East Anglian-grown quinoa takes off as versatile food ingredient
- Credit: Red Flame Comms
A protein-rich ‘superfood’ almost unheard of in the UK until about five years ago is taking off as a British ingredient after being grown successfully in Suffolk and Essex.
Quinoa, which originates from South America, used to be only imported but now East Anglian growers Fairking, based at Marks Tey, and Home Farm (Nacton), near Ipswich, have begun to grow it for the home market.
As a result of the soaring popularity of the seed crop, it can now be found in a wide range of foods including breads, muffins, protein bars, soups, salads, ready meals, pastas and rice-mixes.
Food ingredients firm EDME, which is based at Mistley, near Manningtree, and supplies bakers and manufacturers, said the new British-grown crop offered advantages, including health benefits.
The grains of South American varieties are ‘polished’ - a process that significantly reduces fibre content - while the variety grown by Fairking and Home Farm was unrefined wholegrain and therefore delivered better health benefits, explained Mike Carr of EDME.
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“Quinoa is one of the most protein-rich plant-based foods there is,” he said.
“It’s a complete source of protein that contains all nine of the essential amino acids. It is also high in nutrients such as vitamins E and B. One portion of quinoa contains nearly 60% of the recommended intake of manganese, 30% of magnesium and 19% of folate.”
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EDME mills quinoa flour for Halesworth-based British pulses and grains supplier Hodmedod, which sells UK-grown produce to the public through independent retailers and online. EDME gets most of its quinoa from Hodmedod and this is grown by Fairking in Essex, said Scott Pattinson of EDME.
“The reason EDME was founded in the East Anglian region in the 1880s was down to the plentiful supply of top quality grain,” he said.
“We now import a few raw materials, but are delighted to see agricultural pioneers introducing crop varieties from overseas to the area. It reduces HGV food miles, which is good for the environment - and adds to the country’s food resilience.”
Quinoa attracts some manufacturers because it is gluten-free or because of its nutritional value, but it is also a “fantastic” ingredient, said Mike.