Colorado’s hottest grain is gluten-free, nutrient-dense, nice in beer and about to be your new fav pantry staple

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By Daliah Singer, Particular to The Denver Publish
“I don’t know what millet is, however I prefer it.”
That was the 10-word overview my husband gave the crispy millet tater tots from Boulder-based RollinGreens that I had simply pulled out of the oven.
It’s not an uncommon response. Although Colorado grows greater than half of all of the millet in the US, the seed stays international to many, usually ignored in favor of different stylish superfoods like quinoa, chia seed and flax.
“I really feel like millet is an unsung hero,” stated Andy Clark, proprietor of Moxie Feed & Seed in North Boulder and Moxie Bread Co. in Louisville. “It’s a well-known phrase and a well-known merchandise, but it surely most likely doesn’t get the eye it deserves.”
Millet has been a staple crop in Africa and Asia for hundreds of years. Foxtail and Proso millet (the latter of which is Colorado’s focus) have been domesticated in China for round 10,000 years. The grain didn’t arrive in Colorado till the late 1800s when it was grown for livestock feed. Across the 1960s, “as folks began feeding birds, millet was a most well-liked fowl meals,” stated Ron Meyer, an extension agronomist at Colorado State College.
It wasn’t till the final 5 or so years that American customers actually began to concentrate to the traditional seed as one thing aside from pet meals. As wholesome consuming and gluten-free diets have grow to be extra fashionable, so has millet as a result of it’s naturally gluten-free, simply digestible, excessive in fiber and magnesium, and is a supply of protein. (Complete Meals Market’s fashionable Seeduction Bread, which contains millet, has been out there for a decade.)
“We went from a primarily birdseed-only market … to a meals market,” Meyer stated.
Golden Prairie Millet is a family-owned, natural millet farm — full with good boy workers, pictured right here — in Nunn, Colo. (Offered by Golden Prairie Millet)
Millet, which is grown primarily in jap and northeastern Colorado, does properly in Colorado’s robust local weather. It tolerates our high-PH, low-organic-matter soils and enjoys our heat days and funky nights. Plus, it’s drought-tolerant.
Nonetheless, millet stays a minor crop, with solely about 340,000 acres dedicated to the seed in Colorado. As compared, Equipment Carson County alone devotes 300,000 acres to wheat. Most farmers who develop millet accomplish that as a part of a wholesome crop rotation, not as a main product.
Golden Prairie, a household farm in Nunn, is amongst them. President and proprietor Jean Hediger began rising natural millet greater than 15 years in the past as a result of she wanted a spring crop. That call has been good for her land and for her pocketbook. Gross sales of millet have truly risen through the pandemic as customers search shelf-stable and bulk choices.
“It’s discovery. That simply occurs with meals,” Hediger stated. “Shoppers are extra conscientious about supporting American agriculture. Shoppers are extra conscientious of supporting native meals. And individuals are involved about the environment. A mix of all of these issues helped millet grow to be extra fashionable.”
As we speak, Golden Prairie is without doubt one of the largest distributors of natural millet within the nation. Domestically, its millet will be discovered within the bulk meals sections of pure grocery shops throughout Colorado, together with various Pure Grocers areas.
Eric Skokan, the chef-farmer behind Black Cat Natural Farm, views millet as a “win-win” crop. It tastes good, so he can each put it to use in his eating places and promote the ingredient on to customers, plus it helps hold his land nourished.
“As a substitute of basing a delicacies on meals that don’t develop properly in Colorado, why not elevate the issues which are a very good match for our local weather right here?” he stated.
Moxie’s Clark is creating a Rocky Mountain seed mix that features millet from CleanDirt Farm in Sterling, native corn, sunflower seeds and extra. Will probably be out there on the market at each areas later this month. Shoppers additionally can buy natural Colorado millet to cook dinner at dwelling.
Millet grows simply in Colorado as a result of it’s drought-tolerant and may deal with our difficult soil. Golden Prairie Millet is a family-owned, natural millet farm in Nunn, Colo. (Offered by Golden Prairie Millet)
Some cooks are additionally incorporating the regionally grown ingredient into their menus. Samuel McCandless, govt chef at Arcana, added millet to a marinated vegetable and quinoa dish, in addition to within the restaurant’s cornbread. Skokan, who can be the purveyor of Black Cat Farm Desk Bistro, expects so as to add some millet dishes after he harvests it in late summer time. He might promote some at his farm stand, too.
Even native breweries are seeing the advantages: A few of the gluten-free choices from New Planet Beer and Holidaily Brewing Firm are made with millet.
RELATED: How Holidaily Brewing and a pair meals vans created a gluten-free utopia in Golden

With extra folks cooking at dwelling — and experimenting with new-to-them components within the face of picked-over grocery retailer cabinets — now’s a becoming time to offer millet a style. However what precisely must you do with the grain upon getting it?

Clark and RollinGreens’ co-founder and CEO Lindsey Cunningham each advocate a millet-based porridge. Although it cooks like rice, the seed doesn’t maintain its form the way in which quinoa does; it has extra of a fluffy texture. For a savory lunchtime meal, Clark recommends cooking millet, amaranth and quinoa with toasted sesame oil, garlic, chili flakes and cumin.
“It’s a nutrient-dense, hike-1,000-miles kind of meal,” he stated.
Skokan likes to arrange millet skillet desserts. He cooks the seed, lets it cool, provides entire eggs and finely diced greens “to make a thick, mashed potato- or porridge-like combine,” after which kinds them into desserts and crisps them up. He suggests pairing the discs with smoked or grilled meats.
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For a sweeter deal with, Skokan grinds the uncooked grain with cocoa nibs, butter and sugar in a meals processor after which presses the combination right into a crust. Layer it with chocolate pudding or cheesecake for a wholesome(ish) dessert.
Or, simply activate the oven and go away the cooking to another person. RollinGreens’ three flavors of Historic Grains Millet Tots will be discovered within the frozen meals aisle at grocery shops throughout Colorado or bought on-line from the corporate’s web site. The recipe was a buyer favourite at Ryan and Lindsey Cunningham’s namesake (and now retired) meals truck.
“Millet is that this nutrient-dense, historic entire grain that’s tremendous underutilized,” Lindsey stated. “There’s little doubt extra folks ought to be consuming millet.”
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