Friday 10 November 2017

How To Make A Quinoa Thresher

So my friends who grew the Quinoa last year and wrote about it to share on here have upgraded how they've threshed their grain. Gone is the child labour and in it's place is some home made technology - my favorite kind! 
They've kindly written me another blog post on processing this years harvest and hopefully I'll get to borrow their thresher to use on my own quinoa which is still hanging up in the extension! 

Last year we threshed our quinoa the old fashioned way with sticks on a tarp which was great fun but felt it was very energy intensive and we didn’t get as much of the grain as possible.  This year, after some research I decided the simplest (and cheapest) option was a home-made flail powered be a cordless drill. 
I already had the drill and some chain left over from another project, the rest I bought from Wickes for about £5.
I had an old black plastic bin with holes in the bottom (that I never got around to throwing away) that we used to grow potatoes in at our previous house. We had such a tiny garden! I used it to hold the quinoa for threshing.  I sat the bin on top of a fine garden riddle and put it all in a plastic trug to catch all the grain. 

The quinoa has been hanging up in the garage to dry off as much as possible. 

I found the most successful way to thresh was to strip as much of the seed heads off the stalks and into the bin and discard the stalks into a compost pile.
Once the pile of seed heads is 4-5 inches deep I begin flailing.  
I started off at a slow speed setting for the first bit and once the heads have been bashed about a bit I switched to the fastest speed whilst covering the bin with a feed sack (I lost the lid years ago!). At this point there was a lot of dust. The seed heads got pulverised and most of the grain was knocked out of the seed heads and I was left with light, fluffy and hopefully empty seed heads.  

I checked to ensure most of the seed had been removed 

 and then tipped the contents of the bin into the riddle 

If there was grain left  I went back to the flail with the drill on the slow setting for another gentle thresh.
Once the grain has been riddled it all ends up in the trug with some of the chaff ready for winnowing / cleaning.  You can see in the photos that the seed is actually pretty clean and almost no stalks or leaves got through the process – it will be interesting to weigh it before and after cleaning.

Parts List
Round bin or bucket
Fine garden riddle (optional but makes life easier)
Garden trug / another bucket to store threshed grains in
M10 Threaded Bar x 1
M10 nuts x 8
M10 Washers x 4
Chain (long enough to reach from centre of bin to side) x 2
Flail Assembly
1.       Cut two lengths of chain to enable them to reach the side of the bin from the centre when spinning.
2.       Thread two nuts up the treaded bar followed by 1 of the washers
3.       Slide the chain against the washer followed by another washer and then 2 more nuts
4.       Tighten the nuts so they lock tightly against each other and clamp the chain tightly to prevent it moving.

5.       Repeat the process with the other piece of chain ensuring it is 180 degrees aligned with the first (to keep the flail balanced when spinning) 

Thank you Spence! What I love about this is that this is written by the other half of the couple that wrote the last last one on growing the quinoa - a real family concern! 

I also like the fact that he seems certain that his yield will be more due to a better threshing method, less grain will be left in the heads and chucked int he compost. they're going to borrow my seed cleaner and see what they come out with and I'll do the same with mine. I should be able to work out what I can grow per square foot to see if it really is worth growing as a self sufficiency staple. 

So let me know what you think! I'm sure you'll all agree that was a great blog post. 

How would you thresh a grain like this?


  1. Very inventive but so labour intensive.

  2. Leaning over the bucket holding the drill (even with a 'sack' in place) means inevitably inhaling a lot of the dust that is funnelled upwards. Traditionally the thresher would stand so the wind blew the dust away from the body, although they still got it on the lungs. A proper face mask with filters & a well ventilated location would seem sensible precautions. It may also be prudent to consider the potential risks of peering face down without face or body protection into an uncovered & unsecured flailing device.

  3. Ingenious Kev, love it! But yes, I think Spade & Dagger's health and safety advice is worth taking notice of too.

  4. Your next move will be to rig it up to an old bicycle and build in a fan to blow out the debris. I used to see wooden contraptions called seed cleaners that had a similar purpose and various screens would separate the various seeds from chaff.


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