If you looked out on a field of mature teff, it would look like overgrown grass falling over with the weight of the seeds. By far the biggest crop in Ethiopian agriculture, teff has been used in Ethiopian cooking for thousands of years. With the ancient grains trend showing no signs of slowing down, more people are discovering the benefits of this tiny grain. In Ethiopian cooking, teff flour is mixed with water and fermented, then baked to make injera which resembles a thin, porous pancake with a slightly sour taste. Now that teff is more popular, recipes using the flour and the whole grain are appearing in health magazines and blogs in new and creative ways.
The most significant nutrients found in teff are protein, calcium, iron and the essential amino acids leucine and lysine. However, teff is a source of many other vitamins and minerals as shown below.
Minerals: Phosphorous, Potassium, Magnesium, Calcium, Sodium, Iron, Zinc
Vitamins: Vitamin A (IU), Niacin, Vitamin K, Vitamin B6, Thiamin, Riboflavin, Vitamin E
Teff is nearly a complete protein containing 8 of the 9 essential amino acids our body cannot make on its own, making it an excellent protein source for those looking to decrease their meat intake. Teff’s high dietary fiber content makes it a good source of resistant starch, which helps to keep you full and to promote helpful probiotics in your gut.
We plant teff in hard packed soil in mid-May after any chance of frost has passed. Depending on moisture, the seeds can germinate in as few as three days. The field begins to turn a hazy light green after about nine days.
In mid July, we start to see the head of teff develop small green seeds and as August rolls around those seeds grow and turn brown or ivory depending on the variety.
By late August, the grains have fully matured. With a close eye on the weather forecast, we cut the teff and spread it in windrows to dry for several days, then use our combine harvester to carefully thresh (separate) the tiny teff grains from the straw.
Finally, the teff is cleaned which involves removing any bits of stalk, weed seeds, or dirt that was picked up with the combine.