We get asked a lot of the time, is there any difference between the quinoa we grow in the UK and the quinoa from the traditional growing regions of South America?
Well put simply, yes there is. Whilst the seeds planted in Peru & Bolivia are best suited to the Andean region, our European varieties are bred to thrive in a more temperate climate, where they can grow and mature at their own pace during our summer months. You can see from the pictures that our quinoa plants visually look quite different in appearance from their South American counterpart, with our quinoa being grown on a far higher plant density to ensure we're sufficiently able to cope with weed competition (we don't use any pesticides to grow our quinoa crops).
The grains produced are also markedly different; using our patented ‘non-bitter’ whole-grain quinoa varieties means that we simply harvest the crop, remove impurities and then the seeds are ready to be cooked. In contrast, most other quinoa varieties produced abroad have a naturally occurring soapy coating on the seed surface called saponin, which needs to be removed prior to consumption to avoid an unpleasant bitter flavour. During the process of removing these saponins, the outer seed hull is removed giving the seeds a visually whiter appearance, which is why in comparison our British quinoa appears slightly more golden in colour. This is significant, as it means our British quinoa retains the highly nutritious outer layer which is full of minerals and fibre, making our quinoa one of the most nutritious in the world and is almost akin to being the brown rice equivalent of quinoa. Not only this, but by retaining the outer seed coating we have a much deeper and richer flavour to our grains - try it for yourself and see which you prefer!
Our exclusive breeding programme is very important to the on-going development of British quinoa, with new varieties producing bigger and brighter grains just around the corner. The quinoa breeding team are also working hard to develop wholegrain red and black quinoa, which means in years to come we will be able to offer the full spectrum of quinoa colours as a sustainable British grown product!
Quinoa growing at low density in the highlands of Bolivia.
A crop of British Quinoa growing at high density
The British Quinoa Company Ltd