Is it an herb, grain, vegetable, or ornamental bead? This easy-to-grow plant is all these things and more! With graceful and flowing miniature corn-type bladed leaves, sturdy stalks, delicate inconspicuous drooping flowers, and ornamental pea-like seeds, Job’s Tears adds a stunning green filler to cut flower displays. A grain-bearing plant useful for food, to make necklaces, rosary beads, and even traditionally in folk medicine for arthritis and to remove heat! Once the husk has been removed for cooking, the grains look more like oversized pearl barley. Great in brothy dishes and traditional Asian drinks, Job’s Tears provides a chewy, mildly sweet, and earthy flavor that has caught the eye of discerning cooks. It has lovingly been called by cookbook authors “the next cult gluten-free grain” and an “unusual, versatile, and beneficial little weirdo.”
Job's Tears (called Hato Mugi, in Japanese) is an uncommon grain eaten traditionally from Africa to Japan. It is believed to originate in India, but is most popular as food and medicine in China and Japan. Most Job's Tears grown in this country is of the non-domesticated type, with rock-hard shells that can only be cracked with pliers or a hammer. The grain inside is edible, but very hard to get at. The domesticated "ma-yuen" type (Coix lacryma-jobi var. ma-yuen) can be cracked open with a couple strong human fingers or a normal threshing machine.