A little earthy, a little nutty, a little bitter: The flavor of buckwheat can be intense. But roast buckwheat seeds, or mix buckwheat flour with other flours, and the taste is tamed.
It’s a taste more of us are getting to know. The increase in the number of people eating gluten-free diets or more whole grains has been good for the buckwheat business.
“It’s unbelievable," says John McMath, a director of Birkett Mills, one of the two major buckwheat-producing companies in the United States. “It’s growing by leaps and bounds." He says the mill, in the Finger Lakes region of New York, has had to push farmers to ramp up production to keep up with the demand.
McMath, who also heads the National Buckwheat Institute, ticks off a list of selling points: Besides being gluten-free, buckwheat is a nutritional powerhouse; it helps lower cholesterol; it can fight adult-onset diabetes.