Teff is a cultivated grain of the ancient grass, Fragostis tef, native to Ethiopia since around 4000BC. This hardy and versatile food source produces tiny seeds (less than a millimetre in diameter).
Grown in remote parts of Ethiopia and Eritrea, Teff thrives in all climates, including both water logged soils and droughts. It grows quickly and just one handful of Teff seeds is enough to sow a whole field. The grain is resistant to other common cereal crop diseases and it cooks quickly, therefore requiring less fuel.
The grains are red/brown, yellow/brown or ivory in colour and tend to be eaten whole due to their size. The ground grains produce flours of different flavours, with the whiter variant being the mildest and the darker red Teff flour having a more earthy taste.
In Ethiopia, ground Teff is fermented to make spongy sourdough bread called Injera. In the Western World, Teff is becoming popular as an alternative to wheat flour due to it being naturally gluten free. With a protein content of 11g per 100g Teff flour is useful for making bread, pancakes or wraps, in combination with other gluten free flours and starches. The lovely rich red/brown colour of Teff flour works well to give colour to a gluten free loaf, however, use sparingly unless you want a pink-tinged crumb.