Eating Gluten Free – What is teff and what do I do with it?

Teff is a gluten-free cereal originating from northern Ethiopia. It contains high levels of calcium, iron, fiber and other important nutrients. Teff flour can be used with other flours for gluten-free baked goods, and as a whole grain it makes a nutty porridge. The main risk of cross-contamination occurs during grinding; it must be milled using equipment that is only used for gluten-free flour.

Teff is a grain native to northern Ethiopia where it is the main grain used to make injera, a pancake-like bread. It has tiny seeds (about 1 mm or about 1/32 inch) that look nothing like the seeds of wheat, rye or barley. With such tiny seeds, it is very difficult to separate the bran from the inner endosperm, so teff flour is usually made with the whole grain.

Teff is rich in calcium and also contains phosphorus, iron, copper, aluminum, barium and thiamin (vitamin B1). Teff is high in protein and fiber, especially compared to gluten-free “white” flours – white rice, corn starch and tapioca starch.

You can replace some of the flour in your gluten-free baked goods with teff to add both flavor and nutrients. Teff has a slightly sweet, nutty flavor. You might want to start by adding teff to your muffin or bread recipes. If you like the taste, increase the amount of teff.

You might also like to try the teff pancakes. You will find many recipes available. Be sure to choose a gluten-free recipe as you will find some that call for wheat flour. Most of the recipes posted are vegan, but you’ll also find recipes that include eggs and milk if you prefer.

You can also try teff porridge. It is made with teff seeds rather than flour. Some people toast the seeds briefly before adding water to enhance the nutty flavor. Most recipes call for four parts water to one part teff with some kind of sweetener and a tiny bit of salt. Simmer for about 20 minutes or until the water is completely absorbed. If the porridge becomes too thick, add a little more water or milk.

Traditionally, teff is used to make injera, an Ethiopian flatbread. Teff flour, water and a yeast or sourdough type yeast are left to ferment at room temperature, then mixed with a little salt and cooked with a small amount of oil. Injera flatbread is used both as a plate and as a cooking utensil for traditional stews. If you try injera at a restaurant, make sure no gluten flour has been used in the entree or to alter the texture of the bread.

Because teff seeds are so much smaller than wheat or barley seeds, the only real cross-contamination issue with teff occurs when it is ground into flour. It is virtually impossible to clean the equipment used to grind wheat well enough to grind gluten-free grains without cross-contamination. As a gluten-free consumer, this means you need to take extra steps to ensure your flour is safe. Be sure to ask the manufacturer if the teff was ground on shared equipment. If they buy the teff in bulk and repackage it, follow the path to the flour mill.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *