made from whole or cracked grains, such as buckwheat, oats, or barley, that have been cooked in water or milk until soft and porridge-like in texture.
However, in the United States and Australia, the word kasha became a synonym for roasted buckwheat groats.
Most buckwheat groats you will find on your supermarket shelves will be unroasted buckwheat groats, that have light green color. The taste of unroasted buckwheat is mild and quite neutral while the roasted buckwheat has a strong nutty flavor and aroma.
Both raw buckwheat and roasted buckwheat (kasha) have their own unique nutritional benefits and taste and can be enjoyed in many different ways.
Where to buy buckwheat?
Nowadays buckwheat is widely available in most grocery stores and health food stores:
- Local grocery store: Buckwheat is often found in the health food aisle.
- Health food stores: Most health food stores carry a wide variety of gluten-free products, including buckwheat. You might also find other gluten-free products made of buckwheat, such as buckwheat flour or buckwheat noodles.
- Online retailers: If you can't find buckwheat in your local stores, online retailers, can be a great option. Amazon always has Bob's Red Mill Organic Gluten-Free Buckwheat Groats in stock.
- Farmers markets: A local farmers market can be a great option if you prefer to buy locally grown produce.
When purchasing buckwheat, be sure to always check the label to ensure that it is certified gluten-free if you are following a gluten-free diet.
How to store buckwheat
Buckwheat is a great product to buy in bulk because of its long shelf life. Store the buckwheat in an airtight container with a tight-fitting lid in a cool, dry, and dark place, such as a pantry or cupboard.
If you have a large quantity of buckwheat, freezing it will help to extend its shelf life and prevent it from going rancid.
To freeze buckwheat, place it in an airtight freezer-safe container and store it in the freezer for up to 6 months.
How to use buckwheat
Buckwheat has been around for centuries and has been a staple in many cuisines around the globe. From Russian blinis and kasha to Japanese soba noodles, there are countless buckwheat recipes out there. Buckwheat is a versatile ingredient and is a great addition to any diet.
Side dish. Despite the popularity of using buckwheat as a sweet dish, especially for blinis and pancakes, buckwheat can also be used in the same way you would use rice or quinoa. I personally love buckwheat with my Creamy Chicken and Mushrooms.
Soups and stews. Yes, you can add buckwheat to soups and stews for extra nutrition and texture. Buckwheat is also a great thickener in soups and stews.
Buckwheat flour. Make buckwheat flour from buckwheat groats and use it for gluten-free baking. Enjoy pancakes, blinis, muffins, and more. Try these vegan and gluten-free buckwheat pancakes. There's nothing like a hearty pancake breakfast to start your day!
Kasha - buckwheat porridge. Enjoy it the traditional way. Cook the buckwheat in milk or water the same way you would cook oats. You can add some salt or honey depending on your preferences.
Use it in salads. Try this delicious gluten-free, buckwheat salad with apples and cranberries.
Make buckwheat bread. Follow my simple one-ingredient buckwheat bread recipe to make delicious and nutritious bread at home.
Make a pizza crust. What could be better than a homemade pizza that is crunchy on the outside and nice and soft in the middle? A gluten-free pizza of course! Made with, you guessed it, buckwheat flour!
If you would like to learn how to cook buckwheat groats (or kasha) make sure to read my recipe to find out how to do it in the easiest way possible while having perfect fluffy buckwheat every time.
While we now know that buckwheat itself is naturally gluten-free, some buckwheat products may be at risk of gluten contamination. Some buckwheat products that may contain gluten include:
Buckwheat groats. Cross-contamination can occur if buckwheat is processed in a facility that also processes wheat or other gluten-containing grains. To avoid gluten contamination, look for certified gluten-free buckwheat products or purchase your buckwheat from a source that guarantees the absence of gluten. Thoroughly washing raw buckwheat groats before cooking will help remove any potential gluten contamination.
Buckwheat noodles. Japanese soba noodles are traditionally made with buckwheat flour and are gluten-free, which makes them a great choice for people with gluten intolerance or celiac disease. However, keep in mind that modern soba noodles often contain wheat flour. Look for certified gluten-free soba noodles.
Buckwheat cereal and granola. When purchasing cereal and granola, make sure to read the labels, looking for gluten-free certified products. Cereal and granola often contain gluten-containing ingredients such as wheat and oats.
Buckwheat flour. Once again, read the labels. Is the buckwheat flour certified gluten-free? Does it contain any other ingredients such as wheat or oats?
As you can see, buckwheat is 100% gluten-free and can be a beautiful addition to a gluten-free diet. It is delicious, nutritious, and easy to prepare. With just a few little precautions, you can safely enjoy the nutritional benefits of buckwheat as part of a gluten-free lifestyle.
I hope you have learned something new and found this article helpful. If so, please give me a star rating and leave a comment below.