Salvia hispanica, commonly known as chia, is a flowering plant from the mint family. For centuries, chia has been harvested for its tiny seed which is high in fiber and nutrients including omega-3 fatty acids.
When to Harvest Сhia Seeds?
Chia seeds are usually ready to harvest when the chia plants reach a height of approximately one meter and they have flowered. You will know chia is ready to be harvested when the flower petals turn brown, droop down, and start to drop off.
How to Harvest Сhia Seeds?
Harvesting chia seeds is very easy. Simply cut off the entire stalk of the plant and hang it upside down in a dry, well-ventilated area for one to two weeks. During this time, the remaining flower petals which contain mature seeds will fall off. When the petals have all fallen off, the seeds are ready for collection.
Place the bag beneath your plant and shake off the flower head simultaneously. It might be a laborious process if you cultivate multiple chia plants, but once done, those seeds will fall directly into the bag without fail.
If the seed heads are very dry and the seeds are hard to catch, you can cut off the whole head with scissors. The falling seeds will fall into the bag. And then you shake them on a large plastic to make it easier to collect later.
What do chia seeds look like
Chia seeds are oval and grayish in color with black and white spots. They have a diameter of 1-2 millimeters, which is about the size of poppy or sesame seeds.
Where do chia seeds come from
Chia seeds come from a flowering plant in the mint family native to Mexico and Guatemala called Salvia hispanica L. The name comes from the Mayan word chian, which means oily.
Seed Preparation for Storage
When harvesting chia seeds, it is important to take care of preparing them for storage. The seeds should be separated from the chaff as much as possible. This involves winnowing, which is a process of removing the husk and other light particles from the seed using air or by hand. Once this is done, you can use a sieve or screen to further separate the seeds from any remaining chaff.
Conditions for Seed Storage
Once the seeds are adequately prepared, they should be stored in a cool, dry place. The ideal temperature for storage is around 5-15°C (41-59°F). Seeds can also be stored in airtight containers or vacuum-sealed bags to ensure that they remain fresh and viable. It is important to note that chia seeds have a short shelf life and can become rancid if exposed to too much light, air, or moisture. Therefore, it is best to store them in a dark place away from direct sunlight and high humidity.
What Benefits do Chia Seeds Have?
The seeds can be eaten raw or cooked and have a mild, nutty flavor. They are high in omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, protein, calcium, antioxidants and other essential vitamins and minerals. Eating chia seeds may reduce inflammation and help improve digestion, heart health and blood sugar levels.