Amaranth : Hopi Red Dye
Deep-red flower bracts is natural dye in world renowned Hopi piki bread
Originally grown as a dye plant by the southwestern Hopi Nation, this variety has the reddest seedlings of any amaranth known, making it a natural for micro-green mixes! Plants reach 4-6 feet and cut a most striking figure in the garden! The Hopis use the deep-red flower bract as a natural dye to color their world-renowned piki bread.Amaranthaceae Amaranthus cruentus
As harvest time approaches, examine the flower heads regularly for ripe seed. You can tell if the seed is ripe by biting it; a fully ripe seed will be firm rather than chewy. Don't wait to long to harvest or seed will drop. You can also enjoy the leaves. Younger leaves will be tender and more flavorful, but you can also leave the plants to grow taller and harvest the whole stem.
When and How
As harvest time approaches, examine the flower heads regularly for ripe seed. You can tell if the seed is ripe by biting it; a fully ripe seed will be firm rather than chewy. Don’t wait too long to harvest, or seed will begin to drop.
When the plants begin to wither, or frost threatens, gather the entire heads by hand. If you only have a few plants you can bend the heads over a bucket and rub them to loosen the seed. If you have a lot of plants, cut the whole heads and lay them on a tarp to dry. Then beat, crush or walk on the dry heads to loosen the seeds. Other than winnowing to remove debris, they need no other preparation for eating. It is important that the seed be dried thoroughly for storage. Small quantities can be dried in a paper grocery bag.
Start by harvest thinning extra plants, to get them to the correct spacing of 12 - 24" apart. The leaves are best before the flowers appear. Don't harvest leaves off plants that you wish to harvest grain from as this encourages leafy production instead of seed production.
Leaves: These are high in vitamins A and C, as well as protein, iron and calcium. Amaranth leaves also contain oxalic acid (though less than Spinach), which can react with calcium and make it less available to the body. Fortunately this is not a significant problem to anyone with a reasonable intake of calcium. It may also contribute to the formation of kidney stones, so anyone prone to them should probably avoid the leaves (and Spinach). If used as a potherb, most of the oxalic acid will be leached out in the cooking water.
Seeds: These are rich in high quality protein and have a better amino acid balance than almost any other common vegetable protein. They even contain the lysine and methionine so often lacking in plant proteins. The seed also contains about 20% oil, as well as the minerals calcium, magnesium, phosphorus and iron.