The Backyard Larder

A place to explore and buy perennial vegetables and other food plants.

Good King Henry Grain

Good King Henry is closely related to quinoa – they are both members of the ‘goosefoot’ (from the shape of their leaves) or Chenopodioideae sub-family. So I was interested in using Good King Henry as a pseudocereal just as quinoa is used (a pseudocereal is a non-grass plant whose seed is used as a grain in a similar way to the seed of grasses like wheat, oats and barley i.e. for cooking or for grinding into flour).

I harvested 130g (uncleaned) seed from my six Good King Henry plants. (This is a low yield compared to the masses of seed you get from quinoa but Good King Henry is basically a wild, unimproved plant and higher yielding plants could be bred. The advantage over quinoa would be its perennial nature and easy cultivation. These plants have been looking after themselves for years, I just tidy them up and weed them a bit once a year. I should probably feed them occasionally too but haven’t yet.)

Ripe Good King Henry seed

There is more seed still to ripen on younger stems.

Unripe Good King Henry seed

To loosen the seed from the stem I just had to run each stem through my fingers. There were lots of translucent seed husks and bit of stem in the seed but it cleaned up without much effort simply by pouring it from one plastic tub to another on a breezy afternoon on the allotment. I found I could get rid of the chaff more quickly by pouring the seed from a greater height – with the added excitement of the risk of losing the lot onto the grass if the wind changed speed mid-pour! Doing the whole operation over a larger bin would have been wiser.

Back home I measured out some seed to make some rosemary crackers following this recipe from Wishful Chef as a guide. I decided to use half Good King Henry flour and half plain white wheat flour.

Cleaned seed

I ground the seed in a Vitamix blender. We have an old model of this blender which manages to grind grains into reasonably fine flour – the resulting flour was still very slightly gritty to the touch.

Seed ground into flour

The dough came together well…

Making the crackers

and was easy to roll out and cut into rounds…

Cutting out the crackers

Baked in a hot oven for ten minutes they gave these….

Rosemary crackers

Rosemary crackers

Odd little dark crackers! (But could catch on – we went into a ‘bistro’ a few days ago and Stew ordered a quinoa burger which was served in a black bread bun. They are probably trendy – but new to us!) To me the crackers were rather strong tasting. I think I’d try a third or a quarter Good King Henry flour next time. But my family helped themselves from the plate quite happily!

The strong taste may have been due to saponins and other unwanted substances in the grain. Reading up on the processing on quinoa flour, I should probably have soaked and rinsed and dried the seed before grinding it, and then roasted the resulting flour too, to give a finer, tastier and healthier grain.

Having said that, when I went on to rinse the remaining seed several times for cooking I found the water ran clear every time. I could be wrong on this but I think it would have been cloudy and soapy if the seed was rich in saponins.

I cooked the seed following instructions on a quinoa packet but found it absorbed at least double the water and needed at least double the cooking time. Then it was great! Nutty and very slightly crunchy – and delicious mixed with some leftover fried mushrooms and greens we had in the kitchen.

Cooked Good King Henry grain

I’m going to have the rest with fresh tomatoes and salad leaves for lunch.

6 comments on “Good King Henry Grain”

    These were delicious!


    I must find out what’s happening to your notifications Alison. I suspect my spam filter is junking them – sorry! However since I follow Anni’s ‘blog, I’ve found this delightful post of yours! This looks very interesting: Good King Henry seems to love it here – seeding around for me happily and forming a ground cover. I quite like the flower sprouts, but using the seeds would also be interesting.


    Glad you liked the post Nancy. Let me know how you get on with the seed. And also if you spot extra high-yielding plants!


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