Table of content A-Z




Synonyme: Sorghum, Millet, Brein

botanisch: Panicum millaceum

englisch: sorghum, millet




Millet is a comprehensive term for a number of different grasses that form small kernels as their fruit. In order to better differentiate between the individual varieties they are subdivided into panicle millet (Panicum millaceum), foxtail millet (Setaria italica) and durra or sorghum (Sorghum bicolor and vulgare).

Millet probably originated in China and Africa, where it was cultivated at roughly the same time, 5000-6000 years ago, and where it is an important staple even today.

Millet was also grown in Europe in the past, but it has been supplanted by potatoes and other grains.


The most important areas of cultivation today are limited to the USA, India, China, Mexico, Nigeria and Argentina. The USA and Argentina are the largest exporters. In Europe millet is found mainly in Poland and the countries of the former Soviet Union.



The most familiar and most widespread variety of millet is durra, often better known as sorghum. After being harvested, millet is dried and hulled, and, like other grains, it is available on the market the year round.


Appearance, taste, characteristics

The roundish millet kernels are grey-white, yellow, or reddish-brown. They are somewhat larger than amaranth kernels and have a slightly sweet taste.

The plant is resistant to drought and rather undemanding as far as the soil is concerned. Moreover, it is noted for its fast growth.


* Sorghum (Sorghum bicolor)
A group of large-grained millet plants are pooled under the name sorghum. They grow chiefly in the dry areas of the tropics and subtropics. Sorghum is used there as a food and fodder plant, but it also finds other uses, e.g. as a raw material for starch, alcohol and oil, for the production of wax, in the construction of housing, and as a fuel.


Other varieties of millet are:


* Proso millet (Panicum miliaceum)
Proso millet is also known as true millet. Prior to consumption it must be hulled and it is then used mainly for porridge. It is not suitable for baking.


* Pearl millet (Pennisetum glaucum)
Pearl millet is an important food today in dry and semi-arid parts of Africa and India. There it is hulled, ground and made into porridge, bread or beer.


*Bristly foxtail/hooked bristlegrass (Setaria verticillata)
This variety contains gluten and is therefore also suitable for baking. Owing to its particular composition of starch, it is also useful for the manufacture of technical products.


* Teff (Eragrostis tef)
Teff is the most important grain in Ethiopia. This variety is finer than others and has white and red seeds that are only 1-2 mm long and thus the smallest of all grains. Teff can be used in baking and is gluten-free. It is available in specialist natural food shops only as flour, however, not as whole grain.


* Brown millet
Brown millet is the original form of proso millet. Both the seeds and the flour are brown. It Braunhirseoriginated in India. Today some farmers in Austria grow brown millet and market it directly on the farm premises. In contrast to the other types of millet, it does not need to be hulled because the husks can be eaten as well. Brown millet is suitable for baking and is gluten-free.



Millet is becoming ever more popular, because it contains many important nutrients. Like all varieties of grain, it is rich in carbohydrates. In addition, it is a good supplier of magnesium, copper, manganese, silicon, phosphorus and the vitamins B1 and B6, and is also tops in iron content compared with other grains.

Millet belongs to the gluten-free grains and is suitable for those with coeliac disease.


100 g contain:


Millet, hulled kernel

Millet, hulled kernel

Energy (kcal)



Water (g)



Protein (g)



Fat (g)



Carbohydrates (g)



Fibre (g)



Vitamin B1 (mg)



Vitamin B2 (mg)



Vitamin B6 (mg)



Calcium (mg)



Magnesium (mg)



Manganese (mg)



Iron (mg)



Phosphorus (mg)



Copper (mg)




Harmful substances

Also like amaranth, millet contains tannins, which hinder the absorption of minerals, vitamins and digestive enzymes. In addition, owing to the tannins, nutritive proteins are not so easily assimilated by the body.


Form of consumption, use, processing, practical tips for preparation

Like corn, millet is used to make gluten-free beer and to extract starch and dextrose.

It is usually offered for sale as whole, unhulled kernels, more rarely as flour or flakes. Owing to its slightly sweet taste, it is suited for making sweet dishes and is very popular as porridge or in baked puddings. It can just as well be used to prepare hearty dishes, however, for instance as vegetarian burgers, in salads, to garnish soups or in hearty casseroles.







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