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Home>Herb Seeds
Chia
Chia or Salba - Salvia hispanica
Chia
Item Id: 4000501

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$1.95
Availability:
In Stock
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3.5 grams - $1.95
7 grams - $3.65
14 grams - $6.95
28 grams - $13.45
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Description
Chia
Salvia hispanica


Chia is a member of the mint family native to the regions between Central Mexico and Guatemala.  It is estimated that it has been cultivated for nearly 5,000 years. The 16th century "Codex Mendoza" and "Florentine Codex" provide documentary evidence that it was extensively cultivated by the pre-Columbian Aztec civilization.  Some researchers conclude that it was as significant of a crop as maize in these cultures.

Referred to as "the running food," Aztec warriors ate chia seeds in preparation for battle.  The seeds are very nutritionally dense containing high levels of easily digestible protein, omega-3 fatty acids, dietary fiber, antioxidants, calcium, iron, and many more nutrients.

Although North Americans began learning about Chia from the "Cha-cha-cha Chia," Chia Pet television commercials in the 1980s, we are only now beginning to explore the dietary uses of this ancient "warrior food."

Chia plants grow twenty-four to thirty-six inches tall and produce many clusters of white or light-purple flowers in mid to late summer.  Chia prefers a location providing full sun and that has sandy or loamy, well-drained soils.  Do not over-water. 

It is a tender annual that is hardy in USDA climate zones 9 to 12 and will not tolerate frost.  Since it requires a fairly long season to produce seed, starting indoors and transplanting after all danger of frost has passed is required.  Germination occurs in seven to fourteen days at soil temperatures between 60ºF and 77ºF.

As a relative newcomer to the North American gardening market, we are still experimenting and learning about Chia ourselves.  Each gram is approximately 700 seeds.

Uses:

Although used like a grain, since Chia is not a member of the grass family, like Quinoa, it is not a true grain and is gluten free.  Uses are too numerous to list here.  There are whole websites and cookbooks dedicated to this subject.

The simplest, most practical and ancient form of consumption is to simply eat the seeds raw.  The health and nutritional benefits are many and no preparation is required to receive these benefits.  Like other seeds, for example sesame seeds, Chia can be lightly toasted which results in a richer, nutty flavor.

They can be sprouted and added to salads, ground and added to almost any recipe from energy / smoothie drinks, used as a thickening agent to replace corn starch, or used in place of bread crumbs in meatballs, meat loafs, or coating chicken.  You can even use them to replace eggs in recipes by simply dry grinding Chia seeds into a powder and using one tablespoon along with three tablespoons of water for every egg your baked recipe calls for.

The bottom line is that Chia is as previously mentioned, a nutritionally dense food that is versatile and whose uses are really now just starting to be explored.

Harvesting:

The historical method for harvesting, which is also quite appropriate for small scale and home production, was by bending the stalks over a container and beating the mature, dry seeds from the heads.  Alternatively, the whole stalks can be cut, bundled and shocked to allow the drying process to continue and then the seeds are threshed from the heads. Hulling can be accomplished by wearing gloves and rubbing and then the final process of winnowing to clean the seeds for use can occur.

More Information:
FDA letter describing regulatory status of Salvia hispanica (chia).
USDA GRIN Taxonomy page
.
Nutritional Data.
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