Traditionally, Ukrainians, as well as most people of the former Soviet Union, consume brown buckwheat (which is steamed or roasted), as opposed to West Europeans, who prefer green buckwheat (if any). In the European Union buckwheat is not a traditional food. The only exception is Czech Republic, but again, the saying “Buckwheat is our mother” won’t be relevant in this country.
Let's answer the question: What is green buckwheat, and what is steamed buckwheat?
Keeping aside all the details of buckwheat production, I'd just like to mention that green buckwheat groats are made of buckwheat grains by shelling without thermal shock – steaming or roasting. As a result of such mild treatment, we get a very valuable product – buckwheat kernels. Such green buckwheat kernels are still alive, and they preserve all the nutrients and are able to grow – they can be sprouted.
Steamed buckwheat is also made by shelling, but first, buckwheat grains are heat-treated at temperatures up to 160-180 degrees, being roasted and steamed. Such buckwheat grains are hard and possess more expressed flavour and taste. Naturally, grains lose most nutrients and valuable properties as well as the ability to sprout during the treatment, but get reach flavour instead, and the porridge cooked of this cereal becomes crumbly.
So, why did people start steaming buckwheat? and when?
Buckwheat becomes firmer after heat treatment. If you fry buckwheat grains using an ordinary pan, the grains become so stiff you can hardly crack it. So, this treatment reduces the amount of split grains during buckwheat shelling and increases yield by up to 20%!
It can be said with confidence that before industrialization of the 1930s, Ukrainians basically ate green buckwheat. Buckwheat roasting process became available for many people in the course of technological progress and electrification of the whole country. Naturally, in the production scale, the above-mentioned 20% gain was of great importance for satisfying demand of the former Soviet Union. For this reason the state and the producers decided to change consumer's habits and promote brown buckwheat instead of the traditional green one.
Here's a story about brown (steamed) buckwheat porridge that once appeared on our tables.
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